Spence Diamonds rewrites guarantee following CBC investigation
Customers say Canadian-owned diamond retailer failed to live up to promises
Some customers of Spence Diamonds say the retailer has failed to stand behind the promises it makes in its advertising, after they had to pay to get their rings repaired just a few years after they bought them.
In advertisements for Spence Diamonds, chief executive Sean Jones offers a personal guarantee that they stand behind their rings — no matter what.
"People say 'what happens if'? We say don't worry about it. Whatever happens, we're going to cover it," says Jones in one of his promotional videos on YouTube.
But not all their customers would agree.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Spence Diamonds gets more complaints than any other diamond retailer in B.C. — 41 in the past three years, and most of those are about customer service.
Dorothy and Michael Gallagher's fairy tale wedding began with a $9,000 engagement ring from the Spence store in Langley, B.C.
"I was holding back the tears," Dorothy says, recalling the day her husband placed her Spence ring on her finger on a beach in the Caribbean.
"You're thinking about your future and picking out a ring that hopefully you're going to wear the rest of your life."
But her "happily ever after" feeling didn't last forever when it came to the ring. Less than three years later, two diamonds fell out because she says there wasn't enough gold in the ring to hold the diamonds in place.
"It was like a sick feeling in your stomach. Your rings are damaged … you don't know how you're going to get them fixed and what your husband's going to say when he finds out."
The Gallaghers told CBC News their emails and calls to Spence went unanswered — until they were finally informed they were on the hook for the missing stones and repairs.
So instead they paid more than $1,000 for another jeweller to put the stones in a sturdier setting.
"They are not standing behind their warranty or their guarantee," Dorothy said.
"For the amount of money we paid and the quality of the ring that we got, definitely I feel taken advantage of."
Eternity band lasted only 6 years
The Gallaghers were not the only customers CBC News spoke to who had concerns with Spence's customer service and warranties.
Crysta Serne says she has only ever bought diamonds at Spence because she thought they were guaranteed for life.
But when the diamonds starting falling out of her Eternity band after six years, she realized the warranty only lasted for five.
Serne says Spence Diamonds told her she’d have to pay for repairs.
"All of a sudden, I'm being told I have to pay $25 per diamond to tip it and the loose setting was $45 per loose setting and the cracked diamond I had to replace," said Serne.
"A cracked diamond — how does a diamond crack?" she asked.
"I will never purchase another diamond from Spence again, because I should not have had to pay anything, on principle alone, because of just how awful they treated me over the course of five weeks," she told CBC News.
Company responds by changing warranty policy
When CBC News first asked Spence about Serne's ring and about another set of her earrings that needed repairs, the company sent a written response saying they had honoured the terms of the warranties.
"The teams in both our Langley and Vancouver locations were simply following our existing warranty policy, as outlined in the Spence Guarantee, by quoting Ms. Serne with charges to have her Eternity band and earrings repaired, given that the warranty periods on both items had expired," said the letter from Jones.
But after CBC contacted Spence, the company offered Serna a 50 per cent discount "as a gesture of goodwill" on the cost of her Eternity band repairs and free repairs for the earrings.
Shortly after that two separate refund cheques totalling $1,100 also showed up at the Gallagher's door to compensate them for the lost diamonds and new setting.
Then, after additional inquiries by CBC News, Spence CEO Jones issued another statement saying effective March 12, the company was changing its warranty policy because of the concerns raised by Serne and Gallagher.
"We have reviewed the terms of the Spence guarantee … and effective today the warranty now says … if you bought it at Spence, it's guaranteed — period. All maintenance and repairs are free forever. Even if you lose a diamond, including the centre diamond up to 2.10 carats, we'll replace it, for free."
"The only thing we can't guarantee is that you won't lose your jewelry. For that you need to buy insurance," said the statement.
"We are proud of the experience and products we offer our customers. We take the role we play in our customer's 'happily ever after' very seriously," wrote Jones.
Customers must bring their rings to Spence for a yearly inspection to qualify.