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Saturday, August 17, 2013

More on Security (But This Time it's Mine)

Not too long ago I wrote a series of pieces on your security and safety.  Today I want to write about MY security and safety. 

18k triangular shaped earrings with Ethiopian opals.
18k Ethiopian opal earrings
Yesterday I was soundly berated for having terrible customer service by a customer calling to complain that her husband, who was coming in to get her ring cleaned, was turned away from the door because he came by before I had opened (he was 40 minutes early).  She was furious that he had traveled a distance (which he had) and she couldn't understand why I wouldn't let him in since 1) they were customers--and therefore I should have recognized him, 2) he had traveled so far to get here and 3) since I was on summer hours, which she inferred were different than my normal ones in the morning, and therefore I should have allowed him entry. A number of years ago I got a complaint on Yelp from someone who was irritated I wouldn't let her in after closing hours even though I was obviously still in the store. And more recently, a customer on Yelp also complained I had too many security signs up on my door and that they were intimidating.

So let me first discuss her actual complaints and then I'm going to explain exactly why I do what I do.  Yes these people were customers but I have thousands of customers and I have well over a thousand who routinely come in to have their rings cleaned and checked.  So unless you're in my store with some frequency you can't expect me to recognize every person who comes to my door.  Maybe when facial recognition programs get better, and I can afford one, this won't be such a problem.  I also have customers who come from all over Massachusetts, and other states (one from Chicago who never misses a cleaning) and they all are pretty much aware of my normal hours, and on the rare occasion when they show up early, they are usually fine with having a cup of coffee down the street while they wait for me to open.  As for the summer hour thing, I have a sign posted on my door with my slightly reduced hours, however they were only shortened on the closing end, not the opening end.  For thirty years, I have never opened my doors before 11 am.  This has never changed.  It is posted on my door, every cleaning reminder that goes out clearly has our hours on it, it is all over my website, and there is always that old concept of calling up to check on hours beforehand.

But all of these things are really moot.  What is important here is the REASON I won't open my doors before or after my normal hours.  Every single jewelry related security organization and insurers KNOW that most robberies occur either just before or just after your opening and closing times.  Criminals like to gain access before you open because no one else is in the store besides the employees so it makes their job easier (if you can call it a job).  Additionally jewelry is usually exposed during the set up process and not in either the cases or the safe.   They will often come in just before closing time for the same reason.  Criminals have been known to routinely dress up as delivery men specifically to get in before opening hours.  For this reason, my insurance company, does not allow me to let people in then.  It is just too dangerous.

Okay, so I hear yourselves saying, well I'm not a criminal and I know that so why shouldn't I be allowed in?  First of all, because if I don't know you well, I have no idea whether or not that is the case.  Even if you have been in my store and bought something from me it doesn't mean you are still the same type of person who bought from me originally. (Here are two cases in point: I was passed a bad check for a replacement wedding band from a customer who had gotten his first one from me. We were never able to collect on it because he had become a drug addict and was on a rapid downward spiral in his life.  And then we had a young woman once who bought and paid for one pair of earrings and stole a second pair at the same time.)  Secondly, and more importantly, I can't tell who might be behind, or off to the side of you.  As soon as I open the door for you, it is possible someone out of my sight can slip in behind you. 

And this is the real problem here.  If a criminal comes in somehow, not only is my life placed at risk (as is yours if I let you in and they come in behind you), but all of my livelihood is at risk and all of the pieces that my customers have entrusted to me are at risk as well.  How would you feel if something you had in for repair with me, or a stone of yours that I was making a new piece up with, was stolen, because a customer insisted on me breaking protocol to accommodate their needs?

Now you're probably thinking, oh this kind of stuff doesn't happen in places like Cambridge.  But it happens everywhere.  And it's far worse than most people think.  Did you know that total losses from jewelry industry thefts are higher than losses from bank robberies almost every year? While I have never, knock on wood, actually been held up in the store, we have had incidents of thefts (including one almost 30 years ago when we weren't set up yet and we allowed a customer in and he got away with an entire bag of jewelry) throughout our 30 years on the block.  We have had grab and runs, sneak thefts and even had a set of keys stolen. 

And besides all of these issues, when you come in before I open and I have to stop my set up process to help you, I can't always get set up on time, which either means I'm back to letting people into my store before I'm properly secured or I'm delaying other customers who do come by at the appropriate times. Additionally, my cleaning equipment takes time to get warmed up in the morning so routinely it isn't even ready before my opening time. 

So if you come to my store before I open, please expect to be turned away. Even if you see me in the store I cannot, and will not, let you in.  This is for your safety, and to be quite frank, more importantly to me, my safety as well. 

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