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pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
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8,266
I received rather long story from a consumer who was unhappy with his experience with Northeastern Fine Jewelry www.nefj.com in Schenectady New York.

I published his story in this thread without mentioning his name. The vendor provided company’s point of view after that (see below).

Recently the company sent this consumer a letter stating he posted number of inaccurate, false and defamatory statements and demand to remove the post in 10 days. Otherwise, they will take actions against him for liable and slander.

The consumer emailed me asking to remove the post.

I thank all forum members who discussed this issue and voiced their opinions.
 

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pqcollectibles

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 22, 2003
Messages
3,441
GREAT POST, Leonid!!! And shopping in person is reported to be safer and more reliable. Net shopping is only for those of us just short of being crazy! LOLOL
 

lakers8788

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Messages
1
Dear Leonid,

I am writing to Pricescope in reference to a posting that appeared on your site on June 2, 2003 at 11
2
6. The posting originated from a retail consumer who felt compelled to voice dissatisfaction concerning an experience he had in one of my stores. Since you were kind enough to print his comments, I thought you might give me the courtesy of hearing my side. Perhaps you may want to share this with your readers ?

First of all, I would like to tell you a little bit about my company. I own two jewelry stores, one in Albany, NY and one is Schenectady, NY. I have been established since 1980. I employ approximately 41 people; several Graduate Gemologists, one FGA, twenty or so sales people, seven bench jewelers and several administrative and support personel. Each store has a complete shop capable of designing and manufacturing from scratch. Additionally, I have for some time leased space to the region’s premier accredited gemological laboratory. This company has been established for 20+ years and services other jewelry eatablishments as well as financial institutions and attorneys.

I am proud to carry many fine lines such as Scott Kay, Mikimoto, Lazare Kaplan, Michael Beaudry, etc… We also had Tiffany & Co., before they shut down their wholesale operation in the United States.

The gentlman customer had the good fortune to be paired with my senior sales associate. This woman has over 15 years experience and has a personal 1 millon dollar a year following. The customer’s diamond request was as follows: a “nice quality”, light ½ ct., ideal cut accompanied with a GIA diamond grading report for $600. He was offered a .42ct, J SI2 with a cut grade of AGS 2. This information was provided by our MegaScope. When asked by the customer why our .42ct did not have a GIA report, we stated that, typically the cost to us would necessitate raising the retail cost of the diamond. In this case, the actual cost of the “cert” would have been 17% of the selling price, when you add postage to GIA fees. However, we are always happy to submit a diamond if there is a special request.

It came out an AGS 2, which would be considered a GIA “good” and a Holloway “good” according to your literature. The consumer was not able to distinguish this relationship as well as not fully comprehending cut grades as they relate to performance. My sales associate, with the assistance of the laboratory owner, who happened to be in that store on that day, attempted to convey this information as well as additional comments to no avail. It appeared that the sometimes confusing grading systems were too much for this consumer.








As far as conflict diamonds are concerned we explained to the gentleman that we require our vendors to sign a form with our buying (CBG) office. This insures that they are not selling us conflict diamonds. We also explained that the Kimberly Act has to do with exporters of rough diamonds. Since Northeastern Fine Jewelry buys only polished and doesn’t deal with diamonds in the rough, this act does not pertain to us.

The gentleman wanted my sales associate to prove to him that this was not a conflict diamond. We told him that unless we watched the piece of rough come out of the ground how can we be 100% sure that it is not a conflict diamond ? I love his statement that “they were looking to get rid of it awfully fast.” In my opinion the consumer needs help and fast. I recently sold a 5.00 ct. fancy yellow radiant for $50,000 and a 2.00 ct. pear VS2, D for $16,000. Fortunately, I don’t need to get rid of a $590 stone awfully fast.

As far as the mounting, the consumer is all wet again. In his letter to the Better Business Bureau, he stated that "they purposely wrecked the setting removing the stone". "It’s a platinum tip and it needs to soak before work is done on it". My jeweler pulled the prong back and gave him the mounting. Any good jeweler knows that you shouldn’t re-use a head anyway since each diamond has different dimensions and the seat in the head should be cut for each individual diamond. I hope this letter explains my side of this story and I hope you either remove his letter because it is very slanderous or put my side of the story with it.
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
5.8 on the HCA may be a 'good' stone in some people's eyes (maul jewelers?), but why settle when you can have 'very good' or even 'excellent' for the same $$? Today's diamond buyers are getting savvy about how they spend their money.

Sounds like regardless of whatever happened between the consumer and the original vendor (only they two will ever really know), the consumer got what he wanted in the end, a well-cut stone with a cert within his budget, and a feeling of confidence.



 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
I moved this topic into for a while because the guy got threatened by the company with lawsuit. They demand this post to be removed from the forum.

Any opinion/advice, guys?
 

Hest88

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
4,357
Hm. I'm not Lawgem so I don't think I can give you advice. It's infuriating, of course, that any vendor would threaten you in any way.

Wait, I assumed the merchant wanted the post removed, right? Not the customer? Just wanted to be sure.
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
----------------
On 10/14/2003 12:49:15 PM Hest88 wrote:

Hm. I'm not Lawgem so I don't think I can give you advice. It's infuriating, of course, that any vendor would threaten you in any way.

Wait, I assumed the merchant wanted the post removed, right? Not the customer? Just wanted to be sure.----------------
Consumer asked to remove the post because the merchant threatens him if it won't be done.
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143
I'm not an attorney, so take my comments for what they are.....my opinion.




I don't think the post should have to be removed. This consumer recounted his experience from his perspective. The vendor responded to pricescope, and his version is also posted (as he asked). That should be the end of it.




This site is supposed to be a resource where consumers can come to get straight info on buying a diamond and learning which vendors are trustworthy. It can't function as such if vendors are able to strongarm or threaten folks for sharing their negative experiences.




Frankly, the idea that this vendor is trying to muscle anyone disturbs me. Further, if the vendor is threatening anyone (including the customer), I think that's relevant information for PScopers to know. If they come here to search for info/feedback on this vendor, they should be aware of what they might be getting into.
 

Hest88

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
4,357
I agree in principle with Alj, very much so.

However, I believe Leonid has often removed posts when the original poster asked him to, right? So even if he hate *why* this is happening we shouldn't make an exception.

However, Leonid should make it clear that it's an anomalous move and that he's doing it as a favor this time, so that he's not bugged by tons of consumers who change their minds about posting.
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
Aljdewey, exactly my thoughts. On the other hand, consumer wants to be left alone. He doesn't want any headache about it. We shouldn't jeopardize people safety and privacy.

Ideally it would be great if Pricescope or other company (LawGem?) could provide a legal help in such situations and go after vendors that pressure their own consumers.

Hest88, I do remove consumer posts sometimes by their request but do it as a last measure. e.g. if they disclose some private information. I'd rather save the posts especially if other people already replied to it.

This case is different, however, because it contains information that can help other consumers. That's why I didn't delete it but moved here for a while.
 

winyan

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 9, 2003
Messages
1,163
I think you were wise in that decision, Leonid.

It does help other consumers.

win
 

babblingal

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2003
Messages
343
I am not an attorney either, but I do know that the post could not possibly be slanderous. Slander is *verbal*.

If he wants to argue that it may be libelous, that is a different issue. I do not think it covers libel either because there must be proof that the comments were made with a level of blatant disregard for the truth. I would think he would have to prove his allegation that the remarks are untrue, the poster knew it and posted it anyway, you knew it was untrue and kept it up knowing it was untrue, etc. etc. I think the guy threatening the legal action needs to supply more proof than what has been presented. But I am not an attorney and certainly am not advising you as such.

I am merely relying on my memories from the Law class I took in High School.

Lawgem, what say you?
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143


----------------
On 10/14/2003 1:55:58 PM leonid wrote:
Aljdewey, exactly my thoughts. On the other hand, consumer wants to be left alone. He doesn't want any headache about it. We shouldn't jeopardize people safety and privacy.
---------------

I certainly agree, Leonid, that we shouldn't jeopardize people's safety and/or privacy.....nor am I suggesting we do so now. However, there is a dangerous precedent potential here.



There have been past instances (as you are well aware) where vendors have contacted you and asked you to remove posts they objected to. You gave very firm (and correct) reasons for refusing to do so. Removing this post will negate all those reasons....and, even worse, will make the playing field unfair. It's not right to refuse one vendor who feels he's being wronged, but to acquiesce to another vendor simply because he threatened a customer. How will this diminish your ability to refuse future requests when vendors object to negative feedback?



I think an alternate choice would be to contact Northeastern Fine Jewelry and advise him that you are aware of his demand to the customer. Remind him also that it's fruitless to threaten the consumer because the consumer doesn't have control over this website....he's not an administrator and cannot be held responsible for its maintenance/content. (You may want to remind the consumer of that, too, so he knows what to say to the vendor.) Remind him that you did honor his request to append his remarks regarding the sale to this thread....and that's the end of it.



I'd further suggest that if this post is removed, it should be replaced with a webmaster note that explains why the post is no longer here....that a customer relayed a disappointing experience with Northeastern Fine Jewelry and was subsequently threatened by the jeweler if the post wasn't removed. In concern for the consumer's safety, the post was removed despite the reservations of webmaster in doing so.



I feel very strongly about this. I strenuously object to any vendor (or anyone else, for that matter) having the ability to stifle or censor any poster's experience.
 

mike04456

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 20, 2002
Messages
1,441
What we've got here is a disconnect between what's legal and what seems to be right.




Without going into specifics (and as I've said repeatedly guys, I can't answer specific questions on a Toronto-based forum because I'm only licened in CA), a message generally belongs to the person who wrote it. Posting to an internet forum does not transfer the copyright unless the user agreement specifically says that. If a member wants a message removed, the forum is required to remove it absent contrary terms in the user agreement. One may disagree with the reasons, but that's the poster's decision to make.




Libel is a tricky area of law. The test babs is referring to ("malice" is the legal term) only applies to libel suits by public figures. The test for suits by private individuals is not as strict, although the burden is still generally on the plaintiff to prove that the statements are in fact both false and damaging.




Internet forums generally cannot be held responsible for a libelous message unless they have actual knowledge that the message is in fact libelous. This is obviously going to depend heavily on the circumstances, but I doubt that it's enough just to have gotten complaints from the aggrieved individual.




As far as Leonid's "Consumer Defense Fund" idea, I think the JVC would be interested in a case of a jewelry store trying to suppress (truthful) negative feedback through threats of litigation. (Again, I have no idea if that's really the case here.)
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143


----------------
On 10/14/2003 4:07:31 PM LawGem wrote:







As far as Leonid's 'Consumer Defense Fund' idea, I think the JVC would be interested in a case of a jewelry store trying to suppress (truthful) negative feedback through threats of litigation. (Again, I have no idea if that's really the case here.)



----------------

Then I think that's the solution there. If the customer requests removal of the post, then Leonid should accommodate that....and in its place should be a Webmaster note:



"This post previously detailed a consumer's truthful account of an unsatisfactory experience with Northeastern Fine Jewelry. Because the jeweler has threatened the consumer with litigation in efforts to suppress this feedback, we have removed it at the customer's request."



I'm sure that will make an even more definitive impression of what NFJ is about than the initial posting did.

 

Hest88

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
4,357
----------------
On 10/14/2003 4:39:31 PM aljdewey wrote:




----------------
"This post previously detailed a consumer's truthful account of an unsatisfactory experience with Northeastern Fine Jewelry. Because the jeweler has threatened the consumer with litigation in efforts to suppress this feedback, we have removed it at the customer's request."


----------------

Wait, but then we're getting into legally murky territory again since Leonid can't *prove* that it's truthful.
 

babblingal

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2003
Messages
343
If I understand Lawgem's post, Leonid is under no obligation, unless stated in the user agreement of this website, to pull the offending post. He needs more proof of the libel than just the agrieved person's claim.

Right?
 

Hest88

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
4,357
----------------
If I understand Lawgem's post, Leonid is under no obligation, unless stated in the user agreement of this website, to pull the offending post.
----------------
Yes, but the problem isn't so much a legal one but a practical one. Is Leonid willing to risk 1) offending a consumer and, more importantly 2) possibly risking legal action from a vendor for a matter of principle and to test the legality of the request? I guess that's up to Leonid.
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143
Remove the word truthful. The rest stands.........Problem solved.
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143


----------------
On 10/14/2003 4:45:03 PM babblingal wrote:


If I understand Lawgem's post, Leonid is under no obligation, unless stated in the user agreement of this website, to pull the offending post.

Right?



----------------

No, I don't think that's correct. He said the opposite....that Leonid is obligated to remove a post if the original poster requests it....unless the user terms expressly specify otherwise (which it appears they don't.)



The reason is because the original poster doesn't surrender his copyright, and copyright allows him to restrict access/display.



All of this, of course, is subject to Canadian copyright law, which may differ from U.S. copyright law.....but it doesn't seem to differ substantially in this instance.

 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
7,828
----------------
On 10/14/2003 4:07:31 PM LawGem wrote:


What we've got here is a disconnect between what's legal and what seems to be right.


a message generally belongs to the person who wrote it. Posting to an internet forum does not transfer the copyright unless the user agreement specifically says that. If a member wants a message removed, the forum is required to remove it absent contrary terms in the user agreement. One may disagree with the reasons, but that's the poster's decision to make.


.)
----------------

If I read it correctly....then...

The poster of the original testimony "message" asked for his message to be removed. The reason doesn't matter. Unless PS has a "contrary terms in the user agreement", the poster has the right to request his post be removed.
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
9,143


----------------
On 10/14/2003 5:48:21 PM fire&ice wrote:

If I read it correctly....then...

The poster of the original testimony 'message' asked for his message to be removed. The reason doesn't matter. Unless PS has a 'contrary terms in the user agreement', the poster has the right to request his post be removed.

---------------



Exactly, F&I....the reason doesn't matter. The poster owns the copyright and therefore has an exclusive right to display his work or restrict display/distribution/reproduction of it. There are no contrary terms in the PS user agreement.



Incidentally, this topic brings to mind the whole flap of former DTers who are miffed that their requests to remove their posts have gone unfulfilled.



Keep in mind.....in order to successfully assert that right, you have to be willing to pursue legal channels should DT refuse to comply.



You need to decide if you're willing to bear the cost to pursue legally. As an individual, it might not make economic sense to do so.....that's a fairly high price for having the last word/laugh.




 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143
Leonid.....a question.




Why hasn't the consumer in question simply edited the post himself? (Could be he doesn't really want to, but wants the "show" of having asked?)




We've all seen a few other posters drop in and clean out their posts, after all.
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
Aljdewey:
----------------
Why hasn't the consumer in question simply edited the post himself? (Could be he doesn't really want to, but wants the 'show' of having asked?)
----------------
The author of the post didn't register on the forum but sent it via feedback form.

I posted it myself. Now the guy cannot edit it even if he'd wanted to. I'm still waiting for more information from him.
 

babblingal

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2003
Messages
343
If he isn't registered and he sent it via a feedback form and you posted it, your TOS says that anything you post is copywrited by PS. So does this mean he gives up his copywrite?
 

pricescope

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 31, 1999
Messages
8,266
I don't want to cause the guy any trouble on the other hand we should make other consumers aware.

Another possibility is to remove original post but explain in details why I did it. I’m afraid NEFJ don't know how to behave in the Internet.

Is it worth it?
 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143


----------------
On 10/15/2003 8:42:06 AM leonid wrote:





The guy sent me the lawyer's letter to him. It says he posted number of inaccurate, false and defamatory statements and demand to remove the post in 10 days. Otherwise, they will take actions against him for liable and slander.

I don't want to cause the guy any trouble on the other hand we should make other consumers aware.

Another possibility is to remove original post but explain in details why I did it. I’m afraid NEFJ don't know how to behave in the Internet.

Is it worth it?
----------------

In my opinion, yes, it is worth it. Remove the consumers post, remove NEFJ's post, too, and in place of that put the details of why it's removed.



From what I can see at this time, it is accurate to say:



"This post originally contained a customer review of an unsatisfactory experience with Northeastern Fine Jewelers. The jeweler asked for an opportunity to respond and we, of course, allowed him to reply with his perspective on the sale.



Despite this equity, the jeweler insisted that the consumer remove this review, and his efforts to surpress this feedback included threatening the customer with ligitation. The customer provided PS with documentation of these threats, and we complied with his request to remove the review out of concern for his safety and privacy."



Is it worth it? To the next person who may have problems with this guy, I'm sure it's very "worth it". To the integrity of this site as an unbiased resource, it's positively worth it.

 

aljdewey

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
9,143
As an aside, I think this jeweler's approach is all wrong.




In reading the customer's review, it seems that he is like our former friend Harry.....just enough info to be dangerous but not enough to really *know* anything. It's kind of preposterous to think that any jeweler needs to move a $590 stone fast, and it's a stretch to assert that damage to the setting was "blatant and on purpose." I don't doubt this customer had an unsatisfactory experience, but I think some of his assumptions are stretches.




The jeweler responded, and that should have been enough. He's actually doing far more damage to himself with his threats....he should have left well enough alone with his reply, in my humble opinion.
 
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