Tanzanite.com / Junk Product, Worse Customer Service
Below is a description of my interaction with tanzanite.com, one of the worst companies with whom I have ever engaged in a business transaction. In a word, my experience with tanzanite.com was horrific. Another apt description would be infuriating. To say that customer service is not a priority to them is giving them far too much credit. I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to make the best of the situation – correcting or compensating for THEIR mistakes – and they simply did not care. The worst part, to me, was the fact that I was buying a wedding band for my (future) wife. A wedding is obviously an event that carries a great deal of meaning, and having a well-crafted and beautiful wedding band is an important element of the day. It was purchase that I did not take lightly.
Unfortunately, as you can follow from the timeline below, things started to take a turn for the worst within a week of the purchase. In the end, I was just one insignificant customer who represented an inconvenience to a company who takes no pride in making a bad situation good. After the whole episode was over, I literally ended up paying for nothing, both monetarily and with wasted time. Right now, I feel like they won. They lost nothing, except for one angry customer. I feel like I lost so much more. And that is why I am writing this posting – vindication for myself, and hopefully the chance to steer unsuspecting potential customers away from a cesspool of deception and incompetence. If I can divert even one paying customer to another website or jewelry store, then I would feel this posting is worthwhile.
Original Order Date: 11/12/2008 (via Internet)
I ordered a tanzanite and diamond ring via their internet site. The site is well-organized, the search works well, and the pictures are generally visually appealing. Most of their standard rings are 14K white gold. I decided to upgrade to an 18K white gold ring, adding a marginal additional cost. The price of the ring seemed very reasonable, even less than I had expected to pay. I needed to receive the ring by Nov 28th in order to give it as a birthday present on the 29th. At the time I did not expect this to be a problem, as the website states, “Tanzanite.com offers you free shipping on all orders over $199 via FedEx Express Saver®. Shipments usually arrive within three to five business days.”
Little did I realize at the time (and this is partially my fault) that by upgrading to 18K gold I had actually created a ‘Special Order.’ Special Orders are not included in the shipping description above. I suppose I should have just known that “all orders” really means “all standard orders”. Then again, a reputable company would probably mention that special orders are not processed or shipped nearly that fast.
I proceeded to check their website every few days to view the status of my order. When it became clear that the order had not been shipped within the suggested period, I contacted the company again via the free-form email boxes on their website.
Email #1 (from me): 11/18/2008
I informed the customer service department that I needed the order by Nov. 28th, and asked if there was any way (including paying additional fees) to expedite the order.
Response Email #1 (from tanzanite.com): 11/19/2008
In summary, they communicated that the estimated ship date would be Dec. 10th. (28 days from the original order). I was given the option to exchange (downgrade) 18K White Gold with 14K White Gold, essentially reverting back to the ‘standard order’. If I accepted this proposal, I would receive a refund on my credit card for the difference in price. Additionally, the ring would then be shipped so that I could receive the order by my target date.
At this point, although I was disappointed, I had no recourse, so I decided to downgrade and take the standard ring.
Email #2 (from me): 11/19/2008
I responded to their email later that same day, agreeing to the order change. I requested information on the new shipping date.
Email #3 (from me): 11/21/2008
After a day and half of no email response, I sent another email. I wrote a message very similar to Email #2 above.
Email #4 (from me): 11/21/2008
Another half day went by and I heard absolutely nothing. This time, I resent the message, but sent it to the generic customer service email address that is provided on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the website.
Call #1 (from me): 11/24/2008
I had now waited 5 days (3 business days) and not gotten any response whatsoever. I gave up on email communications since they were apparently not working. It seemed extremely interesting that a .com company would not do a better job of monitoring and responding to customer emails. Since all orders are placed via phone or the internet, would it not be common sense that those forms of communication be given high priority? Apparently it was only the initial order (and payment) that was important. Regardless, I made a call to the company and reached the “customer service representative”. I use that term loosely, since I couldn’t tell if I was actually talking to a representative of the company. There was nothing to the effect of, “This is tanzanite.com, how can I help you today?” I definitely got the impression that the woman A) Hated her job B) Hated me and C) Would definitely rather not be talking to me. The idea that this woman was potentially taking orders, helping to answer questions, or even worse, resolving issues, is absolutely comical. After describing my situation and explaining that I could not get an email response, she agreed to change the order over the phone, and revert the order to 14K gold. I was overjoyed that I could even get a response at all, so I generally overlooked the fact that to receive my order by my target date (November 28th), I needed to pay for overnight shipping. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I needed to pay an additional $19.95 for overnight shipping to get the ring on time. Of course, the reality of the situation was that if I had received an email response on the 19th, I would not have needed to pay this expense, and the order would have been delivered in time, just as was promised in their original email response.
Response Email #2 (from tanzanite.com): 11/24/08
I received an email communication from the same person who originally sent me the response on the 19th. Laughably, he apologized because he had been “out of the office for a few days.” That is when I first learned that tanzanite.com has a customer service department of 1. He was writing to follow-up that the order had been changed, and would be shipped out on the 26th (now a standard order but still required over 24 hours to ship out, I assume for the resizing).
Order Received (by me): 11/28/08
The package was delivered. Upon opening it, I was fairly happy with the looks of the ring. It was pretty, but not very robust. I had my fiancée’s engagement ring custom made at a local jewelry store, and that ring looked solid and high-quality. This ring did not compare, but then again I had paid much (thousands) less for it. So overall I was happy with the product.
The wedding was December 6th. Less than 48 hours after the ceremony, we were in the airport heading off for the honeymoon. Right after we got the airport, my wife looked at her ring and was shocked to see that one of the tanzanite stones had simply fallen out of the prongs. The ring had not been subjected to any excessive stress; it was almost like brand new. As of December 8th she had to stop wearing the ring.
Call #2 (from me): 12/17/2008
I called the customer service department to find out what I needed to do to return the ring. I, of course, knew I had nothing to worry about since tanzanite.com jewelry carries a 5-year warranty:
“All fine diamond, colored gemstone, platinum and gold jewelry purchased from Tanzanite.com. is warranted for (5) years from the date of purchase. All fine jewelry is genuine, authentic, and of consistent high quality and value.” Surely a company claiming consistent high quality and value would go out of their way to uphold such a fine reputation.
The customer service representative informed me that I could ship the ring back, where it would be inspected to determine if there truly was a defect which caused the stone to be lost. I can understand why they would need to inspect the jewelry before agreeing to a repair or replacement; that is good business. However, there was no mention of the shipping costs, which, with tracking confirmation and insurance, rang up to a total of $12.75. Apparently that wasn’t their problem or concern.
Defective Ring Shipped (by me): 12/19/2008
I sent the ring back with a note to the customer service representative, asking him to keep me apprised of the situation. I actually wrote that I would be happy with either a repair or replacement, that I would leave that choice up to the “experts” based on their ability to recreate the ring’s condition when it was new. The next week was the Christmas holiday, so I was not expecting a speedy response. I guess I should rephrase – since next week was the Christmas holiday, I was just hoping for any response.
Defective Ring Delivered (to tanzanite.com): 12/22/2008
Checking the postal service tracking website, I was able to confirm the delivery date.
Email #5 (from me): 12/29/2008
After waiting 7 days from the delivery date and hearing absolutely nothing, I thought it was time to send another message. I sent an email to the generic customer service address given on the website, asking them to confirm that the shipment had been received.
Order Received (by me): 12/30/2008
Without any prior contact, confirmation, or communication, I was stunned to see the delivery man at my door holding a package from tanzanite.com. My wife and I were so excited that we got the ring I didn’t even hold it against them that they never once gave me any idea of the return order status. That excited feeling died a speedy death. We opened the box to find the ‘new’ ring. The ring was not new, but in fact repaired. That was not a problem; I had stated in my note that repairing it was a viable option. What was a problem was that the ring looked like it had been purchased for $20 at a local flea market. The third stone had been replaced, but apparently by a child. A jeweler with any skills or pride would not have given approval to ship the ring we received that day. Looking at the ring from the side, the third stone was clearly set lower than the other 2 existing stones. And the third stone did not appear to be the same size as the other two. The ring just looked bad. We knew immediately that it needed to go back.
Call #3 (from me): 12/31/2008
I called customer service, and to say that I was livid was probably an understatement. My favorite female customer service representative answered (see call #1 on 11/24). To summarize, she told me that I needed to call back at a different time (preferably January 5th or later), because it was a holiday week and no one was there. That is, no one who had any authority to make decisions or actually attempt to help rectify the situation. Needless to say, I don’t see any “Customer Service Rep of the Year” awards in her near future.
Call #4 (from me): 1/5/2009
I called again to talk to the lone service representative who had been handling my order up to this point. I need to take a brief diversion at this point, to illustrate how phenomenally professional this company is: when I called the toll free number listed on the website trying to reach the customer service rep, I was actually automatically routed to an individual’s personal voicemail. Even better, the message on the voicemail was such a mumbled mess and lacking enunciation that it was nearly impossible to tell what the person was even saying. I found that to be classic. How appropriate was it that after all my experiences in dealing with this idiocy, that the company’s toll free number for orders, customer service, EVERYTHING, was being routed to a personal voice mailbox in which the person could not be understood? For a minute I thought the company might have actually went bankrupt and the phone number was being used by someone else. [I digress]
Luckily I found a backup number to reach the company’s directory switchboard, so I was able to get through to the representative. I explained the entire situation to him, and let him know the ring was, in no uncertain terms, completely unsatisfactory. At this point I told him that I was no longer interested in keeping any ring manufactured by tanzanite.com, or for that matter, having any interaction with their company. I demanded that I receive a full refund, not only for the ring itself, but also the shipping costs I had incurred to date.
First, he had to verify with his supervisor whether or not a refund would even be approved, since the company policy is to only allow refunds up to 30 days after the purchase date. After conferring with the supervisor (who I found out was also a relative, as most of the company employees are), they determined that after I shipped the ring back to them again, they would examine it to determine whether the “repaired” ring truly warranted a refund. They also agreed to provide their FedEx shipping account number, so that I could mail the ring back for free this time. I didn’t really see these actions as going above and beyond the bare minimum in order to maintain the company’s integrity and ensure a positive customer experience.
I told him I did not find their resolution acceptable, and that they owed me the money I had spent. His only response was to apologize repeatedly. Apologies seem a little hollow when there is no proactive action to back them up. I finally told him that I wanted to be done with this entire episode so badly that I would accept losing the shipping costs, if they would give me the refund. Even without a verbal guarantee to refund my purchase, I sent the ring back for a second time.
Defective Ring Shipped (from me): 1/6/2009
The ring was shipped back a second time with the manufacturer’s appraisal and a copy of the original invoice.
Defective Ring Delivered (to tanzanite.com): 1/8/2009
Checking the FedEx tracking website, I was able to confirm the delivery date.
Response Call #1 (from tanzanite.com): 1/8/2009
Amazingly, this time the customer service rep handling my case actually called me. He had promised during my previous call that it would in fact be his supervisor who would inspect the ring and then follow-up with a call to discuss the refund. Regardless, I suppose I should feel both honored and thrilled to be contacted at all. I missed the call but called him back within the hour. He said the company/supervisor had determined that I could be granted a refund, for only the original purchase price of the ring. The only shipping cost they agreed to cover was the one for which they had already paid, the second return shipment. I again let him know that to me, that was unacceptable. There was not much else to say so the conversation ended, after he indicated that a credit would be forthcoming.
Credit Card Account Credit Transaction Date: 1/8/2009
Credit Card Account Credit Posting Date: 1/12/2009
I think that here I will have to give the company the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it was the banks that caused the 3-business day delay in the actual posting of my credit.
I could go on further, and write more venomous words aimed at disparaging the name of tanzanite.com. The sad thing is, there are even more details which I omitted that illustrate their complete and total lack of professionalism. I believe, though, that the documented timeline speaks for itself. If there is nothing else that you take from this, then just know this: after the original order, I contacted the company 9 times; they contacted me 3. Is that a ratio that a reputable company would be proud to share? Does that sound like a company founded on integrity and excellence that is willing to stand behind the products they promote?
Two months to the day after I placed my order, I had no ring, 2 shipping expenses, and the lingering feeling of being completely screwed.
Before you place an order with Tananite.com, check out your local jewelry store or a site that you know and trust. It will be worth it. And if you really want to give your money away, then I still implore you not to navigate to tanzanite.com. Pick a favorite charity and give money to them – at least you will feel a lot better about yourself.