‘Never buy diamonds online’, urge stung customers
Damning feedback from Diamond Exchange customers suggests consumer confidence in online diamond retailers has taken a hammering thanks to the debacle.
A number of Diamondexchange.com.au customers have contacted Jeweller outlining their frustrations and dismay at the way the company has treated them.
One wrote, “I would urge your readers not to do any business with the Diamond Exchange”, while another said, “Never buy a diamond online.”
The Diamond Exchange customer who has given up on buying online spoke to Jeweller on the basis of not being identified, but advised other people against dealing with online diamond retailers.
“They hold very little inventory. They get diamonds on the internet the same way that you or I get a diamond from the internet. They are a 'middle-man' more then anything else,” he said.
Another customer who had not received her order requested a refund that was eventually processed two weeks after the first request. She said she would use an online retailer again but would be far more cautious. “I would buy online only if there was no upfront payment required. I have found a few places that would offer this and I would also check the company’s ABN on ASIC record and do some Google searches on the company,” she advised.
Having ordered a ring in mid-July and paid upfront, another customer has cancelled the order because he was still waiting for delivery this week. According to the customer, Diamond Exchange has had his money for 10 weeks. The unhappy client said, “If I had my time again, the thing I would do differently would be to pay a smaller deposit. Unfortunately, in all the excitement of buying a diamond and getting ready to be engaged I just listened to the sales consultant when they told me I had to pay for the diamond upfront.”
He added, “Originally I was told the diamond would be on its way, but there was a problem with customs. I have only recently realised what is happening, and was told that the diamond would arrive within the week by Jim Francis. Being a director, I believed him. The week came and went without the diamond arriving and I've since asked for a refund, however from what I've been reading this avenue doesn't look too good either.”
The complaints about Diamond Exchange were first raised with the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) last month and the industry body quickly found itself dealing with an influx of claims against its member, close to 30 in total.
While many of the Diamond Exchange customers contacted by Jeweller have now either received their order or refund, many are still waiting. They all spoke about the delays in delivery or delays in receiving a refund.
One consumer said, “If I didn't jump through all of those hoops and keep the pressure on, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have never received my refund.”
At least two customers who ordered rings well before their planned engagement parties were faced with embarrassment because the ring had not arrived on time. One customer claimed he was advised two days before the engagement party that the ring he ordered six weeks earlier would not arrive in time.
“I suffered significant embarrassment to the point that family members were asking whether my partner and I were experiencing financial difficulties because I didn't have an engagement ring. It also cost me a further $1,000 to cancel my engagement party,” he said.
One consumer who purchased a “substantial” ring claimed it took nearly two months to finally receive a full refund. Although he paid for the entire purchase in advance, Diamond Exchange refunded the money owed via a number of smaller refunds over a two to three week period rather than issuing one total refund.
The list of complaints seems endless, with another customer who at the time of publication was still waiting for a final payment saying, “The lack of refunds and replies to customer requests has been an absolute joke and I am extremely disappointed as well as stressed out given that this is meant to be for an engagement ring. I cannot express how frustrating this process has become and I only wish for this transaction to be finalised.”
While many transactions have now been completed, one consumer wonders what would have happened if the JAA had not intervened on its member. “The difficulty remains with the fact that they continually promise the delivery of diamonds in a 14-day time frame which they clearly can't deliver. While I had a good outcome I wonder whether this would be the case if Ian Hadassin from the JAA did not become involved,” she said.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Diamond Exchange has been sold, but attempts to clarify this matter with Simon Middleton, the company’s chief financial officer, proved unsuccessful.
Jeweller contacted Middleton, raising a number of claims made by customers, but at the time of publication Middleton had not responded. Of most concern is that customers’ personal records of their dealings with Diamond Exchange suggest that the company was failing to make refunds to existing customers within the promised 14 days and at the same time it was taking upfront payments from new buyers.
As at 9am Tuesday, October 5, the 519G application to wind up the Diamond Exchange was still showing on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s website. If successful, the application would mean forcing the company into administration and possible liquidation.
The JAA still has a warning on its website Jaa.com.au and has advised the company that its membership to the JAA will be discussed at the next board meeting.
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Diamond Exchange stops trading
Diamond Exchange to be wound up?
Australian Securities & Investments Commission
Posted October 05, 2010