Michalopoulos’ surrealistic customer care: The outraging story of a wedding ring found on the beautiful island of Zakynthos
Little did I know that morning that the trip to Zante town would conclude with my wedding ring. It was our second year we were back to Zakynthos island (Greece). We were so happy to be there, continuing our holiday from where we left it a year earlier. I don’t know why I started to look at the jewelry shops and wedding rings. Back in Belgium, there are so many trustworthy jewelers, especially in Antwerp, the city of diamonds. But for some reason, I did. And I kept looking and trying on various rings until I found the one: a beautiful Eternity 18 karat ring with 14 diamonds. It was elegant, not too thick and not too slim. And it had the same princess type of diamonds as my engagement ring. More than that, I quickly associated the 14 diamonds to the year we would get married: 2014. I asked for the price. Well, it was very pricy. We had no experience of prices for diamond wedding rings. We knew they were expensive, but not to what extent. Plus, I had some doubts, as we were … well … in Greece. Food is great, people are charming, beaches are sandy and the sun is excellent, but Greece is not particularly known as a place for things that are well made or built to last. Plus, I had heard of various stories with Greek sellers, promising even the moon from the sky just to make you buy. But I decided not to trust these stereotypes. Then I asked around about the shop. I asked the staff of the hotel we were staying at. They recommended it warmly. “It is the best and most respectable jewelry shop from the island!”, we were told. I checked the shop’s website, it looked good, plus the shop had been in business since 1983. I asked the taxi driver and he said “I got my watch from there! The work is exquisite”. The lobby guy had bought his wedding band from there and even Athina, my horse riding teacher recommended the shop when I asked her for a recommendation. All seemed fine. Plus, I thought that it was a good sign that the shop’s name was .. Michalopoulos. It made me think of the two Orthodox Saints that are celebrated together in Romania ‘Mihail and Gavril’ and since my name is Gabriela and yes… stupid me… I felt that my purchase would be somehow ‘protected’. Whatever, stupid me and stupid superstitions… We returned to the shop the same day in the evening. I again looked at the ring. The shop assistant was very nice and pleasant, answering all my questions.
- Yes, there will be guarantee certificates for the gold and for the diamonds.
- Yes, there is a special certificate that indeed certifies the quality of the diamonds.
- Yes, the gold is 18 karats. But mind that it’s a soft metal and it would easily scratch even from normal wear. Hence, the ring may have to be “brushed up” and the gold may need to be shined once in a while. It is very custom for Greek people to send their wedding bands to the jeweler for a face lift now and then. Gold is actually a soft metal.
- Yes, if something occurs to the ring, we will fix it without any charge and even if the ring is in Belgium. We have insurance for the mailing services and the ring will not be lost. And in any case, we can guarantee that nothing will occur, as we work with the best workshops.
We trusted them as they were a respectable family business oriented towards the finest quality. My husband bought the ring. For six months the ring was not used, waiting in its box for the wedding day. And when the religious wedding day arrived, I was so happy to see my husband, putting on my finger that precious ring that was symbolizing and marking our union as husband and wife. Six months later after the wedding, we were back on the Zakynthos island. Where else could we have gone for a pre-honey moon than to the place from where my wedding ring had been bought? Plus we had so many beautiful memories there. It was a lovely short holiday until that day when sat by the hotel’s pool, I checked my ring. I saw something really horrible. I saw my ring as if it had lost its ‘teeth’. Three ugly holes with black at the bottom were standing out on my ring. I felt that my heart had stopped. I started crying. I got agitated. “I am dreaming! We have to return to the shop!” We called the shop immediately and they told us to come over. A few minutes later we were in a taxi towards Zante town. We entered the shop, talked to the shop assistant who had sold us the ring and told her what had happened. She listened to us calmly. I could not understand why the diamonds had fallen. It was beyond my comprehension. Six months after starting to wear my wedding ring, three of the diamonds had fallen. Whilst my engagement ring with similar types of diamonds had been worn ever since 2009 and it was just fine. The shop assistant started telling us that the diamonds might have fallen because I must have knocked the ring. Really, I ‘might have knocked the ring’? Well, it should have been quite a powerful knock and had it occurred, my engagement ring should have been affected as well, as I was wearing it on the same finger as my wedding ring. And how can she assume that I knocked my hand? The shop assistant said that she was knocking her hand all the time, because “we women do it all the time without really noticing. It’s a woman thing”. And my engagement ring, she said, is made differently. I did not trust her speech, I just wanted my wedding ring fixed and I knew that any high quality and fine ring would not lose its diamonds just after 6 months. We left the ring with the shop. I felt that I had lost a part of me. A few weeks later, my ring was delivered ‘fixed’ to Belgium. I looked at it and although I don’t see very well (yeah, my glasses need to be changed), I noticed some scratched on the edges. They were very fine but the ring’s edges were no longer continuous as they used to be. I thought it’s not noticeable; the important thing was that my wedding ring was fixed. For one month I obsessively checked my wedding ring every day, several times a day. Was I washing up? I was removing it. Was I going to bed? I was removing it. Was I having a shower? I was removing it. Was I walking the dog? I was removing it. During a month I had at least three nightmares in which I would discover my ring that had lost again its diamonds. When I was waking up in the morning, the first thing that I would do was to check my wedding ring that was on the side night table. And then that evening came. We were at the circus and it was a lovely show. I enjoyed it to bits. And I showed it by clapping my hands. And I clapped, several times. The show was good. The show ended. Quick check of my wedding ring. Oh, no! Two diamonds are lost! I waited for the people on our row to leave. I knelled desperately, looking for my lost diamonds. It’s a lost cause, you’ll never find it, there is a hole in the row and below there is grass. I gave up. I looked again at my wedding ring and I saw that one diamond was moving.
As soon as I got home I wrote to the shop. No reply during the weekend. My husband called the shop on the next business day. They did not have an answer. The ring was taken to a local jeweler to check it up. The verdict came: “the gold is ‘broken’, the ring is sick, it cannot hold the diamonds. Even if new diamonds are set, they will eventually fall.” I asked the Michalopoulos for a refund. My wedding ring needed to be redone completely from scratch. The shop owner answered me: “I would like to point out that the workshop who repaired your ring was the one who produced the specific design. It is not an unknown workshop but a very reputable one, making and selling jewelry all over Greece.” In my opinion this workshop did not do a good job with refitting the diamonds. The shop agreed for a replacement but not for a refund. If we accepted a replacement, this meant that I would no longer wear my wedding ring, the one that my husband gave it to me on the day we said “I do” in the Church. I asked again for a refund. I told my story on this blog, mentioning the shop’s name. The shop accused me of slandering its name and asked me via their representing lawyer to remove the two posts. I did it, for the sake of my ring. I hope this story will have a happy ending.
Later edit, 28 Nov 2014: In the end I accepted a replacement. But the shop claims that I should pay for the shipment fee and for the insurance and take the re of the loss. Again, very disappointed. Not to mention that their lawyer shared with me ‘jewelery user instructions’ that really made me see the purchased jewellery in a different light – It seems we had bought a box of eggs, not a piece of jewelery that is designed to be worn.
Later edit, 07 Dec 2014: My husband and I decided to put an end to this story that only brought me grief so far. My husband decided to have the ring redone here in Belgium at a local jeweler. The ring will be redone from scratch and reinforced with additional gold on the edges. The remaining diamonds will be refitted with a guarantee covering diamond loss. This will be at our own expense. As we no longer trust the workshops of the Zakynthos Jeweler (Michalopoulos) and since we want to avoid going again through the same story, we prefer to calm down and put an end to this conflict even if this means spending even more money.
Later edit, 28 Apr 2014: I contacted the shop countless times to request to have the the faulty repair reimbursed. The shop refuses to refund and stopped even replying to my emails.
Later edit, 18 Nov 2014: The facts are: my ring lost three of its diamonds 6 months after my wedding. It got repaired by the jewelry shop in Zakynthos and one month later following the repair, two other diamonds fell.
As per European Consumer Center, I would have been entitled to a full refund based on the two year guarantee and based on a repair whose outcome lasted only one month. The shop declined the refund and offered instead to redo the ring or to provide another ring for the same value. I would have had to pay however the shipment and insurance cost for getting back the ring to Zakynthos. I refused, as I would have spent more than 100 euro for the shipment and I would have not have the guarantee that the second repair will actually last.
My husband and I decided to redo from scratch the ring locally at our expense. I asked the jewelry shop at least to reimburse us the cost of the initial repair that lasted only one month. They refused. Also they refused to provide me with the two diamonds that got lost after the initial repair.
As for my broken ring, it may have been just a simple thing like bad luck and human error related to the manufacturing. But it DID happen and the way the shopkeeper managed this situation is simply outraging. You don’t accuse a bride that her ring broke 6 months later only because of her fault and you don’t send your lawyer to threaten her by claiming that her story is fake.
It may be indeed a beautiful shop, most respectable on the island, but no past happy customer’s experience could wave the personal distress, frustration, anger, despair and disappointment that this affair caused me. If I could go back in time, I personally would not chose my wedding ring from there.