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Unsolicited jewellery care plan

In July last year we questioned the value for money of Michael Hill Jeweller's professional care plans. But what if you don't know you're buying one?

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A member contacted us about her experience when buying two pieces of jewellery from Michael Hill Jeweller (MHJ) in Hamilton. The saleswoman offered our member "a really good deal", which included a service plan that wouldn't "cost her anything”. The saleswoman discussed this "deal" with her manager and returned with a price for each piece of jewellery. Our member agreed to these prices. The saleswoman asked her to fill out her name and address on a professional care plan (PCP) pamphlet, telling her that if she had any problems with her jewellery over three years she could bring them back to MHJ for repairs and "it wouldn't cost [her] a thing".

When our member opened the bag she discovered a sealed envelope containing two PCPs, one for each piece of jewellery. Inside each plan was stapled a till docket revealing the amount paid for each item – these prices were lower than the figures our member had agreed to in the store. A more detailed invoice showed the cost of each item plus the fee for the PCP brought the total figure to the price she had agreed to pay.

She called the manager, telling him she'd been charged for a PCP she hadn't agreed to buy. She was pleasantly surprised to receive a refund of the PCP fees on her credit card within an hour. However, our member was understandably concerned about the saleswoman's tactics.

MHJ's Australian headquarters told us that when a PCP was part of the deal it was essential customers were fully aware of what they were purchasing and its cost. MHJ has strict policies and procedures to control PCP sales. These had been breached by the Hamilton saleswoman – and the store manager has now given extra training to his staff to reinforce MHJ's policies.

Our member had wanted to buy a third item in the jewellery set, but couldn't because of the extra cost of the PCP. When she received her refund she went to a different MHJ store and bought the item with no pressure to buy a PCP.

We say

  • MHJ acted promptly to right the "wrong". But this incident shows that strict store policies can't always curb overzealous salespeople.
  • If you're offered a "deal", make sure you check the real cost of the items and the cost of any service plan – and if you've been "mis-sold" a plan, get in touch with the store immediately.