H Samuel – Beware!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me and my partner got engaged at the beginning of the year, although he chose the ring on the H Samuels website we had to visit our local store inorder to get the right size. 
The nearest H Samuel to me is in Cambridge, it is not a massive shop so I was not sure whether they would have the ring I wanted, but we went to have a look anyway.  The outside of the shop is like a typical jewellers with glass windows directly at the front and with the rest of the entrance being made totally of glass aswell, in these windows were various types of jewellery displayed, to be honest compared to some jewellers I did think that the window display at H Samuel did look slightly cluttered and over crowed, they had too many items displayed, other jewellers tend to have just a few items  which i find is better, with so many different things going on in one window it is hard to find what you are looking for. 
Upon entering the shop (after spotting the ring I wanted in the window) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the shop was not cluttered at all, but spacious with a glass counter down each side with a few items displayed in them and a selection of clocks and mirrors on the walls.  once inside we were approached by one of the assistants to see if we wanted any help.  I was pleased to see that the assistants unlike in may other jewellers I have visited did not follow you around whilst browsing for fear that you might touch something or pounce on you as soon as you stepped inside the entrance to look at the window displays.  This is one thing I hate about jewellers, why can they not just leave you to look and ask a little later if you need any help, and as for pacing around behind you whilst you are looking that just makes me want to leave the shop straight away, if I need any help I will ask!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Anyway I did not have that problem with H Samuel, the assistant was very friendly and knowledgeable about the stock. 
After informing her of the ring I wanted to try she took us to the corner of the shop where there was a table with 3 comfy chairs to try the ring on.  To me this was a nice touch as many other jewellers just take you to the counter to try things on, by having a dedicated place meant you had a little more privacy, we were the only ones in the shop but had it been busy you do not want to stand in amongst everyone trying on an engagement ring. 
The assistant gave me a finger measurer (not sure that’s the right term but you know what I mean) to find out the size I needed and went to get the nearest one they had.  Unfortunately this was a little too small and the next size up was several sizes too big.  Again the assistant was not pushy but offered to let me try some different but similar rings in my exact size or alter that one.  They assistants were very patient and did not rush us even though it was getting near to closing time.  After trying on several different rings I decided the original ring was the one I really wanted.  The assistant offered to have it resized which we were happy to hear was free of charge!!! 
When paying for the ring H Samuel give you the option to either pay up front, pay a deposit and the rest on collection or pay a deposit and the rest in instalments (on credit) although we paid there and then for it I did think this was a good idea as it means there is a payment option for all customers.  The ring only took a week to resize, all jewellery is sent away for altering and being a small shop they only had deliveries once a week, however this was not a problem.  As promised the ring was back within the week, and we even had a phone call to confirm this. 
OK so I have only really commented on my experience of buying a ring form H Samuel however they have a fast selection of necklaces, watches, bracelets and many other items in a variety of metals (gold, white gold, silver) There really is something for everyone. I also found that many items were being sold a reasonable price, items range from under £100 to several thousand, obviously the cost depends on what you are buying. When we made our purchase they had a sale on so we got quite a bit for money off the ring (not the reason we went there) but it was a bit of a bonus.

However that is not the end of it, for 3 months I was extremely happy with my engagement ring and the service we had received at H Samuel, but this quickly changed, as I have gone on to explain below.

About 3 months after I had collected my engagement ring I had just gone on holiday, after waking up one morning I felt something scratch my hand, looking down to investigate I was shocked to see that the band of my engagement ring had snapped clean in half. Now I think I should point out here that I had had the ring made a little bit smaller when I had purchased it, however that is not the point, I have had several other rings altered in the past and NEVER have they snapped in half like this one had. Naturally I was angry and upset that this had happened, and not just to any old ring but my engagement which was only 3 months old. Anyway I decided to revisit the shop once I arrived back home from holiday to sort the problem out, after all they had been so helpful when buying the ring I was sure the matter would be quickly resolved to a satisfactory level, well that’s what I thought anyway. Just to be sure I asked my mum to ring the store and explain what had happened just to see if there was anything in particular we needed to do or bring with us when we returned to the store. This was a Sunday and I know for a fact that the opening times are 11:00am so just after 11:00 my mum phoned the store and got no answer, she continued to try several times when finally she did get a reply and was asked to ring back in 12 minutes, slightly annoyed by this along with the fact that my brand new engagement ring had broken she did call back after 15 minutes and decided to check what time they opened, the girl on the end of the phone refused to answer her on several occasions, and it wasn’t until my mum pushed for an answer that she said “well we were late opening”. We were not given much information over the phone, and were just told to come in and speak to the manager, annoyed at the way my mum had been spoken to on the phone we decided to leave the matter until I arrive back from our holiday.

After arriving home I decided to go to Cambridge and revisit the branch straight away after all I was keen to get my engagement ring back. Upon entering the shop I approached the counter and was greeted by a young girl who was serving, I explained to her what had happened expressing that I was upset about this issue as it should not have happened, but after all things do go wrong from time to time and I was sure she would offer a solution to the problem. The girl I was speaking to took the ring from me and examined it without a word of apology she disappeared through a door the other side of the shop, I assumed to get the manager. She later returned and informed me that I could have the ring repaired or they could send it away for 2 weeks to see if it was faulty or not if it was they would replace it, again no apology whatsoever. This was not the response I had expected, and to be perfectly honest the options which were very bluntly offered were not good enough. Had he ring have been repaired, there was nothing to say that a few months down the line the same thing would happen, this time I may not have been so lucky and the ring could have fallen off of my finger and I could have lost it. Secondly yes the ring could have been tested for faulty gold, however the way this was put made it perfectly clear that they had no intentions of finding their gold faulty, I would have been left without my engagement ring for several weeks with it being returned to me repaired, taking me back to my first problem of the same thing happening again. I politely informed the girl of this and that I wanted to speak to the manager, who I noticed at this point was lingering in the doorway peering through. The girl did not even have the good grace to answer me but instead stood behind the counter looking from the ring to the door where the manager was no less than 6 times!!!!!

So whilst I was not pleased with how the assistant had dealt with the issue I put it down to lack of experience and was hopeful that the manager would be a little more helpful. When he finally decided to grace us with his presence I was a little shocked to find myself faced with what I can only describe as a little boy in a suit posing as a manager, now I’m only 25 myself but their so called manager was considerably younger than me and had probably only just finished school, anyway not one to judge on first appearances I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Again I repeated my story to him whilst he stood behind the counter examining the ring, he too repeated the same options to me, I went on to explain to him why I was not happy with this, all of this occurred without an apology from the manager, which I would have thought would have been the first thing he would have done!!!!!! I myself am actually in charge of dealing with customer care matters for the company I work for so have a very good knowledge and experience of how to deal with customer complaints, faulty items and how to treat a customer that is unhappy, it consists of a few basic steps

1) Most importantly the first thing is apologise to the customer whether they are just generally not happy with their purchase or whether their item is faulty
2) Listen to what the customer is saying and engage in the conversation with them, this shows you are properly listening and genuinely care about their problem, not stand there in silence!!!!
3) Explain the options the customer has, but most importantly if the item they have purchased is faulty off a replacement as it is the customers right to have the item replaced should they wish

After I had explained to the so called manager that these options were not satisfactory and the reasons as to why I was not happy with this I expected him to respond after all isn’t that how a conversation works? But to my surprise the stood there in total silence basically not knowing what to say to me, after a minute or so passed with me waiting for him to respond and him standing there in silence I asked him whether he was actually going to offer me a replacement due to the nature of the complaint. This time he did answer with “well that’s one of the options I gave you”. At this point I was getting very annoyed but I kept calm, but that was NOT one of the options he gave me he gave me 2 options I mentioned above to have it repaired or have it tested and then repaired if it was faulty, not once did he apologise or offer to replace the ring for me. This was not a cheap £1 ring from a market it was an expensive white gold and diamond ring firstly I do not expect to have to snap in half and secondly whilst I understand these things do happen I do not expect to be treated in this way by the manager and shop staff when I go in to sort the problem out.

The ring was ordered for me and I could collect it the following week. I was a little upset that the ring I was going to have was not my original engagement ring, but I could not afford to risk it being repaired and then the same thing happening again resulting in me losing the ring altogether. I left the shop still without a single apology for what had happened to me. I returned to the shop a week later to collect the ring and unfortunately the same girl was in there serving along with the manager (and I use the word manager in the loosest of terms) I handed over the receipt and was given the replacement ring, oh surprise surprise not a single apology once again, the manager didn’t even come over to us, the least he could have done was come to see if we were happy with the replacement and apologise for the hassle and upset, but no he didn’t.

The manager of the store clearly had no managerial experience, no people skills and no knowledge whatsoever of how to deal with complaints and members of the public. I felt like I had to coach him through the complaints process and how to deal with it. When you go to a shop with a problem you expect it to be dealt with in an acceptable manner by the manager, not at the Cambridge Grafton Centre H Samuel.

I was disgusted with the way I had been treated and I decided to take the matter higher, not necessarily to get something out of it but I felt that the issue needed to e addressed. I wrote to their customer care department to explain what had happened and where it had happened. A few days later I received a letter saying they were looking into it, a week later I received a second letter basically saying sorry and that the staff had done all they could to help, well I’m sorry but they had not. I went on to inform them of this as I was annoyed at the way they had disregarded everything I had told them and basically was telling me I was lying. It took me a total of 4 letters, 4 months and the threat of taking the matter further to even get a response from them. I finally received a letter apologising along with a gift voucher for H Samuel, do they really think I want to shop with them again!!!!!

I felt that I had to update my H Samuel experience to warn people about H Samuel, I also have friends that have had similar problems with H Samuel. Whilst they paint a picture of a reputable company that does what it can for its customers and cares about its customers, do not be fooled. Once they have got your money they don’t care. I definitely would not recommend H Samuel to anyone especially this particular branch. If any of you out there are thinking of by a piece of jewellery in the future please do not shop with H Samuel, I would hate for anyone to have to be treated in the way we were, the whole situation was totally unacceptable. If I dealt with my customers in the way we were dealt with my boss would be very disappointed with me. 

(Published on Ciao & Dooyoo under the same name)