Be a smart shopper when buying jewellery, check all the facts. When thinking about a buying a special gift, many consumers consider jewellery. The Competition Bureau has come up with some helpful suggestions for consumers to be smart shoppers when considering a jewellery purchase.
Many jewellery retailers advertise various types of sales and often offer discounts off the represented regular prices for their products. As well, jewellery retailers often advertise the appraisal value of certain items or provide appraisal quotes orally to consumers.
Comparative price advertising, when it is truthful, improves the quality of information available to consumers. However, the Competition Bureau has received numerous complaints from consumers and competitors in the past regarding deceptive claims made in the advertising and promotion of jewellery. Here are a few situations you might encounter and should be cautious about:
- Retailers who have a continuous sale going on such as a banner stating "Sale-50% Off" which has been up for an extended period of time. In such cases, the sale price is often the regular price and no discount exists.
- Regular prices that might have been inflated and then marked down to give the false impression of a sale. For example, "Regular $1000, Sale $499". In this case, the regular price may be a phony regular price.
- Retailers who use terms such as "Appraisal Value", "Certified price", "Retailed at" or "Manufacturer's Suggested Price" and offer discounts off these prices. Such terms may not represent actual regular prices. Also, both the appraisal price and the lower price are sometimes higher than the item's regular price elsewhere. For example, "Appraisal Value: $2000, our price $1200" where the same item sells for $1000 at other jewellery stores.
- Retailers who misrepresent the reason that they are having a "sale". For example, a retailer advertises a "Going Out of Business" sale when they are just closing their store to re-open under another name. Generally, a "Going Out of Business", "Closing Down" or "Bankruptcy" sale should not last longer than a few months. Further, when a store is closing its operations, it should not be selling additional inventory brought in from other sources unless the retailer makes this fact clearly known to consumers.
Tips to Guide You in Your Jewellery Purchases:
- Shop around and compare prices and quality. Don't be lured by the offer of a "sale" or a discount, as the deal may not always be as good as it seems.
- Be wary of retailers whose products are always on "sale" or who advertise continuous sales.
- Ask about the retailer's refund policy and if you can return the item if you are not satisfied with your purchase.
- Ask for a detailed receipt of your purchase. You should have a record of the price, a
description of the item, the store's refund/exchange policy and the retailer's name and address. If this is not forthcoming, think twice before buying.
Again, expressions such as "Appraised Valued", "Certified at", "Retail Value" or "Manufacturer's Suggested Price" generally do not mean the same as regular price.
If you make an important jewellery purchase, ask the retailer for the appraisal certificate if possible. Verify that what the retailer has said is consistent with what is stated in the appraisal.
Check whether the precious metal quality mark is stamped on the item or found on the label or box (for example: 10K for gold). If there is a quality mark, there must also be a registered trademark applied in the same manner. The trademark represents the company standing behind the quality. The Competition Bureau maintains and encourages fair competition in Canada by the administration and application of the provisions of four statutes: the Competition Act; the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act; the Textile Labelling Act; and the Precious Metals Marking Act. A fair and competitive marketplace also helps to ensure competitive prices and product choices for consumers.
The Competition Bureau examines complaints of suspected false or misleading representations. Consumers who believe they have been misled or anyone who suspects that a jewellery retailer is engaging in false or misleading advertising is encouraged to contact the Competition Bureau at 1-800-348-5358 or visit its web site at www.strategis.gc.ca.
Jewellers Vigilance Canada (J.V.C) is a non-profit association funded by the jewellery industry to advance ethical practices within the industry. Contact J.V.C for any complaints or inquiries regarding issues surrounding misleading advertising, the Competition Act, and appraisal guidelines at:
Jewellers Vigilance Canada, Inc.
600 - 27 Queen Street East