The Gripe Sweepstakes
Customer complaint letters: Pick the winner!
Thank you for your time,
Joshua P. Spall
Fort Wayne, IN
(Result: A customer service rep called that night and a few days later Spall received a $300 coupon.)
3) With this defective ring I thee wed.
Attn: Customer Service
Dear Sir or Madam:
My wife Jill and I have matching Benchmark wedding rings ("Bamboo" style). A while after getting the rings, my wife noticed that her platinum outside ring moved slightly on the inner 18K ring. Eventually the platinum would do full rotations over the gold. She had a jeweler look at it about 2002; he told her not to worry because it was just like a "carousel ring." Over time, the platinum got looser until finally it seemed in danger of falling off of the inner ring. This happened with only normal wear. The ring never had any unusual handling, and no alterations were ever attempted to it. She checked with three local jewelers this month, all of whom said that they could not repair the ring.
Next Jill took the ring to the ValuExchange forty miles away in San Francisco, where we had originally bought it. Harold Apfelbaum at the ValuExchange identified the ring as a Benchmark. He said that no registration policy was in place at the time we bought our rings, and assured us that Benchmark stands behind its rings, saying "Benchmark is the best." We were further encouraged by looking at Benchmark's web site, particularly the "Lifetime Guarantee" and "Our Mission" sections of the "About Us" page. Harold sent the ring off to Benchmark to be repaired, and we felt confident that Benchmark would make it right.
We next learned from Harold that the ring was not reparable and Benchmark wanted $450 to replace it. We found this news surprising, to say the least. Harold indicated that Benchmark seemed to be under the impression that the ring had been altered in some way. Harold said there was nothing he could do, so Jill called Benchmark directly. Neither Sheila nor Sonya at Benchmark were able to help us. They didn't even seem to want to talk to us, and felt they should only be talking to Harold. They did give us a reference number to track the ring (PTECF256007).
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.