The Gripe Sweepstakes
Customer complaint letters: Pick the winner!
Jill and I have found this very upsetting. It took me a while to figure out exactly why it was so upsetting to us. It is not in any large measure the money, though $450 is a significant sum. Certainly, the implication that we are not being honest when we say that the ring has never been altered, nor had any treatment other than the very normal wear that a ring receives when on a woman's finger, plays a part. Jill and I both take our integrity very seriously, and our word is our bond. The ring has never been altered, or received any unusual handling of any kind.
The most upsetting part of this, though, has been something that it took me a little longer to put my finger on. I hope that I can explain it adequately.
Jill and I chose our wedding bands together on March 8, 1995. We had decided we wanted matching rings, to symbolize the bond we would have with each other. After looking at many patterns, we chose Benchmark's Bamboo style. When the rings arrived, we felt they were the most simple, elegant and beautiful rings we had ever seen.
Our wedding was on April 23, 1995. We exchanged rings, saying, "with this ring I thee wed".
At first, we were very conscious of the rings on our finger, just as we were very conscious of being newly wed. Over time, though, our rings became a part of ourselves, just as Jill and I each increasingly felt ourselves as half of our greater whole. We each occasionally reach over to the other and click our rings together, which is our unspoken way of saying "I love you". These rings are not a piece of jewelry to us. They are our very real symbol to each other and to the world of the vows we made to love, honor and cherish each other, until death do us part. I know that nowadays not everyone takes their wedding vows seriously, but I assure you that we do.
What is so upsetting to us about this process is that it could change what these rings mean to us. When we look at these rings, we want to be reminded of what we have always been reminded of, and what we were meant to always be reminded of: our commitment to each other. We don't want to look Jill's ring and think of it as just another piece of defective merchandise that we had to pay for twice because the company that made it was unwilling to stand behind it.
Over the years, some of my friends have become quite cynical. They roll their eyes when I say that I still have faith in basic human decency. I know that, in the stress and rush of our daily lives, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of what is really important. But I also know in my heart of hearts that most people don't say things they don't mean, don't try to wiggle out of their commitments, and will do the right thing when they are given the chance. So all I ask is that whoever receives this letter pass it on to a person at Benchmark who is in a position to uphold Benchmark's principles, as stated in the Benchmark web site (copied by me below). I'm confident that they will do the right thing.
Every Benchmark piece is backed by a Lifetime Guarantee that states:
· If your ring is ever damaged during normal wear, Benchmark will repair or replace your wedding ring free of charge.
·If your ring finger size ever changes, Benchmark will re-size or replace your wedding ring free of charge.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.