Consignment Caveat: Tips to avoid misundertandings, scams and property loss

James Hall stood in front of Winchell Jewelry Designs on Wall Street for nearly two weeks in November 2013 to call attention to his dispute with the store owner. The pair hope to resolve the issue in court on April 10.  Pat Sherman
James Hall stood in front of Winchell Jewelry Designs on Wall Street for nearly two weeks in November 2013 to call attention to his dispute with the store owner. The pair hope to resolve the issue in court on April 10. Pat Sherman
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James Hall stood in front of Winchell Jewelry Designs on Wall Street for nearly two weeks in November 2013 to call attention to his dispute with the store owner. The pair hope to resolve the issue in court on April 10. Pat Sherman

By Pat Sherman

I’m having a severe problem getting paid by this company.

They’re hanging up on me;

saying the owner is out of town.

I trusted them.

During the past five months,

La Jolla Light

has received several complaints about consignment and resale businesses. Alleged problems include: delayed or partial payment; being paid less than an amount agreed upon in a contract; not having items returned to the owner upon request; or having gems in jewelry pieces swapped for cheaper grade stones or altered without the owner’s consent.

The consignors — those who place items such as jewelry, clothes or designer purses in the hands of another to sell (the consignee), but retain ownership until the goods are sold — are also quick to note, however, previous exchanges and successful transactions with reputable consignment businesses operating in La Jolla.

A common thread among those interviewed for this story and who experienced problems was the stream of excuses as to why property had not been returned or, if sold at consignment, why the owner had not been paid.

For nearly two weeks last November, retired sheet metal worker James Hall stood in front of Winchell Jewelry Designs (aka Winchell Designs) on Wall Street, brandishing a large sign that alleged, “Karl Winchell stole my $13,000 ring.”

In complaints filed with both the California Attorney General’s office and the San Diego Better Business Bureau (BBB), Hall states that in May 2013, he left a diamond engagement ring he purchased for more than $13,200 with Winchell, to be sold for a minimum of $8,000. Hall said when he phoned Winchell a month later to tell him he had a potential buyer for the ring who wished to stop by and see it, Winchell told him it was on display in the front window of the business.

However, Hall said that when he and the buyer arrived, the ring was not there. He said Winchell told him it had been sent to a business for laser enhancement to increase its marketability (without Hall’s consent). Hall said when he called next at the end of summer to inquire again about his ring he was told it was on a “jewelry road show” where it was being shown to potential buyers (again, without his consent).

Hall said that when he visited the store again in October, Winchell told him a buyer willing to pay more than $10,000 for the ring had placed a $5,000 down payment on it (though Hall said he received no money at that time).

To date, Hall claims he has not gotten his ring back, nor been paid anything for it.

Approached by the

Light

at his store in November, Winchell conceded that he had not yet paid Winchell for the ring, “because people are making payments on it,” he said. “It’s on layaway.”

Asked for further comment, Winchell said, “I would rather talk to a judge and have the courts handle it.”

In a letter to the local BBB office responding to Hall’s complaint, Winchell said he sold the ring for $9,000, though added, “I cannot pay Mr. Hall until I have received full payment on this ring due to store policy.”

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