De Beers Settlement Could Mean Consumer Queries

Jewelers could be hit with questions stemming from the De Beers class-action settlement, Jewelers of America said recently.

The suit will return money to any consumer who bought a diamond between Jan. 1, 1994, and March 31, 2006. The claim forms were due to be released Dec. 21, 2007. Advertisements for the settlement will appear in the first quarter of this year on TV and radio and in magazines such as Parade and USA Weekend.

“[News of the settlement] is going to be everywhere,” says Peggy Jo Donahue, JA director of public affairs. “Consumers will hear about it on the radio and on TV. We feel strongly that jewelers should be prepared.”

Jewelers of America has created a list of talking points for jewelers to handle consumer inquiries. (See sidebar.)

Donahue notes that consumers may not have receipts from decade-old purchases. “Consumers, as most people, are not careful about keeping records,” she says. “For jewelers it could create this desire for back information.”

She adds that, in most cases, jewelers may not have the old receipts either. “Most consumers don’t expect jewelers to have records going back to 1994,” she says. “But to have some ready quick answers to give them is important.”

She doesn’t think the suit will have a major impact on consumer confidence, especially if jewelers can help their customers. “We want jewelers to be able to answer questions with confidence and not feel there is anything to apologize for,” she adds. “This is a class-action suit like many others.”

Claim forms for the trade portion of the suit also were slated to be released Dec. 21, 2007. Instructions on how to fill out trade claim forms are available at jvclegal.org and in the article, “You’ve Got Cash: FAQs About the De Beers Antitrust Settlement” (JCK, November 2007, p. 84).