The Downside of Online Auctions

Not everyone is enthusiastic about Internet transactions. Cecilia Gardner, executive director of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in New York, calls online auctions the “least reliable means of selling jewelry.” Approximately 25% of all JVC complaints concern Internet auction sites. Most complaints are from consumers and are about product misrepresentation. “You don’t necessarily know whom you’re buying from in an Internet auction, and you don’t get to see the product first-hand before you buy it,” she says.

When Gardner learns of complaints, she informs companies of disclosure requirements. “Most want to be educated,” she says. On rare occasions, some sellers are reported to consumer protection agencies or local district attorney’s offices. Gardner has also been in touch with a few dot-com auction houses to educate them about jewelry and gemstone quality.

Be careful about using jewelry-specific sites with few listings, few products, and prices that seem too good to be true. Associating with low-budget auction Web sites will only bruise the industry’s image, as well as that of your company.