I’d bought a little gold dress watch from a girl at work, Marcy Gold: Go to Marcy Gold for gold, she liked to say. And, as she was a supervisor, it made sense to buy from her in more ways than one. The watch was pretty enough, it was battery-run, it kept time, and she’d charged me only $250. It was an unknown Italian brand that said it was 14 K gold. It really never crossed my mind to wonder at the cheapness of it, or how she’d come by it. Several years later, it was no longer keeping time. I figured it needed a new battery, and took it, just before Thanksgiving, to a local jeweler. The place I took it was quite swank, a handsome, spacious temple of jewelry, in the swankest local mall, a Reed’s; and, as that regional chain was founded here in Wilmington, North Carolina, I imagine they considered it their home branch. At any rate, they checked it out, and told me the battery was fine: the watch just wasn’t working. So I agreed to ship it to some watch repair place in Michigan, at my expense, of course. Knew I was running into the holiday season, was prepared to wait patiently. Word came soon enough: to fix the works, $185. To detail and clean the bracelet, $150. To replace the face and the crystal, heaven knows why, $300. Suffice it to say that all told, these people in Michigan intended to charge me three times what I’d paid for the watch to fix it. Well, at that point it did occur to me to wonder why Marcy Gold had charged me so little for it; was it perhaps stolen, and therefore worth much more? But I’d long since retired, left that job, and left the city, too, so the past was going to keep its own secrets in that regard. There was the question: what was that watch worth, and should I put so much money into it? I decided against it, and asked that the watch be shipped back, once again at my expense, of course. And meanwhile, I decided to think about getting a new dress watch. So I went to eBay, where I saw a ―Woman’s Dress Watch, Piaget, 18k gold.‖ It was handsome, Piaget was certainly a famous, expensive, honored Swiss brand, and I fell in love, decided it would make a swell Christmas present from me to me. It was only $300; also seemed awful cheap. Here is what remains of the listing: Piaget Women's dress watch 18K gold Item number:110472314436 Price: $305.00 Sale date: Dec 25, 2009 The watch arrived shortly after Christmas, sent by the seller, who called herself ―XOTXAndalusians.‖ I sure was excited as I tore into the package. Soon I was dismayed, the thing wanted winding. I was sure the eBay ad had said nothing about winding; I didn’t want a windup watch. In fact, I’d just barely given my niece another pretty little antique watch I’d had that was a windup; I didn’t want a windup. And the one I’d given my niece stopped winding when it was wound enough; this Piaget didn’t. And I’m afraid I must have promptly overwound it. It wasn’t working. Well, there was some very ill-tempered correspondence between me and XOTXAndalusions. I wanted to return that watch; she pointed out, truthfully, unfortunately for me, that the ad mentioned the watch was a windup in the small print. I sent the watch back to her anyway: she sent it back again. Mucho angry, some absolutely crazy correspondence that I deleted, more’s the pity, and we all regret that, I’m sure. But, I figured I was stuck with the Piaget. Just didn’t know what to do with it. So I finally decided to get the first little gold watch back from Michigan, the holidays having long since passed, and try bringing both watches together in for repair to someplace that had a repair facility in town. First item on the agenda: to get the first watch back. It was easier said than done, just couldn’t get it back, even after several phone calls. Lost my temper. As the local store is part of a regional chain, I went to the company’s web site and complained. That didn’t seem sufficient, so I found their Face Book site to complain. Then I joined Twitter in order to complain. Strangely enough, I heard from the store shortly after that busy, enraged morning: the first little gold watch was actually back from Michigan, had been back for who knows how long. Went and picked it up. When next in another part of town, took it into a jewelry store I’d been told fixed watches on premises. Nope. They told me there was a good watch repair guy in Sears; a trip to that store, when next in that part of town got added to the agenda. Before I could get to Sears, heard from Reed’s again; they had opened an onsite watch repair facility, and, in view of our unhappy history on the first little gold watch, were offering me free repair for it. So, that trip got added to the agenda, when next in that part of town, and bring both watches in. I saw the manager, a dignified middle-aged man, obviously with a wealth of jewelry experience – it was he who had called me—presented both watches, explained the situation, went and had lunch with my husband, in any situation, no matter how life-threatening, he always wants lunch. Got home to find a voicemail: call the manager. He very diplomatically explained to me that the Piaget watch was a counterfeit, and was, furthermore, only 18K gold plated, therefore of course, not worth a red cent, not even for scrap, and certainly not worth repair. And, in retrospect, running our chat through my mind, I could see that he’d been very cautious and diplomatic in his discussion of the ―Piaget‖ watch in the store. And, come to think of it, even the receipt he’d given me for the watches indicated he doubted the bona fides of the ―Piaget‖ watch. What to do? Last thing I wanted was any further contact with the watch’s seller; our previous contacts had been exceedingly unpleasant -- why did I ever delete those e-mails? But she’d sold me a counterfeit watch. So finally, I screwed up my nerve, and e-mailed her back again, and she went bananas. Accused me of lying, trying to destroy her eBay business, being in league with the devil while she was a good Christian, wanted to know why I’d taken so long to bring the watch in for repair, accused that dignified manager of lying and cheating, suggested he’d misled me the better to get the watch for himself, and like that. Mucho crazy argument back and forth, why’d I ever delete it. I suggested she should refund me $150; she agreed, then changed her mind. So I opened an eBay complaint, the gist of which follows. The item doesn't match the seller's description. You have tried contacting the seller You paid on Dec 25, 2009 You contacted the seller through your personal email The seller has responded to you The seller isn't working with you to solve the problem You entered the phone number -------- We can share your phone number with the seller. The buyer said the item is fake Additional information: "Buyer got a negative response from the seller. Received a fake item." You wanted: A full refund Well, the seller finally came to her senses, and PayPal refunded me $150. So I closed the case on February 5, 2010, and me and the seller were friends again. I offered to return the watch to her again; she said no thanks. But she’d mentioned that she’d only just bought the watch on eBay in November, before Thanksgiving, and had actually reused the previous seller’s listing. I offered to try to help her take a case against the previous seller, as the watch had undoubtedly been a falsely-advertised counterfeit all along. She said no thanks, now that we’d reached an agreement, she preferred to put the whole thing behind her, and get a chuckle out of it in times to come, when she’d cooled down. It was the chuckle that did it, I suddenly remembered another watch. Forty years ago, I’d been occasionally dating a fellow for whom I just didn’t care. I recognized that he was ambitious, a hustler and hard worker. But he wasn’t physically attractive, short, heavy and bandy-legged, and he wasn’t my personality type, either, I prefer my men well-read, well-informed about the world, and witty – who wouldn’t – and Joe Marcus was none of the above. I’d kept trying to end the non-relationship, as it happens, and had always refused to sleep with him. Why would I have? So he gave me a little gold dress watch, apparently thought that would change my mind about him. But I just didn’t like the watch, and it just didn’t change my mind. A month or two passed; I was in London, England, on business. That watch had stopped working. In company with two men friends, I went into a very swank Bond Street jewelers, presented the watch, and requested it be repaired. The jeweler put his loupe in his eye, looked at the watch, and said very regretfully and diplomatically, ―I’m sorry, Madame, but this watch is a counterfeit.‖ He evidently expected me to get mad or sad; instead I burst into laughter. My friends suggested I should ―wear a green coat,‖ evidently a cockney expression meaning pretend to know nothing, and we should immediately rush around to pawnbrokers, and I should try to ―flog‖ the watch as genuine. Well, I wouldn’t do that, of course, as it had cost me nothing and I was out nothing, and had gained a great story. Years later, I was back in New York, and some woman called me, don’t know exactly how she found me or why she did. She told me she had been an airline stewardess, and had married Joe Marcus, and had immediately had, I forget, two or three children right off the bat. And he’d dropped dead of a heart attack, not yet forty-five. Well, I’d known he was a hustler; he’d work all day at his job, soccer reporter for ―The New York Post,‖ and then stay up all night working on film treatments, or whatever. Evidently he hadn’t carried enough insurance, and that woman was stuck with two or three kids, and no useful job experience. She had gone to work for the New York State Department of Labor, in one of its unemployment centers, for $11,000 a year; they paid that kind of salary then. And it was a terrible job, too, requiring standing, and using the machine they had then, to process the unemployed people’s identity cards, it was guaranteed to make your arm feel like it was being torn out of its socket: all day long. Felt it necessary to share this story with XOTXAndalusians, of course, and she was mighty amused. Had a chuckle. And she added, for good measure, that the stewardess probably hadn’t liked poor Joe much better than I did. So that makes two counterfeit watches in one lifetime. Hope I get no more.
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