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Shopping consultants - Beware!

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I've learned over the past few years that the onboard shopping "consultants" are actually funded by the big stores (e.g. Diamonds International, Cariloha, etc) and to take their "recommendations" very lightly because they are only recommending the stores that pay them.

 

Unfortunately, my experiences on a recent NLC cruise hit a new low with them recently.

 

We were looking at a piece with a $13.5K price. I asked for their "best price" and they came back with $10K. We're thinking about it, wandering around a bit and the shopping consultant approaches us and we chat a bit. She says the most I'll get them to come down is another 10% but probably won't get that much. Also tells me we're dealing with the manager so, we'll get the best possible price. We go back and ask if they can do any better, they come down to $8900. We talk back and forth, my wife is still unsure and finally I say "can you do $8K, I think I can talk my wife into $8K". They go off, supposedly have to call NY (yeah, sure), my wife says to me "No, don't want to spend that much now", I tell them "never mind", but they quickly say "OK, $8K". We apologized and left. Later that afternoon, we see the shopping consultant again - she tells us she's been looking for us and the store is willing to give us an even better price (we didn't go back).

 

So the trusted shopping consultant tried to convince us the absolute best price was going to be $9K. We got them to $8K and apparently, they were ready to go even lower and they sent her out to find us.

 

The lesson: Don't trust the shopping consultants and make sure you keep pushing for a lower price. I got a 13.5K piece down to $8K and can't help but wonder how much further they would go.

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Excellent writeup. Thanks for sharing your experience.

 

Keith

Shopping consultants are like contractors. Some good and some not so good. Let the buyer beware.

 

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Hmm, I wouldn't spend $8k on a piece of jewelry overseas unless I had done so much research that I would have known what to get down to, and even then would have been weary.

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I will never, ever get why people buy expensive stuff overseas. Two biggest are jewelry including watches, and so called art. There are so many places to buy stuff right here at home. Places that you can go back to if there is a problem.

 

And, isn't it amazing that there are jewelry stores at all these tourist spots - from Disney hotels, to Caribbean ports to Alaska.

 

Thanks to OP for sharing.

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To the 2 recent comments about "why buy overseas":

 

First, your comments aren't really relevant to the thesis of the base note which is directed at those that are already of the mind to buy overseas. But, this is Crusie Critic and comments going off topic is common, so I'll go along and comment.

 

We have found that the Carribean shops have far better selection than you find in stores in the US, except for the chain stores in the malls. As for the chain stores in the malls, the Carribean stores beat those prices every time. We have purchased fine jewelry in the past and always had them appraised by a local trusted jeweler and we've always been very pleased with the result.

 

That all being said, one of the reasons my wife was reluctant was exactly 1025Ccruise had said - we hadn't done enough research. But that's the difference between my wife and I :)

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Since my fiancee works in Sales, we always make it a point to go to the Diamonds International presentation on the ship so she (and me, to an extent) can observe what they do and see if we win any of the door prizes.

 

 

 

  • We've seen their reps tell the attendees "Now I want you to turn to page 3 of your guide and write 8:30 AM Priority Tender at the top" and the attendees respond, like Stepford Cruisers, by turning to page 3 and dutifully writing it down.
  • We've seen reps recommend bringing multiple forms of payment because they remember that one lady who couldn't buy a $10,000 ring because her credit card was maxed out and boy wasn't she lucky to have brought a second card (PRO TIP: If you max out your credit card at a Diamonds International in some foreign land, you're adulting wrong).
  • We've seen their reps tell people to be sure and buy that diamond you like from the first port because if you see one at a later port that you like more, you can just return the first one for full credit and buy the second (which also means that you may well be buying USED jewelry when you shop there -- lightly used, but still used).
  • We've rolled our eyes when they explain "Now remember to have your VIP card handy because this card tells the Diamonds International staff that you're a smart cruiser who knows what a good deal really is" (No, it just tells the Diamonds International staff that you're a credulous sucker they can rip off).
  • We've been appalled at their telling people "Diamonds International's warranty includes a 48-hour return period if you don't like what you bought for any reason" when the warranty listed in the guide clearly states that "Buyer's Remorse" is NOT a valid reason for a return.

Needless to say, we stick around long enough to see if we've won anything, then high-tail it out of there (by which point the presentation is largely done and the DI spokesdroid is repeating themselves). While we've thought periodically about working in sales on a cruise ship (she'd be the seller and I'd be the bookkeeper/assistant/whatever-you-call-the-other-dude-who's-not-selling), it would be at the art auction, not Diamonds International. We have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror every morning and like who we see looking back at us.

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Since my fiancee works in Sales, we always make it a point to go to the Diamonds International presentation on the ship

 

I love the term "Diamonds International presentation" - because that certainly is what it is.

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On my last cruise I decided to go to one of these shopping presentations. It was supposed to be for Alaska shopping. Well it wasn’t. They only really talked about jewelry which I had no interest. Never again.

 

 

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On my last cruise I decided to go to one of these shopping presentations. It was supposed to be for Alaska shopping. Well it wasn’t. They only really talked about jewelry which I had no interest. Never again.

That's how we got roped into attending our first DI presentation: We were at the big exercise center giveaway/spa sales pitch and the Cruise Director stopped by to say "At 2PM there will be a presentation in the theater about the ports we'll be stopping at and how to get good deals on the local merchandise." We figured it'd be a presentation on local customs, how to haggle, etc. Nope. It was hard sell on how great Diamonds International is and how your life will never be complete unless you're wearing an expensive-ass watch (I haven't regularly worn a wristwatch in years), and here are all the Diamonds International shops at the ports, blah blah blah.

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Hmm, I wouldn't spend $8k on a piece of jewelry overseas unless I had done so much research that I would have known what to get down to, and even then would have been weary.

 

That's my feeling exactly. Even with the research how can you be sure exactly what you are buying.

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I will never, ever get why people buy expensive stuff overseas. Two biggest are jewelry including watches, and so called art. There are so many places to buy stuff right here at home. Places that you can go back to if there is a problem.

 

And, isn't it amazing that there are jewelry stores at all these tourist spots - from Disney hotels, to Caribbean ports to Alaska.

 

Thanks to OP for sharing.

I agree with you.

 

But, my inlaws have been dealing with a jewelry store for years in STT that they love. My BIL even bought an engagement ring from them on the phone and it was everything it was cracked up to be.

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I have to add here that some friends of ours have gotten some really nice jewelry at good prices in the Caribbean, but they worked at a local jewelry store for years and know what to look for and what a good price is. I admit do I love the look on the salesperson's face when my friend pulls out his loupe and starts examining the stones. It's usually a cross between surprise and horror.....

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To the 2 recent comments about "why buy overseas":

 

First, your comments aren't really relevant to the thesis of the base note which is directed at those that are already of the mind to buy overseas. But, this is Crusie Critic and comments going off topic is common, so I'll go along and comment.

 

We have found that the Carribean shops have far better selection than you find in stores in the US, except for the chain stores in the malls. As for the chain stores in the malls, the Carribean stores beat those prices every time. We have purchased fine jewelry in the past and always had them appraised by a local trusted jeweler and we've always been very pleased with the result.

 

That all being said, one of the reasons my wife was reluctant was exactly 1025Ccruise had said - we hadn't done enough research. But that's the difference between my wife and I :)

 

In the age of the Internet, "not enough selection" isn't really a valid argument anymore. Now, being on a cruise, internet access is a bit harder to have, but if you're dropping that much on something, no reason you can't step away, do some quick research, and then come back if you really want it. That said, the only thing that likely will be "gone" before you get a chance to do any research is art, but art usually can't be researched to any good specificity in price anyways. Jewelry can. You get the basic price of gold/diamonds/jewels beforehand, and a few sample prices from "name brand" designers and you can get a ballpark of what you should be paying. Any "big" designer can be bought on shore. That said, I don't recall any "brands" on a cruise ship that deserve a "designer" premium, but I haven't sailed Norwegian before.

 

IMO, just think of it as a casual splurge. Like overpaying for a drink or meal. You do it more for the experience with no real thought about the price. Cuz if you need to consider the price, then just buy it back home. Diamonds especially. If it's got any diamond bigger than a filler diamond, just get it from BlueNile.com or Good Old Gold or your local shop if you've got a good relationship already.

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my inlaws have been dealing with a jewelry store for years in STT that they love. My BIL even bought an engagement ring from them on the phone and it was everything it was cracked up to be.

I've also been dealing with a jeweler in STT for over 10 years. We're very pleased with the quality and value. We've been doing business so long they'll even send me pieces on approval.

 

When once questioned over why they don't advertise on the ships, our jeweler said they'd rather pass the savings on to the buyer.

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i had a similar experience.

 

i went to DI in cozumel (the one right at the pier). that was the location where the consultant was working. i found a necklace i LOVED. price tag was $3750. I couldnt swing it. they came down to $3500 and i said no thanks.

 

we then walked the entire storefront of cozumel. At the second DI, i saw the same necklace, this time priced at $3000. they offered me $2500. i said no thanks.

 

we then hit the third DI. same necklace was around $2500. I said no thanks (at this point, we saw what was happening and knew there was a fourth DI).

 

We then proceeded to the fourth DI. at this one, the necklace was about $2100. Knowing this was the last stop, i said look, ive seen this necklace now four times today, price consistently dropping. I said if they would take $1500 cash id buy it right then and there.

 

they then did the usual dog and pony show with the calculator, "calls to the higher ups" and i walked out with the necklace for $1500.

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I've learned over the past few years that the onboard shopping "consultants" are actually funded by the big stores (e.g. Diamonds International, Cariloha, etc) and to take their "recommendations" very lightly because they are only recommending the stores that pay them.

 

Unfortunately, my experiences on a recent NLC cruise hit a new low with them recently.

 

We were looking at a piece with a $13.5K price. I asked for their "best price" and they came back with $10K. We're thinking about it, wandering around a bit and the shopping consultant approaches us and we chat a bit. She says the most I'll get them to come down is another 10% but probably won't get that much. Also tells me we're dealing with the manager so, we'll get the best possible price. We go back and ask if they can do any better, they come down to $8900. We talk back and forth, my wife is still unsure and finally I say "can you do $8K, I think I can talk my wife into $8K". They go off, supposedly have to call NY (yeah, sure), my wife says to me "No, don't want to spend that much now", I tell them "never mind", but they quickly say "OK, $8K". We apologized and left. Later that afternoon, we see the shopping consultant again - she tells us she's been looking for us and the store is willing to give us an even better price (we didn't go back).

 

So the trusted shopping consultant tried to convince us the absolute best price was going to be $9K. We got them to $8K and apparently, they were ready to go even lower and they sent her out to find us.

 

The lesson: Don't trust the shopping consultants and make sure you keep pushing for a lower price. I got a 13.5K piece down to $8K and can't help but wonder how much further they would go.

 

I had a similar experience at the flea market in Cancun Mexico. I was looking at a $300 necklace and offered $150. We haggled for a bit but they would only come down to $250. A couple of hours later the jewelry store owner tracked me down in the flea market and said they would accept $150. It was too late by then because I had already spent all of my money :)

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In the age of the Internet, "not enough selection" isn't really a valid argument anymore.

 

That's a matter of personal preference. For me, fine jewelry purchases include an emotional component (e.g. "I love it"). I'm not going to get that online. It's great that it works for you and I am sure many others, but, that doesn't work for me.

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I had a similar experience at the flea market in Cancun Mexico. I was looking at a $300 necklace and offered $150. We haggled for a bit but they would only come down to $250. A couple of hours later the jewelry store owner tracked me down in the flea market and said they would accept $150. It was too late by then because I had already spent all of my money :)

 

 

 

I absolutely hate haggling. What I end up doing in Mexico is looking at the item I want; asking the price, then say ‘no’ and walk away. They start lowering the price and keep shaking my head until they get to the price that the item is worth to me (at least half price, sometimes 25% of the original price).

 

I agree with the others; in terms of jewelry and art - unless you are knowledgeable enough about the product to appraise it yourself, I wouldn’t pay more than the item is worth to you. As in, you like the item, are willing to pay x for the item. And if you get home and find out the item is ‘worthless’ you aren’t upset. You are paying for the enjoyment of the item as opposed to perceived value. Lying in stores in port and on the ship seems to be an epidemic; and it just takes a simple forum search to find out how hard it is to return these items.

 

 

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We were on a land vacation in Cancun years ago heading to the shopping mall when a local guy on the street told us not to go because it was a cruise ship day and all the prices were double the usual amount. We didn't believe this and went anyway but didn't buy. Went back the next day and sure enough every store had one big sign up "Today everything 50 percent off".

 

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You think? It’s bizarre to me anyone shops in these chain stores that exist in every port from the Caribbean to Alaska. Weird and strange business.

 

 

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No not always trinkets lol. We were vaguely thinking about a wedding ring to buy before our 2011 wedding. I watched the ship TV and decided at St Thomas stop we had to get something unique. Tanzanite International fit the bill! What we got

was appraised here at the same price we paid. :cool:

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Hmm, I wouldn't spend $8k on a piece of jewelry overseas unless I had done so much research that I would have known what to get down to, and even then would have been weary.

my thoughts exactly. As for the consultants being employed by a certain company, that isn't news to many of us. Of course they are going to claim this is our bottom line. that is their job, but OP thanks for letting us know your experience, hopefully it will help others. I think many of us have been taken aback by trying to deal on jewelry both on ships and in some of the ports.

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Although I do have a four year old granddaughter who loves the trinkets they give out for free at these stores. Am too risk averse to purchase an expensive piece outside the country.

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Many many years ago I worked in the Jewelry business, so I know a thing or two about quality and markups. That being said, the first time I walked into a DI store in the Caribbean I almost burst out laughing at their prices. :eek: :') I have to admit I did admire them for their chutzpah!

I think it was P.T. Barnum who said this about shopping in tourist traps -

"There's a sucker born every minute"

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i had a similar experience.

 

i went to DI in cozumel (the one right at the pier). that was the location where the consultant was working. i found a necklace i LOVED. price tag was $3750. I couldnt swing it. they came down to $3500 and i said no thanks.

 

we then walked the entire storefront of cozumel. At the second DI, i saw the same necklace, this time priced at $3000. they offered me $2500. i said no thanks.

 

we then hit the third DI. same necklace was around $2500. I said no thanks (at this point, we saw what was happening and knew there was a fourth DI).

 

We then proceeded to the fourth DI. at this one, the necklace was about $2100. Knowing this was the last stop, i said look, ive seen this necklace now four times today, price consistently dropping. I said if they would take $1500 cash id buy it right then and there.

 

they then did the usual dog and pony show with the calculator, "calls to the higher ups" and i walked out with the necklace for $1500.

 

Let me guess. Two weeks later you saw it in a mall at home for $999.

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DW just reminded me that on our first "modern era" cruise we went to the Port Talk as we were totally new to the cruising experience. It was quickly clear to us that we would learn nothing about shorexs and that the entire dog and pony show was a live infomercial for a select few retailers.

 

Several years ago, we were on a family group cruise. On of the "out-laws" was a jeweler who wanted to visit on of the big chain stores. He pulled out his loupe to examine a piece and was almost immediately told to put it away and leave.

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I always enjoy taking in the shore shopping seminars whenever I am aboard a ship. No, not for the valuable information, but for the entertainment value of seeing what new item they are pushing. Yes many are the same, but they do get a few new wrinkles from time to time.

 

One of my hobbies is making jewelry and I usually buy my stones direct from the cutters overseas, usually in Thailand or India, so I have a pretty good idea of value of the gemstones and the various settings they use. I will admit that I work more with colored stones than I do diamonds, as diamonds are much more difficult to grade for me; but when they push a cheap beryl such as helidor, then market it as yellow emerald, it really makes you suspect of any advice that you might receive from these shopping seminars. Most of the information they give you is just for the businesses that are paying the cruise line to be one of their recommended vendors in port.

 

I can relate to the one post about the friend who brought their loupe with them. One time I was at a Columbian Emerald store in Cartagena, when I asked the sales person if I could borrow a loupe to look at some loose stones. After I did that, she brought a loupe for me to use, and then whispers, here, let me get you some better stones to look at, and brings out a completely different tray of stones. It is still buyer beware, and please folks, take those shopping seminars with many grains of salt.

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Shopping consultants are like contractors. Some good and some not so good. Let the buyer beware.

 

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

 

The good ones are the ones no longer in the racket.

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Best is that they list this "activity" as a port and shopping talk. Very little information about what to do in port except shop [emoji52]

 

 

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One thing worth remembering however, is that they make a LOT of money from cruise passengers, and the last thing the store wants to do is upset one.

 

I bought a "white & blue diamond" white gold ring ON BOARD the ship. I didn't want to travel with the receipt, so they agreed to mail it to me at home, along with the appraisal which they didn't have at the time (red flag!).

 

When the appraisal finally arrived, some 6 - 7 months later, it described the "blue diamonds" as rare white diamonds which were subsequently tinted. I seethed and seethed for another couple of months, thinking I'd been ripped off. Then I decided to do something about it.

 

I wrote a calm letter, discussed what the salesperson had "sold" me, and explained how disappointed I was in the difference with what I seemed to have ACTUALLY purchased.

 

Long story short (oops...too late!), returned the ring, and received a full refund - even though I'd had & worn it for nearly 9 months.

 

 

Stephen

 

.

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Agree that it would be nice if they gave a real port and shopping lecture, about popular places to go, and little known places that were worth the time to go, but unfortunately, that is an extreme rarity on a cruise. As said, they only promote what they are paid to promote, and little else....

On the other hand, these folks have been there often, and usually do have some good knowledge....the trick is to get them aside after the presentation, and quietly ask about other things of interest.

 

As for making purchases....I do not wear or buy any kind of jewelry, and have no knowledge in that field...however, I am an avid watch lover, and do a lot of research on fine watches, which are much easier to appraise than jewelry....

I have purchased a nice Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Chrono, at "Little Switzerland" at Havensight Mall in St. Thomas, and outside of some questionable 'gray market' offers on the internet, haven't found a better price at any authorized Omega dealer, anywhere...

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Everything........EVERYTHING on a cruise is more expensive than on land and it comes with more risk. The art shows and jewelry buys are nice but extremely over priced for the quality. This is not new. If you google the dealers the cruise lines go with, you will see the lawsuits and the shady dealings.

For those that swear they got a good deal on a ship, no need to flame me. Good for you if you believe you got a good deal.

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On my first cruise in 1988, I fell for the jewelry sales talks and decided I would buy something in Saint Thomas. The DI stores were well over my then budget. I knew very little about jewelry other than gold or your basic diamond ratings. A jeweler in a small store told me that a much better investment than the 7 carat London blue topaz at $10 per carat I was purchasing would be to buy a one carat beautiful deep purple stone for $75 per carat. - should have listened - the stone was tanzanite! Paid much much more for tanzanite years later. But it was the 1980s and bigger was better -not! Still love the London blue ring and our local jeweler said it is a good stone and was fair priced. Lesson learned - education before impulsive purchases!

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Last time we attended one of these hosted presentation on a cruise ship was like 15 years ago ...

 

The joke for us is when we see DI and Del Sol, etc. is signal to make a 90 degree turn and/or a turnaround to head the opposite direction. If anyone is lost finding their way back to the ship, odds are that the shopping consultant will be in the store "assisting" anyone & everyone for the prize drawings.

 

It was amusing - quite a few years ago - to see them in Alaska ports literally across the street from the piers ... too bad, they couldn't say it was duty-free shopping. Now, if they offer free WiFi ... it should attract more foot traffic to match their giveaway ;p

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I have to say that this is one of the more entertaining threads I have followed in awhile. As I indicated earlier I have never bought jewelry on a cruise. However, I know people who cruise regularly and part of their routine is to pick up a piece. of jewelry. Never figured it out but it is their tradition. I also don't think they are worried about over paying as their experience is more important than the value.

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I've learned over the past few years that the onboard shopping "consultants" are actually funded by the big stores (e.g. Diamonds International, Cariloha, etc) and to take their "recommendations" very lightly because they are only recommending the stores that pay them.

 

Unfortunately, my experiences on a recent NLC cruise hit a new low with them recently.

 

We were looking at a piece with a $13.5K price. I asked for their "best price" and they came back with $10K. We're thinking about it, wandering around a bit and the shopping consultant approaches us and we chat a bit. She says the most I'll get them to come down is another 10% but probably won't get that much. Also tells me we're dealing with the manager so, we'll get the best possible price. We go back and ask if they can do any better, they come down to $8900. We talk back and forth, my wife is still unsure and finally I say "can you do $8K, I think I can talk my wife into $8K". They go off, supposedly have to call NY (yeah, sure), my wife says to me "No, don't want to spend that much now", I tell them "never mind", but they quickly say "OK, $8K". We apologized and left. Later that afternoon, we see the shopping consultant again - she tells us she's been looking for us and the store is willing to give us an even better price (we didn't go back).

 

So the trusted shopping consultant tried to convince us the absolute best price was going to be $9K. We got them to $8K and apparently, they were ready to go even lower and they sent her out to find us.

 

The lesson: Don't trust the shopping consultants and make sure you keep pushing for a lower price. I got a 13.5K piece down to $8K and can't help but wonder how much further they would go.

That practice is well know.

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