October 14, 2007, my wife and I departed with our two closest friends, Jeff and Sherry Walters, on a five day cruise aboard the MSS Celebration from Jacksonville, Fl to Key West and the Bahamas returning on October 20, 2007. I am self employed and this was the longest vacation I have taken in 20 Years and I was very much looking forward to the relaxing trip. We had to fly her mother and grandmother in to Charleston SC from Ohio as sitters for our 7 and 10 year old daughters.
We had been shopping for a ring to replace her engagement ring for the past several months as a second anniversary present from me. Many times throughout the cruise, we had visited the on-board jewelry shop dealing with shop personnel Sally Wright and had narrowed our selection down to one ring, a 1.5 ct three stone ring valued at $7,257.98 on sale for $4,398.76. As we shopped at on-shore jewelry stores, we had a better feeling about purchasing our ring on the ship as apposed to an off-ship company. We did feel that the retail price of the ring of $7257.93 was inline with the prices of the off-ship shops. My wife is also self employed in price negotiations for builders in the greater Charleston area and had been assured by the shop staff that she was getting the best possible deal available for this quality of a diamond. They would not come down any lower on the price.
On the final evening of the cruise, my wife proceeded to the shop about 11:00 pm and the shop was already closed, but the sales staff was still inside and they let her in to purchase the ring. When she returned with the ring, the joy on her face was possibly as happy as I have seen her in our two years of marriage. She was very proud of her ring and was showing it to Jeff and Sherry and some of our new friends in the Casino, Casino hostess Nicol Storjohann and her significant other Andrew, who is the assistant manager of the Casino.
As we departed the ship on Saturday, October 20, 2007, we both agreed that this had been a wonderful vacation and we agreed that we would take another cruise, possibly within the next year. We had spent over $8,000.00 for this trip and over $7,000.00 of it was onboard the ship and still felt like it was worth it. The staff and service on the ship had been excellent, possibly as fine as I have ever experienced. It had exceeded my expectations. We had purchased over $500.00 of photos taken by the ship as permanent memories of our wonderful trip.
On Sunday, October 21, 2007, our family went shopping and we decided to have the ring appraised for insurance purposes. The ring did not leave our sight during this entire process. We went to Zales Jewelry and the sales person at first thought that is was visually an exceptional set of stones. She compared it with other rings in the $8,000.00 range. As she proceeded to test with a heat tester, the look on her faced was very disturbing to my wife and me. She tested the machine on her ring as well as my wife's wedding set and it tested positive for diamonds. The look on my wifes face was sickening. We could not believe that this was true, so we went to Kay Jewelers and the store manager tested and came up with the same conclusion.
He commented that it was an exceptional knockoff; however it was not a diamond. I am now in a position that I will need to spend $7,000.00 - $8,000.00 to replace this ring or ask my wife to settle for less. Neither option is acceptable.
Sunday afternoon was almost unbearable. My wife was physically sick to her stomach and Sunday evening was a night with little rest for both of us. Wonderful memories of our fabulous vacation have been erased or tarnished by this terrible deception and fraud. The pain and suffering this has caused my wife and I is truly indescribable. Until this matter is resolved, life in my household will be less than pleasurable. I have decided that I would not return the ring to Starboard's corporate office in Miami until this entire matter is resolved to my satisfaction as it is the only proof that I have of this terrible incident.
Summery of Events:
October 22, 2007 Letter sent out to:
Complaint Department Starboard Cruise Services, Inc. 8034 N.W. 14th Street Miami, FL 33126
L. Thompson Jewelers of America 52 Vanderbilt Ave. 19th Fl. New York, NY 10017
Joseph Benedetto Moet Hennessy USA 85th Tenth Ave. New York, NY 10011
Guest Relations Carnival Cruise Lines 3655 NW 87th Ave. Miami, FL 33178
October 22, 2007 Only Jewelers of America responded, L. Thompson.
October 23, 2007 Received E-mail from VP of Jewelers of America
October 24, 2007 No Communication
October 25, 2007 10:00am called Starboard Cruise Services 800-540-4785 asked for Cyndi Cayson (her name was given to us as a contact from Jewelers of America). I was told that there is no such person in their directory and was then referred to Monica Jones. Monica new nothing of this matter, I explained what happened. She asked for the SKU # of the ring. I asked her if they sold cubic zirconia and she responded no. She told me to send the ring back for a refund. I explained that I would not do so until this matter was resolved to my satisfaction. She told me that the email that I had sent on Monday had been received, however, not opened yet. She stated it could take 24-48 hours before they open it, then noticing it had been longer than that, she stated could take up to 72 hours. She asked me to resend the information to the email address on the Certificate of Authenticity, which we did.
10:10am left a message for David Lafleur regarding Cyndi Cayson
12:30pm went and had ring appraised at Sohn & McClure Jewelers, Charleston SC.
1:38pm received e-mail from VP Jewelers of America, David Lafleur
October 27, 2007 No Communication
October 28, 2007 - No Communication
October 29, 2007 Authorization from Starboard Cruise Services fell off our bank account.
Left message for the Customer Service Manager, Jose Ramos that I was extremely upset that no one from Starboard Cruise Services has contacted us and we expect to hear back from him today.
October 30, 2007 Called into Carnival and can not remember the customer service lady I spoke with, however she continued to state that they have nothing to do with the vendors upon their ship, and any complaints would need to be taken up with that company, not them.
Jose Ramos called our home at approximately 8:15am. He wanted us to fill out a return form online and send ring back by FED-EX. He will then put a request to reverse charged on the account for the price of the ring; however, until he has the ring back he will do nothing. He offered to replace the ring and give us a 10% discount. I said I was not interested. I stated I would think about sending the ring back and get back to him. He offered to send me an email stating his intentions. In addition he also stated that they do not sell cubic zirconia. As of today 11-1-2007 we have received no email from him.
October 31, 2007 No Communications
November 1, 2007 Sought legal council Grover Seation, III Spoke with Frank with the Charleston FBI and gave a statement to him. No communication with anyone else.
IF YOU BUY A DIAMOND FROM THIS COMPANY MAKE SURE IT IS A DIAMOND. BETTER YET BUY FROM SOMEONE ELSE! AS FAR AS CARNIVAL THEY DO NOT WARN THEIR CUSTOMERS ABOUT THE FRAUD ACTIVIES THAT GO ONBOARD! CRUISE WITH SOMEONE ELSE!
Summerville, South Carolina
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