WSVN — Her store policy is clear — no refunds, no exchanges — but when one customer was told she could not exchange a hair comb she went online to, put it politely, express her opinion. Can you do what the customer did? It’s why the store owner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

It’s called Twinkle Twinkle, a Coral Gables store that sells costume jewelry, mainly for wedding parties.

Alicia Gordon: “And I enjoy working with people and it’s a wonderful time to share with brides because it’s incredibly emotional, incredibly happy.”

Of course, it’s South Florida, so once in a while, a customer is not happy.

Alicia Gordon: “She purchased the piece with her mother, Her mother paid for it.”

The bride-to-be picked out this $190 hair comb, 30 days later, her mother called and asked to exchange it.

Alicia Gordon: “At which time, we had to explain to her that it is very clear on our policy that it was not returnable or exchangeable.”

Alicia says she had to create the policy because a few brides tried to return their jewelry after their wedding. And she makes the policy obvious with five signs around the store reading, “All sales are final, no refunds, no exchanges.” It’s even on the receipt you get, but the woman was not giving up.

Alicia Gordon: “Then 90 days later, making it 120 days after the purchase, the young lady came in with her mother-in-law demanding an exchange again, but this time was a little more aggressive.”

When the manager wouldn’t exchange the jewelry, the customer asked her to call Alicia. On the phone, Alicia says the woman told her she was an attorney.

Alicia Gordon: “She knew the law, and that she would destroy our reputation online by posting all the reviews that she could saying how terrible and uncooperative we were.”

Alicia took that as a threat. On camera you can hear the woman respond. “How is that a threat? I am telling you what I can do.”

And then….

Alicia Gordon: “She destroyed me online.”

The customer filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and posted reviews on three websites writing, ‘Alicia is completely unprofessional, and I would not recommend Twinkle Twinkle to my enemy.’ After four months went by, the woman claims the store manager told her she could have exchanged the jewelry, if she had brought it back within 30 days.

Patrick Fraser: “The things she posted. We’re they true?”

Alicia Gordon: “No.”

A person claiming to be the customer’s fiancee posted a review under his name writing, ‘I was there to witness it all.’

Alicia Gordon: “Who had never been in our store, so I don’t know how he had recollection of anything and claims to have been here.”

Alicia gave up responding to the reviews and filed a complaint with the Florida Bar against the attorney for her Internet postings.

Alicia Gordon: “She is an attorney. She understands that the receipt is an agreement and signing it is an agreement to those terms.”

Well, Howard, can an unhappy customer post negative things about a business?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, the customer can post her opinion online because it’s just her opinion. However, the comments have to be true. Otherwise, it’s what the law calls libel, and you could be sued for any damage your comments cause to their business.”

I spoke to Michelle Ruiz, the attorney who had been Alicia’s customer. She told me that she didn’t know the store didn’t allow refunds and exchanges. She said Alicia was condescending to her when they spoke on the phone, and that she was not threatening Alicia when she told her she was an attorney, just letting her know she understands law and policies. She also said the post from her fiance’s account was actually written by his mother, who was in the store that day.

Howard Finkelstein: “A lawyer must be more careful than a non-lawyer, because if the bar concludes a lawyer misrepresented the law, they can fine or punish the attorney, but this incident probably doesn’t rise to that level.”

The two women are not talking to each other, but if they were, Alicia would say one thing to Michelle.

Alicia Gordon: “And what you should do is look inward a little bit because this should be the happiest time in your life, and you are creating a lot of negativity.”

Patrick Fraser: “Now a store can have a ‘no refund, no exchange’ policy if they post it in a conspicuous place. Alicia put up five signs so there is no doubt she followed the law. Also, the customer filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. A spokesman told me they closed the complaint because they concluded the jewelry store clearly posted signs that there were no exchanges or refunds.”

Ready to exchange a problem for a solution? Contact us. We don’t post our policy, but it’s a real jewel. We try to help everyone. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

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