Henrico woman in dispute with store over missing jewelry

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico woman and Fink's Jewelers are at a stalemate after she claims some pieces went missing.

Twice in one month, Maxine Lambert gathered up jewelry for cleaning, put them in a bag and drove to Fink's Jewelers in Short Pump for a free cleaning service. She says she took 29 pieces on her last trip, but she says she didn't discover she left the store with 27 pieces until two weeks later.

"Those pieces that are missing I don't normally wear too frequently," Lambert said. "It's a David Urman gold rope ring with a diamond x across the top, and a drop stone turquoise gold earring."

The company vice-president says Maxine left happy then called later to accuse them of theft. Mark Bair says the company investigated and he even called police. There was nothing they could do. Bair says his employee counted the jewelry he returned in front of Lambert as he put them in different bags.

"He did not count the jewelry. Had he said, 'Maxine I'm taking 29 pieces of jewelry and I'm giving back 29' we wouldn't be here today. That did not happen," said Lambert.

Jewelers say it's common not to give a claim ticket for a cleaning, if the customer has a few pieces and waits in the store, but with numerous pieces they said they would give the customer a receipt and tell them to pick up their jewelry later.

No documentation muddies the argument for both says Attorney John Gayle with the Consumer Law Group PC.

"A judge or jury could rule in her favor if they chose to believe her. The problem is it's a swearing match between her and the jewelry store. Since she's the one who has to bring the lawsuit, she has the burden of proving the case.  If it's 50-50, and the judge, doesn't know who to believe, the plaintiff will lose," Gayle said.

Fink's confirmed a 15-year business relationship and Lambert showed paperwork indicating more than $40,000 she's spent at the store over the years.

"I think this is the end of our relationship, making me feel as though I am the culprit," Lambert added.

Finks did offer Lambert $1,150, half of the value of the two pieces in question, but it's not an admission of liability.

Lambert filed a police report and is talking with her insurance company. The take away here: take pictures of your own items, and have the business acknowledge your receipt.

Finks released this statement: Since 1930, Fink's Jewelers has been a family-owned business with what we believe is unparalleled customer service.  We currently operate 14 stores in 11 cities throughout Virginia and North Carolina. In our memory, we have never had an issue similar to this. When we were advised of our customer's alleged concern, we took it seriously and we immediately conducted what we believe is a thorough internal investigation.  We could find no evidence of wrong doing.  To be certain, we also independently called the proper authorities and they concurred with this conclusion, stating they would not investigate the matter further.  We value our customers and we will continue to strive to provide the best service possible..

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