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Trusted?

It takes a certain level of confidence for folks to send me their watches.  Often, almost always, these items are family heirlooms of great value to their owners.  Yet they pack them up, and ship them off, across the country and even across the world, to someone they have only exchanged a few emails with.  Remarkable, really...

Now and then a prospective customer wants to call me on the phone before taking such a leap.  That's understandable and for that reason I include my complete contact information in my initial email contact with watch owners.  But what does this really prove?  Not a lot.  Sometimes they have specific questions, but they almost always say something like "well, I just wanted to hear a voice at the other end."

I hadn't really given it much thought until once when someone said something like that, then added "I guess that really doesn't mean much though."

No, it really doesn't, come to think of it.

I have extensive websites, including blogs that show watches that I have handled, going back years.  If it's conceivable that I have created this internet presence as a trap to get that next watch and flee the country, then what does hearing my voice prove?

As I say, I include my complete contact information in initial emails for customers.  They're quite welcome to call me on the phone if that helps.  They can also look up my address on Google Street View.  With this information, they have my name, address, phone number, and there are photos of me online too.  If I'm stealing watches, I'm doing a pretty poor job of hiding from authorities.

I wonder do folks have suspicions about brick and mortar businesses?  I have heard quite a few stories of bad experiences with watchmakers that customers have dealt with in person.  For example, one customer told me that a shop had totally replaced his movement without consulting him.  In another case, the extra rare type of hands on a watch had been replaced with a more common style and the victim had been unable to get the hands back.  These are just a couple of stories I've been told in the past few weeks, about physical shops - I've heard many stories like this.  I have no doubt that the vast, overwhelming majority of shops operate with a high degree of professionalism.  But does a physical shop, locally, lead to complete confidence?   Should it?

And yet, not too long ago, a prospective customer, after several exchanges, questions and answers, wrote in an email a final, simple, question, "how can I trust you?"

I don't really know what to say to this.  So I pointed out all these things.  I responded that he was welcome to speak to me on the phone, as others do.  But this does not prove I can be trusted.  I can also put a customer in contact with past customers.  But that could all be faked as well.  I do not have a store front that a customer can walk into, but having one doesn't actually prove anything either.  I don't see anything I can do.

If you send me a watch, and I disappear with it, you can phone the local police.  You'll have my name, address, phone number, and what I look like.  They'll have no trouble finding me.

But the advice I'd really like to put out there is this; if something like sending your watch off to be repaired is going to keep you awake at night then by all means do not do it.  Seriously, it's not worth it, and frankly I'm not going to try to convince anyone otherwise.
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