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#1 Frances Yates

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 07:43 PM

On January 21, 2010 my husband and I were on a day excursion visiting the island of Cozumel. We were invited into a shop on the main street exiting from the Carnival cruise ship, named Caribbean Dreams. My husband purchased a pendant which was sold to us as Tanzanite/diamond and a Tanzanite / diamond ring for a total of $1200.oo US. Upon our return to the states, I brought the jewelry to a local jeweler who told me the diamonds were fake and that he believed the blue stones were NOT Tanzanite. I have contacted Visa, who is disputing the sale but need a correct address and phone number for Caribbean Dream. Also PROFECO has been contacted and we intend to obtain an official appraisal and verification that the jewelry is indeed fake no later than this week. Can someone living on the island please verify the correct address and phone number for this establishment.? I appreciate any help or suggestions anyone can give us.

Thanks.
Fran Yates
FYates5683@aol.com
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#2 divadiver

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 11:15 PM

Mrs. Yates,

There are 50 or more jewelry stores on the island. The name you mention is not familiar to me. It would be very helpful if you could give us some point of reference for the location. Is it on the waterfront, off the main square, on a back street. Some sort of description would be helpful, too. Did they primarily sell silver jewelry, where there other items for sale besides jewelry.

If this is the name on the receipt from the purchase, it may not be the name on the storefront.

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#3 Charles

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:32 AM

I believe this store was located between calle 5 & calle 7 on Melgar. That's the block that many stores change with regularity.

First question: What was the metal, silver or gold and is it stamped?
It can be tricky to quickly get an authoritative appraisal and verify that the stones are fake or genuine.

The most common fraud in tanzanite is with the silver with accent plastic opal inlay, sparkle stones and purple glass as a center stone. This stuff is all from China and typically violates the law as the silver is not marked nor is the country or origin as required by law. These are nice imitation pieces if you like the look, but fair retail price would be around $35-$50 dollars for the pieces as described. When this stuff is sold as gold with authentic stones, people will often pay thousands, the record I have heard was $13,000 for a piece that you probably could have bought at the Silver Emporium for less than $100, sold as silver with imitation stones.

It is real hard to get an official address much less a phone number, even with honest businesses that never commit fraud.

Easiest fraud to verify and prove is with regard to the metal is if is sold as gold, but is actually silver and then if the metal is not marked, stamped .925 or 14K (silver or gold), that becomes a violation worthy of validating a complaint with PROFECO.

Good luck. I have looked for a sign in the suspected area and didn't see one, but it could have been one of a couple stores that had already closed their shutters for the night that day around 4:00PM
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#4 horngirl

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:43 PM

I also just purchased a tanzanite ring from this store, and an questioning it's authenticity. I bought it the last week of January. It's a 1 carat set in 14kt white gold. The gold is not stamped, and I don't think the stone is as blue as it should be. I have not gotten it looked at yet.

According to my receipt, it is store No. 45 on Rafael E. Melgar Ave; between calle 5 and 7, like Charles said. It faces the street, and is the store on the right just under the Hotel Vista Del Mar.

I started questioning the ring before I bought it when it started out at $800 and they were easily talked down. I bought it for only $200 so I'm not out that much. (My husband doesn't understand jewelry. He thought it was pretty and a great price, so he pressured me into buying. He didn't understand why I was hesitant. I'm hoping it's real gold with a ceylon sapphire; maybe then I can justify $200 for the ring.)
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#5 Coz2wonder

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:18 PM

Perhaps Fran can post the information for PROFECO.

Prior to the crash of CMC, I was able to pull up a post by Carey in regards to all the contact information to file a complaint with PROFECO (our consumer protection agency).

Regardless of the investment, you should get exactly what you paid for...That means no fakes.
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The most important thing in life is not knowing everything, it's having the phone number of somebody who does!

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#6 Charles

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:31 PM

PROFECO websites, Fran has started the complaint process, for future reference....

http://www.profeco.gob.mx/english.htm

http://www.profeco.g...f_3i_quejas.htm

In jewelry situations, it seems PROFECO will rarely take any proactive investigations, only respond to specific complaints. They used to do surprise inspections downtown and check for alpaca and assorted silver plated items. They never seem to touch the waterfront unless it was possibly politically motivated. They used to harass DI periodically for not having prices on the items in pesos which are not required in tourist zones (you can mark prices in dollars and post exchange rate). DI would put additional tags with some ridiculous price in pesos sufficient to cover prices if the peso should devalue overnight to 50 to 1. They have never "raided" any of the handful of places that are known to sell fake gems or counterfeit knock offs on trade mark protected products. I believe it was Mike that had a good suggestion: why not go to PROFECO to file a complaint and go with a reporter who might get an interview of why they won't touch these places.

Investigating this year's new requirement that businesses that sell products by weight must travel to the mainland to get their scales certified. The approximate cost of $500 pesos for the trip and certification is hitting small businesses that are struggling at best to compete against the corporate giants. Besides the cost of the trip, they lose a day of business from the scales being gone. In talking with the small family run fruit and vegetable stands in the neighborhood and the merchants at the mercado. The ones that were comfortable admitting it, all said it was politically motivated in action against the various unions involved.

PROFECO will respond to specific complaints (at least most), but seems to have little interest in taking any preventative action. There is jewelry in small shops all over town that is made in China, it is cute, cheap, junk jewelry, nice for kids and young girls to buy, pretty colored glass crystals, but legally it should be stamped if silver and it should be labeled with the country of origin. Most of the junk fake jewelry sold here is all made in China. China has long been the source of numerous pirated items with no respect to copyrights, trademarks etc. They are a pirate nation that has managed to conquer and destroy most of the manufacturing in most countries. Since sterling silver is 92.5% silver, what does China use as alloy materials for the other 7 1/2% metal. Gee, what a wonderful possible way of disposing of toxic wastes. There are allegations of China using toxic metal as a plating in jewelry. Given the history of quality control in manufacturing pet food, baby formula, lead paint in toys, I question the wisdom of buying Chinese made goods. I certainly can't have confidence in their production of pharmaceutical products. Some people question buying prescription drugs made in Mexico that are not FDA inspected.

PROFECO will punish and fine merchants caught committing fraud, but many of these situations are deliberate acts and merit criminal prosecution. If people faced going to jail besides the a monetary fine, that might reduce a lot of fraud. China will execute heads of companies that cause embarrassment when they get caught using toxic materials that poison children and dogs. In both situations the punishment is not for the act, it is getting caught at it. The various governments involved don't give a damn about the consumer, they bow to the wishes of whomever holds the mortgages on their lives.
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#7 nauticab

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 10:48 PM

I also just purchased a tanzanite ring from this store, and an questioning it's authenticity. I bought it the last week of January. It's a 1 carat set in 14kt white gold. The gold is not stamped, and I don't think the stone is as blue as it should be. I have not gotten it looked at yet.

According to my receipt, it is store No. 45 on Rafael E. Melgar Ave; between calle 5 and 7, like Charles said. It faces the street, and is the store on the right just under the Hotel Vista Del Mar.


fyi, a few weeks ago, the store on melgar as described above closed and lapiz closed their bigger store to this small local. i have a feeling the bad dealer store is the one that is now closed. lapiz is big and corporate and pretty legit. i could be wrong, but thought i'd put that bug out there.
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Cabrilla's Sport Center
Calle 11 % Melgar y 10av
Edificio Portales, Local 1
Dressing Fishermen and Triathletes from Head to Toe

#8 Charles

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:29 PM

Nauticab, that is a strong possibility. I looked for the store when Fran first posted, but later in the afternoon when some were already closed. I know that Lapiz is expanding their number of locations and getting into the jewelry market more strongly here. They used to just do rugs here, but in Playa they had rugs and jewelry. It seems that some of these places don't last long enough to even get proper signs.

Personally I'd be extra cautious about any location that used to be Goodmark or operated by Diamond Port. Besides their own history, they don't have a good track record in people that subleased their former locations.

Who Knew? How many times has that corner store across from the ferry pier changed hands? Who Knew?.....Who Knows? would be a better name.
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#9 nauticab

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:43 AM

actually, the bigger lapiz store further north closed down (very low sales) to move to a smaller local and are renting offices for their office folks. many of the jewelry stores aren't doing much lately. crazy stuff going on.

could this be a sign that cozumel might, just might, maybe and cross your fingers, become the cozumel of the past???? an actual diving mecca? doubt it. but maybe less jewelry stores. who knows.
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Cabrilla's Sport Center
Calle 11 % Melgar y 10av
Edificio Portales, Local 1
Dressing Fishermen and Triathletes from Head to Toe

#10 divadiver

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 11:24 AM

I think we can forget about Profeco ever being proactive with the jewelry business. They don't have the staff and it's unlikely they'll ever employ a gemologist. Do they actually have any prosecutorial authority?

I think the store that's Who Knew? could be a DI offshoot. Who the hell came up with that name? My thinking is who knew they were selling fakes, surely not the employees.jajaja

Nauticab, we can only hope that Cozumel will return to the days of old. What will happen to all of the shops that sprung up when the cruise industry made it's presence know?
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#11 Charles

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 01:39 PM

PROFECO can seize merchandise, confiscate and levy huge fines. True it requires a certified gemologist to prove fake gems, but about 95% of the fakes are not marked as to metal nor country of origin. Since there are only a few places with consistent repeated complaints, it wouldn't be that hard to hit the couple worse offenders.

No, many of the employees have no idea what they are selling, some do, some store managers don't know, but the owner surely does. They just try to sell what they are told to sell and told what it is supposed to be.

Who Knew? is not related to DI. They occupy the space controlled by Ezra Gad, owner of Diamond Port and various other named stores. He has long been the mortal enemy of DI. Since he has stopped doing business, he has rented the space to a parade of people. many not lasting more than a few months. How long did the Red Door restaurant upstairs on the waterfront stay in business and take a look at that history of the location.

PROFECO sure takes proactive, preventative action against all the small businesses on the island. They may process a complaint, but it is like they fear to set foot on the malecon as well as stay out of the entire pedestrian area. Since the few honest jewelers are hurt by the bad ones, they too have tried to apply pressure to the officials to do something about the situation that is widely known. It hurts the reputation of any honest jewelers and it reflects badly and hurts the reputation of the island.

It appears that PROFECO is a fraction of what they once was and fall under more political influence and pressure to look the other way.

The complaint that I happened to handle which the lady did get her $1700 dollars refunded. She bought a ring her on a cruise. Her friend liked it so much that she went down to a local jeweler and bought a similar, but obviously better looking one for $350. The friend's accent diamonds were real. She returned to the island on another cruise and tried to get her money back three weeks later. The store just ignored her. This was years ago and might have been the same space as Caribbean Dreams or real close. She and her friend left the store upset and got into a taxi. The taxi driver drove them to the mercado and said to walk up those stairs. The ladies walked in not speaking a word of Spanish while I was talking with Lic. Darwin. I heard their story, translated and then pulled out my 10X magnifying glass and checked the ring. I told the lawyer, it feels like gold, the stones all look bad to suspicious at best, I am not a certified gemologist, but it doesn't take an expert to see that the gold ring is not marked 14K. That is all it took. Darwin picked up the phone and talked to the manager asking if it wanted to settle it today or go through the process? He must have run stop signs getting there so fast. First off he gave the lady a gift of free gold earrings that were real, stamped, retail value of between $250-350. He did not want PROFECO TO KEEP THAT RING! He promised a full refund of the money paid and the earrings were a gift of compensation for her trouble.

I warned the lady it would take longer than the promised week to ten days for the refund, they would have to have the money in the bank to cover the refund, but she did get 100% refund about two months later. Again about 95% of the fakes violate various laws. They are imported as costume jewelry which reflects their actual value and customs lets them pass. About 98% of the stuff made in China is junk.

Much of the named brand jewelry is now made in China. Kabana for one. The world's most exactly, perfectly cut diamond that is marketed under different brand names, perfectly cut diamonds to the most exacting standards using diamond polishing wheels made by Rolls Royce, their factory is in China too!

Can one ever have too many jewelry stores? Besides diving, don't most people vacation to buy jewelry? Since they wiped out all the mom and pop stores, consolidated smaller stores into larger ones and drove the rent up and now the whole jewelry industry has been in decline for years as Walmart, Costco take a larger and larger market share of retail sales of diamond jewelry. My Alaskan town sold out to the wave of jewelry stores. They tore down historic places to build newer and bigger jewelry stores. They drove the local family run businesses out of town. It seemed like a good idea as the city collects a sales tax, supposedly and diamond sales would bring more tax revenue than ivory carvers or water color artists. Now that dozens of jewelry stores have gone out of business and prime retail space sits vacant (just like here), it tuns out they were getting more sales tax revenue from the combined artists and family run businesses than they get from empty space.

Many people like to buy small artifacts and keep sakes to remind them of their trip. For an Alaskan souvenir, would you prefer something made in China, Bali or Indonesia? Surely you didn't expect to get something made in Alaska, Canada or even Siberia Russia which has a common cultural heritage of the First Nation people. I can count on one hand the number of stores that sell mostly Alaskan products in the same way I can count the stores here that sell Mexican products.
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#12 Frances Yates

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:22 PM

The store was on the waterfront, our receipt says Caribbean Dream, but above that is written Santander..then it has Av. Rafael M NO 45 E 5 Y7 Sur, Cozumel Qroo 7028596. The store had jewelry of all types, including Mysic Topaz, pearls etc. The ring and necklace were set in 14 K gold, and the manager (Manuel or Miquel) gave me a chain . I have gone for an official apraisal , but have already been told by two other jewelers that the diamonds on the ring/Tanzanite are not real. They will be preparing an official appraisal as proof. To date, I have not received any confirmation from PROFEC , since I filled out there form and emailed it to them.
Thanks for any help.
Fran Yates
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#13 Frances Yates

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:35 PM

Thank you and all the others for your help and concern. We still await some reply or confirmation from PROFECO. We are trying to verify address/telephone number so that the fake merchandise can be sent back. I filled out on line the form for PROFEC , listed my email and phone number in hopes of being contacted by someone.. An official appraisal should be in my hands ($115.00) within the week. I don't know what else we can do.
fran
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#14 Frances Yates

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 05:14 PM

We certainly hope we don't have to make another trip to Cozumel to get this issue resolved. It would seem once proof by a certified gemologist is received stating that the ring and pendant are not real diamonds nor the blue stone Tanzanite, that would be enough. Visa asked had I mailed the jewelry back, but someone said not to mail it back yet. thanks.
fran yates
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#15 Charles

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 06:27 PM

You can't mail stuff back. The last issue was resolved I believe through Diva Diver had them sent to her when she was in the States and she brought them back. People will help make it happen. Stick with it!
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#16 Frances Yates

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 11:18 AM

Charles,
Thanks for ;your help and suggestion, but why would Visa suggest and ask had we sent the jewelry back to the merchant? I am simply trying to expedite and satisfy Visa so that they do not pay the merchant and then expect me to pay them. It will be approximately a week before I get the hard copy of the appraisal, which we intend to fax to Visa and hopefully PROFECO. PROFECO to date has not givben us a physical address to send paperwork nor have they acknowledged receipt of the form (completed) that we sent. I realize things are much slower, but VISA expects us to do things quite promptly.

Thanks again.
Fran
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#17 Frances Yates

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 11:51 AM

So what do you intend to do to verify that the jewelry you bought is fake....better still what can you do to get your money back? We always had such wonderful times and memories in Cozumel during the years we were young enough and physically able to scuba dive...this is when Ernesto was downtown, open to the street looking right at the water and seems there was a beautiful hotel right there where one or all could snorkel.. Twenty years later, neither the hotel or the old Ernesto's is there.. We did however find Ernesto's closer to the ship area, but not with the ambience like before. Anyway keep me posted with your progress and outcome. What a wonderful group of people willing to help and encourage others.

Fran
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#18 Charles

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 01:25 PM

Fran,

When you talk with Visa, insist on speaking with a supervisor, someone higher up the food chain in authority. When it comes to shipping things to Mexico, it simply is not a realistic possibility. Mexico probably qualifies as one of the most restrictive and mindless of third world countries in dealing with shipping and receiving merchandise.

Besides being expensive on your end to send, the items would likely be stuck at Mexican customs and could not progress on toward Cozumel unless all taxes and duty was paid as if this was merchandise being imported to be sold retail. Customs taxes and duty could well run into the hundreds of dollars. Then you would be faced with paying the same shipping charges to have the merchandise returned. If and a giant if you could ship directly to the store, chances are they would refuse delivery and again you would be faced with paying the return postage.

It is common courtesy for locals to bring down items from the States and the same for bringing back letters to be mailed as there is no other means of doing it. It might well be far easier and reliable (faster too) to be shipping items to and from India. When you reach that point, someone can be found to bring the items down and manage to get them in the hands of PROFECO.

Yes, things have changed a bit in the last 20 years. Bits and pieces and some of the old people still exist. Ernesto's was among the first to go when their lease was up and the space became swallowed by a jewelry store. Ernesto has done well, he still has the small location you saw by the pier, but he has the restaurant La Veranda downtown for night time dining. Besides the reputation for quality food, La Veranda is often receommended for their ambiance and romantic setting. Ernesto invested well when business was good and compared to many from those days, is very comfortable, not rich, but securely comfortable. It is disgraceful the changes in downtown from those years. Gone are the small family owned businesses. Actual Mexican made souvenirs of any quality are hard to find. The waterfront is dominated by jewelry stores (most honest ones losing money big time) and much of the merchandise for sale is imported from China or some country you probably couldn't quickly point to on a map.

For an outcome, if Visa will remove the charges and you kept the merchandise....if that is even possible, you'd be out more than the items were worth, but if you like the look of what you thought you were getting and the metal is actually 14K gold, the portion you paid in cash and your other expenses might only be 50% above what might be a fair market value somewhere. Visa bears some responsibility as they authorized this company which may well be no longer in business. If I remember correctly you were charged $800 plus on visa and paid $300 plus in cash, plus your additional charges and costs. It sounds like what you have might be worth in the $250-$350 range depending on the weight of the gold. Keep us posted and be persistent with PROFECO, write them again and ask why you have received no reply. good luck
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#19 Guest_pecosgirl_*

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 02:01 PM

DeaR fRAN, iT'S mEXICO...HELLO! i am sorry for your misfoutune but honestly don't think you'll come out on the winning end. But I will be interested to know what happens.
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#20 divadiver

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 02:19 PM

Fran,

DO NOT mail the merchandise. There are always people coming and going that will probably be more than happy to bring it down. I did that for a lady from Alabama, last year. I have friends coming in March that would probably be willing to bring the stuff and I would deliver it to Profeco for you.

Meg, these things can be resolved, just not thru the mail.

Karen
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