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Interwatches on eBay

November 18, 2007

Ok, so I'm generally not one who complains, leaves negative comments, or rants about a company after a bad experience. Yes, there are some exceptions. Well, Interwatches is one of them. Earlier this year I bought my wife a Ladies Rolex from Interwatches via eBay. We have been very happy with the watch, but Interwatches was odd to deal with.

For an added $120 Interwatches offered a water resistance test, along with a water resistance guarantee. I bought this because my wife wanted to swim with the watch. Once I won the bid, I got an automatic invoice from Interwatches. I wrote them to ask for the water proof test, and went back and forth before finally getting an email from them telling me to just add the extra $120 to my payment, which I did.

The watch arrived, but did not include the certificate. Also, it arrived a little earlier than the delay that "water proof test" should have added. I called and they assured me the test had been done, and they promptly sent me a certificate. It left me wondering.

As it turned out, my wife didn't swim with the watch for several months. Then, when we were up on a lake in the SC mountains, she went swimming. When she got out of the water, the face of the watch was completely fogged. Annoyed (and, yes, suspicious that it was somehow her fault-- a fault of my own), I checked the screw-down crown, which was firmly in place. I unscrewed it to see if the seal might be visibly damaged, but couldn't really tell. I secured it again, and told her not to swim with it again until we could return it.

When we returned home, I called Interwatches. They acknowledged that we had a guarantee. They told me to ship the watch to them right away, and they would take care of it.

A few days later I received a call from them. The agent, clearly foreign and with halting English, told me that their jeweler determined that the crown had not been screwed down completely, and this was the cause of the water breach. He explained that it was therefore not covered, and would cost me $85 to be serviced. Now, I am 100% certain that this is not true. I'm not 99.9% certain, but 100%. I checked that thing. I've owned a Rolex with a screw-down crown for 20 years, and I know how it works-- this is why I checked the thing when it happened (because I wasn't so sure she knew it).

I went ballistic. I explained to him the events, and told him that I had in fact checked the watch immediately upon discovering the problem. I insisted that there was NO WAY this was true, and that he needed to fix my watch under the $120 guarantee. We went round and round for 20 minutes, and he finally told me he would speak with his manager, who was conveniently "out."

When he called back the next day, I stood my ground. In fact, I insisted that if he refused to fix my watch under the warranty, that he should refund the $120 to me. He could take the $85 out of the refund. Again, he had to call me back.

Then I began to think: they've got my watch held hostage; it's only $85 to get it back, fixed. Standing on principle at that point might just cost me the watch. Then I hatched a plan: pay for the repair via American Express, then dispute the payment when the watch arrives. I called Amex to ask them about the situation. They explained to me that, even if I disagreed with the $85 extortion fee, so long as I agreed to pay it initially, I couldn't really dispute it-- not without lying about it.

The upshot is that I wasn't going to lie about the situation-- that was what they were doing, and I wasn't going to stoop to their level. I decided to pay the $85 just to get the watch back. I've chalked it up to experience, and I'll never do business with Interwatches again. Feel free to let me know if you have had a different experience.