Several months ago, the secretary of a very wealthy Dallas fellow (8 billion reported on the search of his name!) brought these two shot glasses…GOLD shot glasses…and asked me to engrave them as a 50th birthday gift for a friend.  “Can you do gold?”  I told her yes and asked the value.  “$17,000. for the pair,” she said.  “Recently, I had them engraved and they were a mess.  I had to have them melted down and recast.  It was expensive and I hear you do great work.”

WHOA!  Seventeen grand was off the charts and I hesitated.  Finally, I gave her an estimate…a range…and she was happy with it. She left them for me to do. I realized by the time she drove away I didn’t handle it right.  The ‘range’ I gave her was ridiculously low and she must have known it.

Then I got busy talking to several people who gave me their ideas.  Some involved formulas of percentages of replacement costs, percentage of the value, and other calculations that were obscure and confusing.  I stirred it all together and called the woman back with a revised, firm quote because of the value of the gift.  It was something over $1100. which was considerably higher than the estimate.  She balked.  There was no haggling or even discussion.  She said she’d come back for them and she did; I was glad I didn’t have to spend the night with them!

Here’s what I learned.  Knowing she already had one bad experience and needed to have them recast should have been a key conversation point.  How much did THAT cost?  What WOULD be my liability if I sneezed mid-word, freaked (unlikely!), or flat-out had a mental lapse and left out a letter, etc., etc., etc.  Unfortunately, I didn’t engage her in that discussion. Had I established a limit of my liability in case of a faux pas, I would have had the peace of mind that it wouldn’t be thousands I’d have to fork over. Of course I would not have had to replace the pair with a screwup.  The gold would still be the customer’s so what I would have actually been hanging out for would be the recast cost.

BOTTOM LINE:  If I could rewind, I would quote considerably more than my estimate because of the items’ value.  Not $1100. for 15 minutes work but several hundred.  With that, a signed note of agreement what my cost would be in the event of a mistake, and it would be a yes or a no from her.  She would have been in a better frame of mind with a firm quote up front.  My estimate was the problem.

Engraving two chunks of gold is a piece of cake.  Just never thought about having to rebake the cake!

-Ken    •   214.250.6958

Oh yes, these and other stories…along with learning exactly how to do the easy part…the engraving…is what our Engraving Workshops are all about.  Can still squeeze you in the September 4, 5, 6 session or in October on 8, 9, & 10.  Details.

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