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He Paid $13 for $13,000 Cartier Earrings, and Then the Jeweler Noticed

Rogelio Villarreal knew nothing about French jeweler Cartier, he said when an ad appeared on his Instagram feed last December. He clicked away, browsing pages of bling and other luxury items, including handbags, watches and necklaces, each worth thousands of dollars.

Then Mr. Villareal, who lives in Mexico, noticed a pair of earrings: thin 18-karat rose gold cuffs studded and lined with diamonds, priced at just 237 Mexican pesos, or about $13.

He bought two pairs. Later, the price of the earrings was adjusted on Cartier’s website to 237,000 pesos, or more than $13,000.

The purchase sparked a months-long brawl between the surgical resident in the northern state of Tamaulipas and the famous brand, with hundreds of social media users following him – some applauding , others scoffing — and even a Mexican senator who weighed in on the dispute.

“I was amazed at how much the necklaces and stuff cost and said, ‘Someday,’ until I saw the earrings,” Mr. Villarreal, 27, said. wrote on social networks. “I swear I broke out in a cold sweat.”

Less than a week after the purchase, Mr. Villareal said, Cartier launched a series of attempts to cancel the order, initially claiming the earrings were unavailable.

When Mr. Villarreal did nothing to cancel the order, he began receiving phone calls from company representatives.

They told her that “the earrings I ordered were not the right price, that’s why they wanted to cancel the purchase and that due to the inconvenience, they would give me a gift “, did he declare.

As “compensation,” the company then offered “a gesture from the house of Cartier”: a free bottle of Cartier Cuvée champagne and a Cartier leather item, according to an email sent to Mr. Villarreal.

He decided to refuse the gifts and fight back, using a contact form on the company’s website to cite a federal consumer protection law in Mexico that says a supplier of goods can be sued “if it does not comply with the terms and conditions under which” a product or service is purchased.

Cartier did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Mr. Villarreal found the general conditions of sale on the Cartier website in Mexico, which specify that any dispute can be brought before the Office of the Federal Consumer Attorney for “conciliation”.

That’s exactly what he did. He filed a complaint with the Matamoros branch of the federal consumer protection agency.

The agency, whose role is similar to that of the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, has long intervened on behalf of consumers when retailers change list prices after a sale.

In February, the consumer protection agency invited consumers to join a class-action lawsuit against Sony, which had canceled orders for a PlayStation 5 console that it had offered on its website in Mexico at a discount of 30 %.

The consumer protection law is so well known in Mexico that people are using social media to call attention to mispricing on Amazon and other retailers’ websites in widely viewed and shared posts, according to El Economista , a Mexico City newspaper that covers financial issues. news.

Mr. Villarreal said the consumer protection agency had summoned Cartier to arbitration and the government had made several attempts at mediation to reach an agreement. Agency officials said they cannot share information about an open case with anyone other than the parties involved.

If the consumer protection agency believes a company is at fault, it can impose fines or other sanctions, but it cannot force a company to meet a price it has indicated, Jorge López said Zozaya, business lawyer in Mexico. If no agreement is reached, either party can ask a judge to resolve the complaint.

Mexican law does not extend protection to consumers if a posted price was clearly an error, Mr. Zozaya said.

“If this case had gone to court, it probably would have resolved favorably for Cartier,” Mr. Zozaya said.

But there seems to be a truce on the matter. Ahead of the consumer protection agency’s mediation hearing next week, Mr. Villarreal said Monday that he had received notice from Cartier that his order would be filled. The agreement could not be confirmed with Cartier or the agency.

"The war is over," he wrote in English in a post on social media.

Some users applauded his tenacity in convincing Cartier to honor the terms of his purchase, while others, including a Mexican senator, accused him of abusing the consumer protection system for his own benefit.

“It is not good to take advantage of a mistake to the detriment of others. » wrote Lilly Téllezsenator from the state of Sonora, adding: “even if the law supports you.”

Mr. Villarreal said he was glad the ordeal appeared to be over but that the legal process would continue until the earrings arrived.

Elda Cantu contributed reporting from Mexico City.



News Source : www.nytimes.com
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