Investor Tipsheet Warns Kay Jewelers Parent That More Trouble Could Be Coming

Image courtesy of JeepersMedia

Signet Jewelers isn’t a household name, but you’re probably familiar with its brands if you watch TV: the British company owns the chains Kay Jewelers, Zales, and Jared, along with Piercing Pagoda and some regional brands. Today, a report from an influential investors’ tipsheet led to a drop in Signet’s stock price… though possible problems that would be dire for investors would benefit consumers in the long run.

The article that caused today’s stock drop appeared in Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, a twice-monthly journal about investments. According to Buzzfeed, Grant pointed to problems beyond the gemstone switcharoo issue.

While that doesn’t happen very often, more than half of the store’s sales are company-financed, which could significantly hurt its business model if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were to investigate the company.

What are the potential issues with the store’s financing programs? There are plenty of complaints on file with the CFPB: just the latest complaint filed is from a consumer who says that the debt they owe the company is due to identity theft, yet Kay’s credit division won’t change the consumer’s account. “The credit bureaus informed me that they sent the information to Kay Jewelers about the identity theft but Kay Jewelers continues to report this fraudulent account to the credit bureaus,” the non-customer wrote.

Other customers reported harassing calls from debt collectors at work, and the company is a frequent creditor when Americans file for bankruptcy. Signet makes millions from giving customers loans for their shiny objects, but the company is considering its options, including outsourcing the credit part of what it does.

The stone switcharoo, of course, can’t be ignored. Owners of diamond rings from across the country have complained about bad wedding band repairs, including diamonds replaced with lower-quality or synthetic stones. Grant’s pointed out that while the Buzzfeed articles generated a lot of, um, buzz, just one national news outlet would have to come in with a hidden camera with a ring for repair and get back the wrong thing to destroy the company’s stock price.

We’d also argue that jewelry stores should never do this because it’s immoral and terrible for consumers, not just because it could hurt the stock price, but everyone has their own priorities.

Stock In Kay Jewelers Owner Is Tumbling After A Critical Report [Buzzfeed]

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