Dr Gregory Baran was full of anticipation on a chilly Thursday in December 2021 as he carefully opened a small package delivered by a FedEx driver to his doctor’s office on the outskirts of Kingston, Ontario.
Baran bought an 18-carat gold Rolex Pearlmaster watch for nearly $ 27,000 three weeks earlier than 3 Kings Auction, an online company based in Redondo Beach. He planned to surprise his wife Julia with an expensive watch for the upcoming wedding anniversary.
“Rolex is a work of art and I wanted something that she could use,” Baran (59) explained in a telephone interview. “It was the least I could do for her after 35 years of suffering.
However, when he opened the box with the name Rolek stamped on it, he was immediately surprised by the disbelief.
Cheap sports watch
“Inside the box was a cheap, black sports watch that you can find at Walmart,” Baran said in a telephone interview.
Julia Baran, 60, was even more open about her disappointment.
“I am amazed that what was in the box is not what is written on the box,” she said. “I am terribly disappointed that someone took away our joy for the celebration of the 35th anniversary of our marriage.
Worse, Baran said, 3Kings refused to refund his purchase.
A woman who answered the phone earlier this week at 3 Kings said that she personally packed and shipped the Rolex and that she stayed with the decision not to reimburse Baran for expenses or provide him with another watch.
“We have proof that we sent the correct item,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.
Pressured for details, the woman told a reporter from the Southern California News Group to contact the 3 Kings lawyer, but she refused to state the name or phone number of that person.
Experienced auction buyer
According to the 3 Kings website, the auction house has been operating for more than 25 years and specializes in diamonds, precious stones and fine jewelry.
Baran, a passionate antiques collector, came across Rolek while browsing LiveAuctioneers, an online platform that hosts real-time auctions.
Over the years, he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on various items purchased through LiveAuctioneers and has never had a problem with Rolek. LiveAuctioneers is currently investigating Baran’s complaint. The doctor believes that LiveAuctioneers could have done more to solve the problem and that they should probably have suspended 3 kings.
At first, Baran’s transaction with the 3 Kings seemed inconspicuous.
The day after winning the auction, he received an invoice from 3 Kings along with instructions for transferring funds to the Wells Fargo account. He was also informed that it could take Rolex three weeks to deliver due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, the delay was his least problem.
Immediately after receiving the sports watch instead of Rolex, Baran started bombarding LiveAuctioneers with emails asking for updates on efforts to get his money back, and expressing growing frustration that the problem was unresolved.
“They offered to refund me if I returned the watch I bought, but never received,” he told LiveAuctioneers in an email. “Accordingly, it remains for me to believe that this was a deliberate, fake sale.
In another email to LiveAuctioneers, Baran noted that the same Rolek he bought from 3 Kings on November 12 was resold by affiliate Golden Gate Auctioneer less than a month later.
It also included screenshots from the LiveAuctioneers website that show that the ads for both watches contain identical photos, descriptions and serial numbers.
LiveAuctioneers repeatedly asked 3 Kings for details about Baran’s shipment, and a customer service representative informed the company in an e-mail: “We invite you to consider this further because this bidder has a 10-year consistent file and has no problems with the auction house.” ”
Neelam Jethva, vice president of operations at 3 Kings, did not give up.
“I believe that this customer is not honest, because I packed a Rolek watch and left it directly with FedEx,” Jethva said in an e-mail to a representative of LiveAuctioneers. “We are deeply upset that this customer is misrepresenting us.
Baran described Jethvy’s explanation as ridiculous.
“How convenient it is to have someone who will remember packing and sending that particular hour when it sells for hundreds a month,” he said. “There is no way to prove that the right watch was sent.
Jethva also explained how the same Rolex could be found at two different auctions in less than a month. “The second listing on December 8 must have been a mistake,” she told LiveAuctioneers. “We sent a watch to this bidder and removed the item from our inventory.”
The lawsuit is too expensive
However, Baran remained determined, consulting with a lawyer from Los Angeles about his options. However, he was informed that conducting a civil lawsuit against the 3 Kings would probably cost more than $ 100,000. Baran also reported the incident to the Bureau for Better Business and the skeptical police detective Redondo Beach, who speculated that he might have changed his watches himself.
Redondo Beach police did not respond to requests for comment on whether they were investigating the problem.
In the end, the doctor, who simply wanted to give his wife an expensive, romantic gift, decided that there was only one thing he could do.
“I was broken because my plans failed, so I bought a similar watch in Canada,” Baran said. “My story had a happy ending.”