Park West Gallery, the art auction house that operates on 85 cruise ships, is scrapping its all-sales-final policy.
Effective this month, Park West will give customers 40 days to get a refund and 40 months to make an exchange.
"No auction house offers anything like this," said Albert Molina, head of the Park West Gallery cruise line division. "We don't think it's only the best in class, we think it's phenomenal in retail in general. Where can you go and buy a watch or furniture and have this sort of policy?"
The new program will be implemented on Carnival, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean cruises this month. Park West also will implement the refund-and-exchange policy for its land auctions.
The original buyer gets 40 months to exchange any piece of artwork for any other artwork of the same price in the Park West collection. If exchangers opt for a more expensive piece, they pay the difference.
The refund policy allows the buyer to obtain a refund within 40 days for the full price of the art, less the buyer's premium (15% of the purchase but not exceeding $1,000 per piece).
Park West was the subject of a New York Times article earlier this summer that took aim at the gallery's no-refund policy and other issues. According to the story, cruise ship passengers said the art they bought was not worth what Park West auctioneers said it was.
Molina said that the new policy had nothing to do with the New York Times story and that Park West had piloted a similar return policy on four cruise ships last year.
"We had to test it and see what the response would be," Molina said. "When we saw that the return rate was very low and that people liked it, we added the 40-month part." Molina said the rate of return was 2.9% during the test phase.
Park West operates galleries in Southfield, Mich., where it is based, and Miami Lakes, Fla. The Florida facility is also a framing and distribution center.