by Michael Fuljenz
What should you do if you didn’t receive what you ordered from a gold seller, or the merchandise you received was not as described? Who can help you if you didn’t receive payment for gold you sold? How can you avoid these problems when buying or selling gold?
Remember these wise words: If you don’t know gold coins, you’d better know your gold coin dealer. The best way to avoid getting taken is to take your business to a reputable, professional numismatist, and check the person’s memberships and credentials. Before you buy or sell, contact the Better Business Bureau (http://www.BBB.org) to check the company’s BBB rating and see if the dealer is even accredited by the BBB.
In consultation with the BBB and various law enforcement agencies, I’ve compiled the following suggested actions for buyers and sellers of gold coins who encounter problems:
- Make copies of all correspondence, receipts and transactions and if possible have copies of advertisements or the dates and times the merchant’s advertisements were broadcast.
- Always contact the company directly to try to resolve the dispute. Ask for the manager, company owner or customer service department.
- Take thorough notes of your conversation(s).
- If the problem is still not resolved after a reasonable amount of time, contact the Customer Service and/or Advertising Departments of the news media organization(s) that published or broadcast the company’s advertisements to let them know about the problems.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the situation, one or more of these agencies also may be able to assist in the resolution of the dispute:
- File a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org). Even if the dealer is not a member, the BBB often can help resolve issues.
- Numismatic Crime Information Center (http://www.NumismaticCrimes.org) can help with investigative resources, information and direction for customers, dealers and law enforcement agencies. Contact: Doug Davis, NCIC, P.O. Box 14080, Arlington, Texas 76094. Phone: (817) 723-7231.
- Credit card company if you used a credit card for the disputed purchase and the purchase was made within the previous six months. Call the Customer Service number on the credit card and inquire about doing a chargeback for unordered or undelivered merchandise.
- Local Police Department or Sheriff’s Department, the local District Attorney or County Prosecutor and the State Attorney General in the city, county and/or state in which you live or in which the dealer has a place of business. Contact the law enforcement agencies in the city, county or state where the transaction took place. Phone numbers can be found in the Government pages of local phone books or online. A convenient listing of contact information for every state attorney general can be found on the National Association of Attorneys General website, http://www.naag.org.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation or Secret Service depending on the dollar amount of the transaction and whether interstate commerce or counterfeit coins were involved in the transaction. Phone numbers for the nearest FBI and Secret Service offices can be found in the Government pages of local telephone books.
- United States Postal Service may be able to provide assistance if the transaction occurred using the U.S. Mail. Go to your main post office and ask to talk with the local Postmaster or Postal Inspector.
- American Numismatic Association (http://www.money.org) if the dealers involved in the dispute are ANA members and the dispute involves alleged violation of the ANA Code of Ethics, the association offers complaint mediation services for a fee based on the dollar value of the transaction. Address: 818 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903. Phone: (800) 367-9723.
- Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network (http://www.FTC.gov); however, don’t expect an immediate response. The FTC usually responds when a significant number of serious complaints accumulate against a company, but it is still good to alert the FTC about unresolved disputes so they can be added to the agency’s files. Information about filing a complaint can be found online at http://www.consumeraction.gov. Phone: (877) 382-4357.
Bottom line: Do your homework before placing an order, and if there is a problem then don’t just sit back and wait. Be persistent in your efforts to resolve the dispute. Follow up with the company you did business with and the agencies where you’ve filed a complaint. Of course, you may also want to consult with an attorney.
Mike Fuljenz is the editor of the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) award-winning “Michael Fuljenz Metals Market Weekly Report,” and the numismatic consultant for First Fidelity Reserve. His award-winning radio show can be heard on KLVI News Talk AM 560 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. CST on the last Monday of the month.