So you've done your research and have come to the conclusion that you need to get out of paper; which includes paper dollars, stocks, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, annuities, 401k's and IRA's. The only paper you will be stockpiling is toilet paper you've decided. Where does one turn? There are literally thousands of companies selling precious metals out there, but how do you know which one to trust?
Did you know that there are over 2000 gold dealers in the U.S. and less than 20% are certified by the Better Business Bureau and many of them have complaints you don't want to experience! So, that leaves you with less than 400 companies to research!
You are absolutely right in wondering how one finds an honest, reputable dealer. The mud is deep, the water murky and that is the way they want it. Their advertising is everywhere, their pricing lacks transparency, their websites are mysterious and they send you a folder to fill out with pages of paperwork to complete. I have found that 70% of my customers will not use the big name brand advertisers because of the high price, confidentiality, complaints and non transparent websites. The other 30% hate to use coin shops, pawn shops, EBay, Craigs List or other local dealers because of risk, price, confidentiality, inconvenience and lack of transparency. So I suggest that you:
1. AVOID THE BIG NAME ADVERTISERS! These are the names you hear continuously on T.V., radio, and the internet that you can't seem to avoid. They are at the top, the side and on every page you visit on the internet. They spend literally millions a year on advertising and you end up paying for it when you buy from them. They advertise that they have the lowest prices but they seldom do. Merit, Gold Line, Tulving and National Gold Exchange are just the most recent that have gone bankrupt and lost their BBB ratings and I suspect more will follow in the next few years. In fact their prices on Silver Eagles are $2-5.00 higher and $15-$50 dollars higher on Golden Eagles on these sites. Do your due diligence and don't take their word for it! Bigger is not always better, in fact, just the opposite in this case because you are just a number. Clients rarely deal with the same representative, you receive little personalized service and often times you will find that your order has been lost when it is late. This is the number one complaint after reviewing the list of complaints when you visit the Better Business Bureau listing. Their common excuse is, "I just place the order, accounting must release it after payment, then someone else fills the order and someone else ships it."
2. AVOID THE BIG NAME WHEELER DEALERS! They have fancy websites that are mysterious about their pricing and avoid any prices on their main page. This is because they don't want you to see, select and purchase the cheapest bullion. They are paid big commissions to BAIT and SWITCH you into more expensive coins or even numismatic coins! Don't fall for their scam! These guys make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. This is the second most common complaint about the big players when you visit their B.B.B. listing. Also be sure to check the big names you are considering on the website www.ripoffreports.com you'll be glad you did!
3. AVOID THE BIG NAME BRANDS! Houston & Chicago now require registration of precious metal sales. France's government no longer allows the purchase of precious metal sales with cash only credit cards, no cash! Could this happen here in the U.S.? You bet, and what if the government decides to call in the gold and silver or worse yet CONFISCATE it? That big folder you filled out will be a direct link straight to your door. Don't give out your personal information or allow yourself to be a referral for other customers. You are advertising that you store precious metals.
4. AVOID PAWN SHOPS, COIN DEALERS, SHOPPING NETWORK, EBAY and CRAIGSLIST! I have found most customers have been sold substandard and used coins at a 35-45% markup. They rely on their location and the phone book to be found. They hope you don't know what you are doing. They lie in wait for you to sell you a used silver dollar for $25 and resell it for $50 or give you little for your scrap gold. Most Shopping Network, EBay and Craigslist sellers sell clad coins or coins that have a fancy letter of authenticity but are worth little if you ever want to sell them back to a reputable dealer. Then there are those dealers that mint their own bullion with added alloys higher than .111%. I have also have had complaints from buyers that the so called reputable coin shops lack transparency and won't let you see the COMEX prices reflecting gold and silver prices updated by the minute. They will check their screen, which you never see, then tell you what their price is. You basically have to trust them if you want to buy from them. BUYERS BEWARE! A reputable dealer, when your order is shipped to you, will include the actual trade paperwork and you will receive FREE re-certification from us when you are ready to sell. Just call me to place your sale @ with zero commission charges.
SO HOW DO I FIND A GOOD AND SMALL DEALER?
1. SCOUR THE WEB! Look for websites that are often times obscure but have easy to understand pricing and fair buy backs listed on their pages. A purchase price of 3 percent over the price of a coin is way too expensive and a 3 percent buy back under spot is a rip off. Do your homework! As a small dealer I don't advertise and pass the savings on to you charging 1% or less commission with no fees for sales.
2. ASK FOR REFERRALS! This is probably the best or worst way of finding a good dealer. Often times our friends are really not that knowledgeable about precious metals but are more than willing to offer a name. If they do offer a name, have they used them themselves and refer to the rules above. You should first visit their website, give them a call, check out their B.B.B. ratings and ask them for a referral from their distributor. Ratings at first glance are also not what you might think. An A+ rating may be excellent but many times, if you visit the complaint section, you will find 60, 70 and even hundreds of complaints and many on the same issue, click on the complaints. If they respond to the customer's complaint their score is not damaged because they have purchased their BBB rating and the A+ rating is still seen by you the customer.
Likewise an A, one might think, may be worse than the A+ at first glance. However the A could actually be better but haven't been in business for the required period of time the BBB requires to receive the A+ rating or they may have NOT bought the bureaus rating to upgrade their rating. Complaints can and will happen, but similar complaints registered over and over presents a serious concern for a company's processes. A dealer with a grade of none or C to F should be avoided completely. I have seen an F rating for one of the biggest gold advertisers and today they have lost their rating with the BBB because of it. When you do locate a firm you are interested in because of their K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) philosophy on web design with no need to wow or camouflage what they are really up to, call to speak to them. Ask them how to use their website, their fees, buy backs and information they need from you. Be honest about your apprehension in buying online. Likewise when you place a trade with them they are responsible for completing the trade should you fail to follow through and may take legal action against you. Online brokers are required to meet asset requirements to become a broker. We know how the big brokerages work or have worked for them and are now in business for ourselves because of their business practices. We are now in business for ourselves and aim to stay in business. We deliver varying degrees of service with the hope of earning your repeat business through ethical and honest business practices to satisfy you in hopes of your return. If you are still leery, make a small purchase or go elsewhere. Follow your instincts, they are usually right! My customers have told me that the smaller the broker the better price and service and I believe you will too. I invite you to call me to discuss how you can protect your family before it's too late!