Get Bit by the Gold Bug, Not the Gold Dealer
Unfortunately, many customers new to the gold market get scammed by untrustworthy dealers. We have seen many people — who could have benefited greatly by buying gold – who have had bad first experiences and end up turning away from the industry altogether. We want you to have confidence that gold is a good fit for you. When you learn how certain unreliable gold dealers rip off novice buyers, you can develop confidence that there are gold dealers that can be trusted.Gold is an unregulated industry. Gold is almost the only financial asset that is not regulated by government. This is beneficial for people who want to buy gold to protect their assets privately, without government tracking. However, it also means that gold dealers can charge any price for their products.
For bullion products this is not a problem. Ungraded bullion coins like gold eagles and gold maple leafs are sold in such high volumes that there is high competition between dealers to keep the price at a low markup over spot. It is relatively easy to shop and compare prices on these items.
Rare coins with numismatic value above the value of their metal content are a different story. Investment-grade rare coins can be a valuable way to diversify your portfolio, but it is more difficult to confirm their actual value. By definition there are not many of these coins, so it is much more difficult, often impossible, to shop around and compare prices. Some unscrupulous gold dealers will charge a 100% markup or more on rare coins. This means that the coin would have to double in value for the customer to just break even on their purchase.
There are many reasons rare coins are a valuable addition to a portfolio. However, rare coins also are the way the most untrustworthy dealers in the industry will try to take advantage of customers. There are many strategies used in the industry to trick novice customers into buying overpriced rare coins:
Many gold companies will use names that sound patriotic, but some will go even further and adopt names that make them appear to be government agencies. They may even have a logo that looks like the seal of a government agency. Be aware: the only US government organization that sells gold is the US Mint. The US Mint deals only with raw bullion products. It does not sell coins that have been graded. If a company tries to sell you a graded rare coin, it is not a government organization.
Some companies will stress that their products are “government issued” and “certified legal tender.” It is true that products like gold eagles, silver eagles, and gold buffaloes were originally minted by the US Mint. However, just because the products originated from the US government doesn’t mean that the company that is reselling them is trustworthy.
The “Bait and Switch”
Many industries will use a “loss leader” offer to attract customers. This is a product that is offered at or below cost to get the customer interested, and then the sales person will try to sell the customer on another product where the profit is made.
In the gold industry companies will often advertise “at cost” gold with little or no markup over the metal’s spot price. Then, once the customer is on the phone the company will try to sell them over priced rare coins. Even the US Mint itself charges a premium over the spot price when dealers buy from it. If a company is offering you a coin at the spot price of gold, the company is losing money. Ultimately this company expects to make their money back and more by selling you marked up numismatic coins.
How did you find out about a gold company? When you consider the cost of the TV, newspaper, or magazine ad that they used to get your attention, the company is losing a good deal of money. There is nothing wrong with a company being paid for its services. Simply be aware that fancy advertisements and glossy pamphlets come at a cost.
Facts are facts and fluff is fluff. Evaluate a product or company based on the fundamentals, and not based on fancy advertisements. Higher costs mean higher prices.
Many celebrity personalities have endorsed gold companies, including TV stars, movie stars, sports stars, politicians, and even a former US Mint director. Invariably, these celebrities are being paid for their endorsement. These endorsements do not come cheap. Ultimately the cost is passed on to you in the price you pay for the product. Even if this celebrity has some particular expertise in the industry, you should not let their recommendation stop you from doing your due diligence to evaluate the company.
A company that mistreats its customers will eventually be ruined by its own reputation. However, when a company is endorsed by a high profile celebrity it can potentially continue to pull in new customers after having scalped its previous ones. Focus on the message, and not the flash of the messenger.
Coin grading companies like NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) and PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) are in the business of grading the conditions of coins. They are not in the business of grading the reliability of companies. Just because a company is a certified dealer for one of these grading services does not necessarily mean the company is trustworthy. Also be aware that just because a coin has been graded to be of good condition it does not necessarily mean the coin has any numismatic value.
Many gold dealers will claim that their products do not have reporting requirements. For a complete listing of which products have reporting requirements see our reporting requirements page.
Shop Around on Investment-Grade Sets and Date Runs
We have spoken with many customers who have purchased rare coin sets from other companies with high mark-ups. When they find out how much less we charge for these products the customers feel cheated and become skeptical of the entire industry. Instead of trusting our lower rates, they begin to wonder how we could be making money at all when we are charging so much less. They wonder how we might also be taking advantage of them.
We hope to catch customers before they have this negative experience. Our goal is education over sales. We want you to understand why the coins you are purchasing have value. Find out why so many other customers have switched to RPMEX after having bad experiences with other companies. Find out why RPMEX has a complaint-free “A” BBB rating. Thank you for giving us the chance to earn your trust.