BBB Advice for Making “Golden” Gold Transactions

September 05, 2011

As global markets are currently seeing rapid declines, worried investors are seeking safe havens for their funds. Many are looking to new investment plans to help their money grow. With the price of gold at an all time high of more than $1,700 per ounce, Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to do their homework before making tempting gold transactions.

Whether through an online venue, an at home “gold party,” or your local jeweler, many consumers are looking to sell their gold jewelry for some quick cash. However, not just any dealer can be trusted. In just this year alone, BBB has already received more than 500 complaints against gold, silver and platinum dealers, a number that is well on its way to reaching 2010’s 581 total complaints.

“Consumers need to be on the lookout for not so reputable sellers,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “Many of the complaints we receive stem from false advertising and delivery issues where the consumer ends up being appraised far less than what they thought their gold was worth.”

BBB recommends following these tips to ensure a “golden” gold transaction:

Find a trustworthy appraiser. For an appraisal, if possible, go to someone locally whom you know and trust. Always check with BBB first at BBB suggests obtaining two or three appraisals to compare prices, prior to any sale.

The true price of gold may not be what you receive. If gold is worth $1,700 per ounce, you aren’t going to be paid $1,700 for every ounce of gold you have. Ask what you will be paid (if an online company, make sure you ask for specifics and give details on items you’ll be sending). Understand that the ounce quote is for pure gold only. For instance, 14-karat gold is composed of just 58.5 per cent gold. Ask how much the company’s going rate is for each ounce of each karat you are sending. The lower the karat, the less the gold content.

Don’t let jewelry of different karat value be weighed together. Some dealers will weigh all jewelry together and pay you for the lowest karat value. Separate your jewelry by karat value before attending a gold party.

Don’t let anyone steal your diamonds from gold pieces. Single gold stud earrings might be worth $5 or $10, yet diamonds in the earrings can be saved. Some are too small, and the labor to remove them might exceed their value, but engagement ring diamonds, for example, should be given a value separate from the gold.

Know the terms and conditions when sending items by post. Make sure your items are insured when being shipped, so if they are lost you can recover the value. Obtain appraisals prior to mailing items, so if they are lost you have proof of their value. Check the company’s policy as to what they will reimburse if they lose your product. Many limit their liability. Make a list of the items included in the package, keep a copy for yourself, and put a copy in the envelope. Take a picture of the items you are sending, including any identifying marks.

Ask about the company’s guarantee if you are not satisfied with the price offered. Can you get your product back, if you return the check? Many companies melt down the items in 10–14 days. If you send the check back, send it “return receipt requested,” so you have proof when it arrived at the company.