Maui Business

Better Business Bureau Warns of Shady Gold Transactions

September 9, 2011, 2:15 PM HST
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By Sonia Isotov

With gold at an all-time high of more than $1,700 per ounce, the Hawaii Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a
consumer warning yesterday advising consumer to do their homework before making gold transactions.

“Consumers need to be on the lookout for not so reputable sellers,” said Dwight Kealoha, CEO of Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau, in a written statement. “Many of the complaints we received are from false advertising and delivery issues where the consumer ends up being appraised far less than what they thought their gold was worth.”

In just this year alone, the BBB reported that it 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.

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As global markets are currently seeing rapid declines, worried consumers are looking to sell their gold jewelry for some quick cash. However, not just any dealer can be trusted. The 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. Check with BBB first at www.bbb.org. BBB suggests obtaining two or three appraisals to compare prices, prior to any sale.
  • The true price of gold may not be what is received. If gold is worth $1,700 per ounce, a consumer is not going to be paid $1,700 for every ounce of gold. Ask what to expect to be paid (if an online company, make sure to ask for specifics and give details on items sending). Understand that the ounce quote is for pure gold only. For instance, 14-karat gold is composed of just 58.5% gold. Ask how much the company’s going rate is for each ounce of each karat. 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 out 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 items are insured when being shipped, so value can be recovered. Obtain appraisals prior to mailing items, so if lost there is proof of 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 not satisfied with the price offered. Will the product be returned, if check is returned? Many companies melt down the items in 10–14 days. If a check is returned, send
    it “return receipt requested,” so there is proof of arrival.
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