So, will Cash4Gold offer me cash to kill this story?

by Paul Michael on 5 February 2009 27 comments
Photo: Tom Arthur

You’ve seen the tacky ads; you’ve been entertained by Ed McMahon and MC Hammer; but hopefully, you haven’t fallen for any of it. Cash4Gold has a simple promise; send them your unwanted gold (and we all have a ton of unwanted valuables lying around I’m sure) and in return they’ll pay “top dollar” for it.  But as you’ll see from over 260 complaints to the Better Business Bureau, top dollar certainly doesn’t mean what it used to.

The Cash4Gold operation is at best misleading, and at worst is more like a sophisticated version of highstreet robbery. What they ask you to do is hunt around in your home for gold that you no longer have a use for, and pop it into an envelope. In return, Cash4Gold will estimate its value and send you an offer for it. You can choose to accept it or turn it down. And as the offer is usually well below market value, most people reject it and get a slightly better offer. This from Inside Edition:

INSIDE EDITION's Senior Investigative Correspondent Matt Meagher asked master appraiser and jewelry expert Don Palmieri to assemble a collection of gold, 23 pieces in all, to sell to the company Cash4Gold. Each piece was weighed and analyzed with precision instruments to determine exact gold content, and laser etched for identification purposes. Based on the going rate for gold at the time of INSIDE EDITION's investigation, Palmieri and a second independent expert said we should get between $975 to $1,200 for the 23 pieces of gold in our collection. So we sent the gold off to Cash4Gold to see how much they would pay. About a week later, a check came for just $209.81. Expert Don Palmieri laughed when he saw the amount. "It's not a very good offer," he said. When INSIDE EDITION called to turn down the offer, Cash4Gold nearly doubled it instantly to more than $400, still much less than the experts said it was worth.

The ads are generally aimed at certain sectors of society, which is clear from the times and channels where their advertising appears. They want people who are at home during the daytime, usually retirees or people down on their luck. And they’re hoping people will be ignorant to the current market value of gold. A great story I read at Cockeyed.com highlights one guy’s encounter, Brent, with the Cash4Gold lowballers. Here’s an extract:

The pawn shop prices were as follows:
$10 per DWT for 14K gold.
$8 per DWT for 10K gold. With these prices, Brent's booty was worth $198.
He had $110 worth of 14 K gold plus $88 worth of 10 K gold.
Brent had initially noted prices on the Cash4Gold site as:
$15 per DWT for 14K gold.
$13 per DWT for 10K gold. Better, but all any prices had been removed from the Cash4Gold site by the time he was ready to send in his gold.
Cash4Gold operates in a manner similar to GoldKit. They send you an envelope, you send your gold to them in it. They determine the value and cut a check for that amount. If the amount meets your expectations, you cash it. If not, you have 15 days to return the check and get your gold back. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. He also noticed that Cash4Gold offers a "fast cash" scheme to forego the paper check and deposit their payment directly into your checking account within 24 hours. This setup would be faster, but gold sellers would give up their chance to examine and renegotiate their offer. And that, it turns out, would be a huge mistake for anyone selling gold to Cash4Gold. Brent did not use the FAST CASH option, he wanted to see what they would offer, and was willing to wait to see how much it was. The offer check from Cash4Gold arrived, for $60! Brent called Cash4Gold and immediately and asked for his stuff back. They made a new offer on the phone: $178!

I think the phrase that resonated most strongly for me from the article was this one; “How can you offer someone one price, then TRIPLE it, and not call the first offer a rip-off?”

How indeed?

At this point I would usually warn you all to stay as far away from Cash4Gold as you can, and bid you a good day. But there’s now an interesting new twist to this sordid tale. As it turns out, some of the many people out there who are writing bad things about this shady outfit are getting noticed; they’re appearing in the top searches on Google. And in turn, that has the Cash4Gold guys getting pretty nervous.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

An article I found on BoingBoing tells the story of a guy, not unlike myself, who tries to keep consumers informed. And his story on Cash4Gold was met with an offer from them to pull his story in exchange for cold, hard cash. I wish I were making it up. Here is one of the letters Rob Cockerham received:

Rob,
I work with Cash4Gold on the reputation management. Your article is ranking #3 on their brand term. They would really like to make it worth your while to take it down or make it more positive. They did something similar by joining (OTHER CONSUMER AFFAIRS WEBSITE)’s advocacy program. Is it worth a few thousand to take it down? If not, maybe a donation to your favorite charity is more to your liking?
Feel free to call me anytime to discuss further.

Thanks,
Joe Laratro 

President 

Tandem Interactive - Trendy Online Marketing Solutions
Hollywood, FL 33020

This is a new low. And what’s even more concerning is that other sites with your interests at heart have taken the bribe and pulled the story. Outrageous is too small a word. I popped over to The Consumerist to see what they had on Cash4Gold. And yes, they had plenty, including this article in which a former Cash4Gold employee tells all (no doubt to repair a very bruised conscience). I advice you to read the full article, but here's an extract:

I am a former employee of Cash 4 Gold. I did not know much about the company before being hired. On my first day of being hired, I was taught the "Cash 4 Gold Scam" from beginning to end.

5. We do offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee or your jewelry returned, BUT THE CATCH IS, that the guarantee is to contact us within 10 DAYS from when your check is DATED. (This begins with the time it took for the accounts payables dept. to ISSUE the check and also including the TRANSIT TIME for you to receive your check in the mail. **** NOTATE THE COMMERCIALS THAT INSINUATE THAT YOU GET YOUR CASH IN 24 HRS.*** If you request (sign) for FAST CASH (direct deposit) you automatically WAIVE your rights to have your items returned, EVEN if you are not satisfied with amount of your deposit.

6. You generally receive your check around the "7th-10th" business day, AND majority of the time Customers are outraged when they lay eyes on the amount of their check. Some Customer's even receive a check for 0.01 cents.

So, Wise Bread readers, spread the word. Let everyone you can know that Cash4Gold is not only a very shady organization with whom you shouldn’t trust you valuables, but it’s also one who will attempt to pay off people who try and tell the truth. If I do get an offer from the Cash4Gold people to pull my article, I'll let you know. And of course, I would never take it anyway, even for my favorite "charity!"

And folks, if you want money for your gold, try your local pawn shop. If you don’t like their offer, walk away with your gold; perhaps sell it on eBay or Craigslist. But never pop it in an envelope and mail it to this company…you may never see it again, or be offered a paltry amount of money in return.
 

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Guest's picture

I think anyone should go to a local jewelry store and get an appraisal before selling on ebay, craigslist or even a pawn shop. Find out how much gold you have in your jewelry and be informed. It's similar to people contacting debt settlement companies and taking the first offer given to them.

Guest's picture

If I had gold lying around I would actually be a bit afraid to send it to some company in an envelope - it would be too easy for it to go missing and afterward it is very difficult to provide any kind of information about the value of the contents of the envelope.
So I agree with you - a local pawn shop is probably the best option.
It also seems that a great way to make money with Cash4Gold is to write negative articles about them. :))

Guest's picture
Guest

I hope this operation goes out of business if only to get those awful people off my TV screen.

Guest's picture
Alex

I was pretty skeptical about the whole cash for gold space myself until I went ahead and sent my gold and silver items into cash for gold usa. I felt I got a pretty fair payout.

Guest's picture

I figured this had to be a rip off, because it looks just like all the other low budget commercials on TV trying to get your money.

Sometimes they advertise on my blog.... well they might not now after this comment.

-Dan Malone-

Guest's picture
Lance

I like how the ad on the RSS feed for this article is a display ad for GoldKit.com.

Carrie Kirby's picture

I can see MC Hammer lending his image to a sleazo company like this, but you'd think McMahon would want to hang onto a shred of dignity in his old age. But what am I saying? Publisher's Clearinghouse?

Have you heard of "gold parties" where buyers set up at a suburban home and the resident invites neighbors to come around with gold to sell? I'm guessing the attendees at these do not get the best rates either. Then again, if you have a couple broken necklaces from the bottom of your jewelry box, you might not be likely to ever go through the trouble to get anything for them if not for parties like that.

I blog at www.shopliftingwithpermission.com.

Guest's picture
Guest

sounds like a great way for a thief to get rid of some stolen goods.

Paul Michael's picture

would probably have the smarts to pawn that stuff. No paper trail.

Guest's picture
Guest

i thought pawn shops kept a paper trail (driver's license or some such). one could also get their items back (if found) from a pawn shop. the police could investigate.

how much gold does this place get, there would be no way to ever return it to the rightful owner. good luck having the police search for stolen items wherever these places are. i bet a thief could even use their real name and checking account and no one would ever make a connection.

Guest's picture
karpat

We recently took some coins and gold jewelry to our local Sears Department store where there is a little coin shop tucked away behind the appliance department. The fellow buys and sells gold, coins, etc. We were able to discuss the value of each item and were under no obligation to sell him anything that we decided to keep. I felt like we were treated fairly. We left with a check and felt satisfied with our transaction. He did require us to show a valid driver's license.

Paul Michael's picture

And IDs are easy enough to fake, especially Driver's Licences. I'd rather do that if I were on the wrong side of the law.

Guest's picture
Guest

This guy and apparently what looks like his mother and daughter should be ashamed.

Guest's picture
Guest

If they are paying the shipping, we should all get them to send us an envelope and they send it back to them with a piece of iron (or just some rocks). The shipping cost may bankrupt them and they will go away! Come on people, clearly these people are creative, we should be too!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

If they are paying the shipping, we should all get them to send us an envelope and they send it back to them with a piece of iron (or just some rocks). The shipping cost may bankrupt them and they will go away! Come on people, clearly these people are creative, we should be too!!!

Guest's picture
lucille

Consumerist reported this week that Cash4gold is being investigated by the Florida AG's office. Hopefully they will find a way to shut these crooks down.

The suggestion of getting envelopes and sending them junk does have some merit. It has been used to enough extent to cause credit card companies to put tracking numbers on the postage paid envelopes. You can just block them out with a sharpie though. I think I remember one of Jerry Falwell's religious shows having the same problem of many people wasting return postage to make the company take a financial hit. Falwell's group ceased the envelope promotion due to it.

If more people did a brief blog post about this or posted it on a forum they frequent it could actually change something here.

Guest's picture
Tuttle

OMG! This is one of my all time pet peeves. If you have scrap gold you do not want to sell it to a local pawn shop! They are going to offer you a fraction of what it is really worth.

You want to sell it to the same people they are going to turn around and sell to such as Hauser and Miller Gold, www.hauserandmiller.com/company/index.html

There are others, this just happens to be the company I like dealing with. They have a sterling reputation and you will be paid very close to spot.

Yes you have to mail your gold to them and wait for them to do an assay. You will be paid based on that days spot price. But it's going to be well worth it. Besides, that's what insurance is for.

Last year I had 103 of good 14k to sell. I went to a local pawn shop to have it weighed and just to see what they would offer. They offered me $400 for all of it.

I had already called Hauser and knew what they would pay. Would you believe it was really worth over $1600.

Pawn Shops prey on the desperate and ill informed. Plan ahead and don't fall for what they have to offer.

Guest's picture
Sharon Rowe

Your local jeweler will often buy gold. This is a good place to have the content analyzed, too.

Guest's picture
brista

A coworker of mine took a diamond ring to a jewelry shop. They appraised it at $250, but they don't buy jewelry. She took it to a jewelry shop that buys old jewelry. They offered her $25. She took it to a pawn shop. They offered her $20. She's still got the ring.

Personally, I'd just stick it on eBay.

Guest's picture
Paul

I actually own a pawn shop and I have a website in which we conduct gold parties around the country but we work off of referrals instead of spending millions on advertising. I am not here to promote our company but I thought maybe I could add some insight to the discussion.

Pawn Shops have to do a tremendous amount of paper work to prevent us from taking in stolen material. We have to put in full descriptions of the items and in some cases we even take a picture of the item. We also have to have the persons id and all the information from it and we finger print each person.
We then download that information to a database for the police department so they can search all of our transactions for anything that might have been stolen. We have to hold items for a minimum of 30 days so the police have time to find anything that may be stolen. If something ends up in our store a victim has a chance to get their property back. If it is sent to some of these companies they are not following the law and probably melt it within days. With our company we have strict guidelines in place to hold everything and do the same paper work as a pawn shop is required to do because I have dealt with victims of theft and have been one myself so I make sure we do everything the right way without cutting corners.

I know some have said that pawn shops don't pay fairly but that is not true. We have to wait 30 days until we can do anything so we have to make sure we account for fluctuations in the spot gold price. Gold prices can rise or fall a considerable amount within 30 days. With that in mind I know we pay more in our store than any of the online places because we did tests when they first started becoming popular. We sent in packages to 5 different online companies and we were paying about 6 dollars more per (dwt) penny weight than they were. For the most infamous company that is all over TV we were paying about $10 more per dwt.

We started doing gold parties locally for a few friends and family and it started growing and now we do them all over the country because we treat people fairly and test it right in front of them and agree on a price. We added the capability for referrals to send in gold because people asked for it. We only work off of referrals for our gold parties and online so we can pay more because we don't spend millions on advertising like some do.

I know some people may think I am advertising our company but I haven't even mentioned the name of our company. I just wanted people to know there are people who are fair and treat people with respect. I think that it is important to have companies that are able to help individuals in these tough economic times but I think many are just taking advantage of desperate people. If someone is thinking of selling their gold they should do their home work and get a few offers from different sources and see which one would best fit their specific needs.

Thanks for letting me add my two cents

Guest's picture
DrBurst

Paying for ad space on a negative post. Click it, make them pay you for the bad review. LOL

http://www.freeimagehosting.net/image.php?2945ff4af3.png

Guest's picture

Caveat emptor. Do research. It's just people are either too busy or too lazy to even worry about the real worth of their gold. Or financial desperation perhaps? Some people just want quick cash and sadly, those bastards prey on them.

Tom

Guest's picture
fathersez

I am surprised people actually put gold in envelopes and post it to some guy to tell them the value. This already sounds dangerous.

Perhaps like Roman commented above, Cash4Gold must be the most organized fence for stolen goods in town.

Guest's picture
Joel Thiese Sr.Joel

I have not tried to use cash 4 gold. but i do know that alot of these companies that advertise that claim to reduce your credit card babts and stuff like that are a scam. Dont fall for television ads, radio ads or ads that find their way to your e-mail. (I experienced this personally). Before getting into something like that, deal with local folks first. Maybe go to a GOOD jeweler downtown and have your jewelry appraised and take their advice on how to sell it. Then maybe sell it on ebay as well.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just the fact the jewelry send could be stolen, and the whole operation could be used for laundering money, should attract the law's attention. The fact the packages travel across state lines should make it FBI's jurisdiction. Has anyone called the feds yet?

Guest's picture
cash4gold

My goal is to file a class action law suit against this company. Anyone in???

Guest's picture
Nycole Armon

Although the last comment was over 6 months ago, I feel this is still relevant. I had a ring I wanted to sell, but first looked online to find the equation (converting dwt to troy ounce to find the accurate price considering the day's gold price). Most people forget the fact that jewelry stores GREATLY inflate prices. If you actually do the equation, the amount you get is far smaller than the original price paid for the jewelry. There's a basic equation, and then if your gold is impure (aka less than 24k) then there's more to the equation.

I knew the dwt for my wedding ring, so I used that as an example in the equation since the ring I was selling physically felt lighter than my wedding ring. At least then I'd have an approximate idea, even though I knew I'd get less for the sale ring. I took the ring I was selling to Mister Money and they actually paid me MORE than the amount I estimated based on the equation results. I got $90 for ONE RING. It was 10k yellow gold and was a rather thin band.

I took a gander at their jewelry display and noticed that most of the gold rings they were selling were only priced at around $150...so they only profit around $40. Needless to say, I'm happy with the results.

Moral of my comment: go online & find the equation. Do the math yourself & you'll see what your gold is really worth (approximately). Too many people expect to get 50%+ back from the original purchase. In that case, they really don't understand the jewelry industry.

P.S. I've always been skeptical of Cash4Gold and others like them. Going somewhere local where you can negotiate in person is always best. And sorry for the rather long comment :) I've been lurking WiseBread for some time & finally felt compelled to post a comment.