Coin advertisements from U.S. Money Reserve may mislead buyers

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This ad appeared in the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.

A Texas-based coin seller claims to be authorized by Congress to sell for a limited-time $5 American Eagle Gold to the public, official United States government gold at cost.

What’s it mean? Coin collector ads may be misleading if  you don’t read the fine print. The Austin, Texas-based U.S. Money Reserve advertisement appearing in Wednesday’s (Sept. 18, 2013) includes fine print.

Better Business Bureau first contacted this company in February 2011 regarding its print advertisements appearing in the St. Louis Post and the Cincinnati Enquirer. BBB also questioned claims on the company’s website, www.usmoneyreserve.com. As a result of this review the company has agreed to modify or discontinue some claims.

However, as of March 2013, some advertising concerns remain outstanding. Specifically, the general layout of this company’s U.S Gov’t $5 Gold Eagle Coins “at cost” advertisements could imply an affiliation with the U.S. Government. The company’s print ads mentions of “Congress Public Law 99-185.” The advertisements do include a fine print disclaimer indicating the company is not affiliated with the government or U.S. Mint. BBB requested the company make the disclaimer more prominent and easy to read and further requested the company discontinue the use of the illustration.

The company responded by stating it believes the disclaimers are understandable and readable to the normal customer and stated that it would not discontinue the illustrations or modify the layout. BBB remains concerned that the overall layout or impression of the printed advertisement could imply some affiliation with the U.S. Government.

BBB Code of Advertising states that time limit sales and price-reduction offers should be rigidly observed. BBB requested that the company clarify whether or not this offer was temporary, final or ongoing as the offer appeared regularly in the company’s advertising. The company responded by stating that the offer is for new, current-year bullions at the company’s current at-cost price. The company further stated that the “final release” referred to in the advertisement is the final release of the coins at the stated price.

BBB requested the company clarify its advertising to make it clear that the “limited time” referred to the current at-cost price and to discontinue claiming “final release” unless there was a sincere and imminent possibility that the opportunity to purchase coins at cost would not be offered again. The company’s Sept. 18, 2013, “U.S Gov’t Gold Eagle Immediate at-Cost Release”advertisement in the Idaho Statesman shows claims have been modified.

Read more about this company here.

BBB offers the following tips when ordering coins and currency through the mail:

  • Read all advertising and marketing materials carefully to understand exactly what you will be receiving.  If you have any questions, ask the company directly.
  • Be wary of words that show that an item is valuable or will increase in value. There are no guarantees on the appreciation of coins or other collectibles.
  • Make sure you understand any extra fees such as processing or mailing costs.
  • Make sure you understand the company’s refund policy if you are not satisfied.
  • Compare prices online or with a local coin dealer.
  • Pay by credit card when possible in case you want to challenge the purchase.
  • Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or at 208-342-4649.

Business at its Best, a television show produced by BBB serving the Snake River Region, talked about the qualities of dealing with a local coin dealer when buying or selling coins..

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1 Comment

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One response to “Coin advertisements from U.S. Money Reserve may mislead buyers

  1. Mark Burrows

    As children, we were easily swayed by such advertising because we were novices in the world of collecting such things as coins, stamps, and even trading cards. Grab bags were truly the treasure chests for the beginners as they start to fill their books. Yet we all learn by this experience that after awhile the grab bag concept no longer has appeal because all you are getting is duplications of what you already have. You have learned that this concept is no longer valid. Your next step if you wish to continue as a collector is to locate shops in your area and look to see what they have. You will discover some of the prizes that will fill those empty slots that have been annoying you. They do come at a higher price. Here is where it is where you MUST learn the rarity and value system and commit it to memory. If a shop is selling some items that are moderately rare, and not too expensive, I would suggest buying them all. Yes, of course you fill your slots in your collection but you are also purchasing trade and selling power. The extra rare pieces come in handy when negotiating for more rare item at other shops and of course the collectors shows that come around.
    If you are an adult, you really should know better than to caught up in purchasing the unknown just because their MIGHT be a prize inside.
    Like when I was a child and cereals had prizes in them and even though I hated the cereal, I would suffer through it to try and get one of the four prizes that was without a doubt the most amazing. Well lots of horrid cereal later and lots of the other three prizes I never achieved the ultimate goal.
    Is there a lesson there? Of course there is. Anyone who fails to see the rational, logical, and obvious pattern here, is a dreamer. Dreamers are the people that get targeted because dreamers believe that there is a pot at the end of the rainbow. Dreamers believe they have a system to win the lottery. Dreamers believe they can strike it rich by helping some banker in Nigeria give them money from a wealthy deceased person with no relative.
    Time to wake up dreamers and first make the coffee before you smell it, because it doesn’t make itself while you were dreaming.
    Now, I’ve let off some steam. Let me pick apart the advertising. It is simple as an oxymoron. The Vault Bags are full of rarely seen coins. Bags and rare coins are completely opposite. What they are may not be coins you find in your change from the convenient store, but they are in abundance that collectors only wish that there were not so many in circulation. The fact that they are in such high circulation gives them nothing more than face value unless of course they are truly in mint condition, which you will never find in any kind of a grab bag.
    Go to local shops, and please go to collector shows that is where you really learn values of rare items and can often buy or trade better deals than your local collector shop. That gives you better selling and trading options with the local shop. Yes, it is true that the shop owners go to these large trade fairs and shows, but their main interest is buying supplies such as collector’s books, display devices for you valuables, and other things to keep your collection safe and attractive. This is where they really make their profit, the accessories. The shows are where all the wholesalers attend as well. Sure they sell to the public there, but you can not constantly attend shows and fairs, so you must depend on your local shop, and if you are a regular, they are always willing to haggle. If you are truly a treasure hunter, hit the estate sales and auctions, things like coins and stamps are always sold off and if they are doing a quick sale, they only guess at the value. Even flea markets have provided amazing results as people who sell anything will display old coins that were in a box in their grandfather’s room. To them all they know is that they are old, but rarely do they know the true value. If they are overpriced, use your knowledge as a collector to point out where the coin has depreciated because of the condition and is not as valuable as they claim. They will often sell. You can go home, take out your cleaning and restoration kit and carefully bring life back to your prize. Of course, this is more difficult with stamps and trading cards, but not impossible to give them a bit of zeal.
    In summary, grab bags are great for children who are just starting out in the world of collecting, but that’s all. If they stick with collecting they will mature much faster and learn a sense of pride and responsibility. They will also learn the business end of being a collector. I can personally assure you, when they maintain their collection, you will never find them purchasing a grab bag anymore, the idea as a mature collector would be laughable. Now, if you are an adult and a novice at collecting, then also avoid the grab bag, create a relationship with a shop owner, and let them guide you into being a collector.

    Mark Burrows

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