By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Gold prices are at all time highs and the commercials offering us cash for our old jewelry can be so tempting. But, do they deliver what they promise and how do you know if you're getting the best price? The News On 6 decided to put a popular gold buying Internet site to the test.
Crime Reporter Lori Fullbright went through her jewelry box and found some old gold chains. She took them to a reputable gold dealer in Tulsa to find out their value. She then mailed them to Cash4Gold.com.
Tulsa Gold and Gems is a family owned business that has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They are licensed to deal in precious metals, have graduate gemologists who do not work on commission and they are the only Tulsa company that publically posts what they pay.
The price of gold changes minute by minute, just like the stock market. The record price for gold is $1,000 an ounce. On the day Tulsa Gold and Gems evaluated Fullbright's gold it was $954.
"It's all based on purity and weight. Ten carat is 41% percent pure, where 18 carat is 75% pure. The higher the carat, the more you're going to get. The higher the weight, the more you're going to get," said Spencer Fisher with Tulsa Gold and Gems.
First, they did a scratch test to get a sample of the gold, and then an acid test to check the purity.
"If it fades out or disappears, a sign it's not solid gold, but this is 14 carat, excellent," said Ryan with Tulsa Gold and Gems.
Because gold is not magnetic, he also uses a magnet. That tells him that necklace is not pure gold and I won't be paid for it.
In the end, Fullbright still gets a nice bit of change for her old, tangled jewelry, $277.
Next, The News On 6 went on the Cash4Gold.com website and requested a pre-paid envelope. They are not a member of the Better Business Bureau because they have a D-rating, F being the lowest.
Customers have filed 367 complaints against the company.
"When you realize what other customer experiences have been, you can pretty much bet yours is going to be the same when you see this volume of complaints," said Rick Brinkley with the Tulsa Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau says there are three top complaints.
On June 17th, Fullbright put her jewelry into the Cash4Gold.com envelope and tossed it in the mail. The company's website says to allow seven to 10 days for them to receive the jewelry and then they'll send a check.
After 14 days, the company said it had not received the package. They told The News On 6 it looked to be lost in the mail and said they would send an insurance claim form.
They insure each package for $100, so that's what Fullbright will be paid.
Cash4Gold.com said they felt their D rating didn't match their level of customer service. They say out of 800,000 transactions, 367 complaints is less than 1%, but they are concerned about each complaint and they work toward resolutions.
They say less than 1% of the packages get lost in transit.
****Statement by Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson
Cash4Gold Chief Executive Officer Jeff Aronson, one of the nation's leading experts in precious metals processing, understands that the gold market is complex and applauds any efforts to educate consumers about the gold-buying industry.
Cash4Gold has transformed a centuries-old industry by creating a fast, secure and confidential service that empowers consumers to monetize unwanted jewelry. Since it launched, Cash4Gold has conducted 800,000 transactions and more than 93% of its customers accept the company's offers and cash their checks.
Cash4Gold provides a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. If a customer doesn't like the offer from Cash4Gold, he or she can call or e-mail within 12 days and have the jewelry returned at no cost, essentially providing him/her with a free appraisal.
Customer care is Cash4Gold's highest priority and the company constantly strives to improve its service. Cash4Gold provides free shipping to our customers, insuring every pack for up to $100 at no cost to the consumer. We urge customers to buy additional insurance if they believe the items they are sending to us exceed that value.
We also accept packages from customers who use private shipping companies such as UPS, which insures their packages for up to $500. We provide free shipping via UPS to our customers, who can use the Cash4Gold website to print UPS shipping labels.
Cash4Gold is proud of its commitment to providing top-notch service, and we look forward to serving customers who wish to sell their jewelry in a manner that is simple, convenient, speedy, secure, confidential and 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.
Here are answers to the specific questions that you e-mailed:
What is the company's response to its D rating with the Better Business Bureau and the more than 300 complaints registered by consumers?
Cash4Gold does not agree with our current BBB rating and feels it does not reflect the high quality of our services. We have received a miniscule number of complaints with the BBB, which represent less than 1/20 of 1% of our company's transactions. We are pleased to be working closely with our local BBB to develop ways to more adequately measure and reflect our performance.
One of those complaints was the company says it never received your package. That appears to have happened in my case also. How often does that occur and what is the protocol if it does.
The number of times that a customer's jewelry is lost in the mail by the U.S. Postal Service represents a minute fraction of Cash4Gold's business-it happens far less than 1 percent of the time. We have seen instances where packages seemingly lost in the mail have arrived late, so we certainly hope that your package will reach our processing facility.
In those rare instances where packages never reach Cash4Gold, we assist our customers in making insurance claims. We send out an insurance claim form for the customer to complete and to which he/she must attach a copy of his/her personal identification (i.e. driver's license or government-issued ID.) The process is extremely user-friendly, and claims are typically processed within one week.
The other two complaints were the people called within the allotted 12 days to reject the check offer, but were told the gold had already been melted and they got the check more than the 12 days after they sent in their items, so they couldn't reject the offer... responses to those complaints?
There are only a handful of times where people have contacted Cash4Gold to have their items returned and the items have been mistakenly melted. We have rigorous, multi-step processes in place to make sure that this does not happen to any of the millions of pieces of jewelry we have on our processing floor at any given time.
Cash4Gold strives to have a perfect track record, but we do have 300 people working here, people are not perfect, and sometimes they do make mistakes. Whenever a mistake has occurred, we have assumed responsibility for the error and worked closely with the customer to resolve the situation to his/her greatest possible satisfaction.
All checks sent out to our customers are mailed the same day that the checks are cut. We hold all items for a full 12 days after the items are processed and the checks are mailed out, and any customer who contacts us during that time period asking for his/her items to be returned is able to get their items back free of charge. This is another unique benefit for using Cash4Gold's services-once you have sold your items to a jewelry store or a pawnshop you cannot get them back.
In some instances, customers have sent items to Cash4Gold and not been home during the 12-day period that follows to receive their checks and possibly request the return of their items. That is obviously outside of our control.
Anything else the company wants to say about how it conducts business?
(This question was addressed in the first paragraphs before the responses to your specific questions.)
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