Cash4Gold: A King Among Predators
(STEPHEN C. WEBSTER)
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country: corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed
I struggled for hours trying to create an intro paragraph for all the awful thoughts predatory wealth usurper “Cash4Gold” stirs up in me, but ole’ Honest Abe said it best. And while I’ve been familiar with the above quote for years, I always doubted that we had truly reached that point.
After seeing the new Cash4Gold ad during last night’s Colbert Report, I finally accepted that Lincoln was right and we have indeed arrived. This ad, which promises the “end” to your “personal recession,” was the straw that broke my doubtful camel’s back. It just about made me puke.
Watch (and turn up your volume):
Yes, that’s right: send in your gold, the one thing you own that is actually worth something, and we’ll give you a few pieces of paper. And not just that, our service is so wonderful and convenient, you’ll be happy for a full 12 days– GAR-UN-TEE’D!
Note how the commercial is set up vaguely similar to a news program, with a professional-looking man bearing catchy graphics over his left shoulder. That’s what first struck me, apart from their recession rhetoric.
I guess what perturbs me the most is how obviously exploitative this tripe is. Perhaps they were counting on reaching those with no access to the Internet, because a few simple-yet-targeted Google queries is enough to turn up an unreasonable amount of dirt on this company … As if the Better Business Bureau’s warning to “use caution” when dealing with them isn’t enough.
Moreso, I am completely aghast at their timing, hitting below the belt now, amid the so-called “Great” recession. More than 17 percent of our workers are unemployed, and these assholes are vying for the last bit of wealth those families have.
If you want to get an idea of how they operate, all it takes is a quick glance at ComplaintsBoard.com, where 234 unique commentaries have been dedicated to Cash4Gold.
Most of the complaints center around shockingly low offers. Many potential clients sent in gold worth hundreds of dollars, only to be offered pennies on the dollar. One poor guy even claimed he sent in seemingly valuable jewelry, only to get a check for six cents!
Interestingly, the first Complaints Board comment — “Cash 4 Gold is a SCAM CONFIRMED” — was removed by the Web site’s administrators “for several reasons.” But “several” hardly tells the tale. It’s more like 10: all of them, the confessions of a former employee who saw first hand how their scam “operation” is run. The company sued over that entry, then sued The Consumerist when they investigated the claims.
First, a client requests a pouch for their jewelry, which is then stamped with their name and mailed forthwith. An insurance policy of up to $100 is issued for the jewelry-in-transit, based upon a verbal description of the product. Finally, the company mails back a check bearing their offer amount. If the check is cashed, the gold is smelted and sold, presumably at market value.
In a disturbingly friendly interview with Bloomberg television, the company’s CEO called Cash4Gold a “disruptive technology” and compared it to Netflix.
Shuddering yet? Your desperate countrymen are being goaded to give up their only objects of true value in exchange for a pittance of paper worth practically nothing. Yeah, “disruptive” is just the half of it.
Cash4Gold is also in the midst of defending against a class action lawsuit that is open to any customer who can prove they were harmed by the company between Oct. 6, 2003 and Oct. 6, 2009.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that Cash4Gold’s “unlawful behavior can be distilled down to three specific frauds.”
First, according to court papers, Cash4Gold promises to provide the highest care for any goods sent to its facility, a promise asserted in two sections on the company’s Web site.
“However, this high degree of care is a lie, as items sent to Cash4Gold are commonly ‘lost,’” the suit alleges. “At best, this means that Cash4Gold is not exercising the high degree of care it has promised and is liable for negligence. At worst, this means that Cash4Gold is intentionally stealing the goods sent to it and is liable for conversion.”
The second alleged example of fraud outlined in the suit involves Cash4Gold’s 12-day return policy, which asserts that customers who are unsatisfied with the price offered to them for their gold jewelry may contact Cash4Gold and have their jewelry returned to them.
“However, this ‘return policy’ is a lie,” the lawsuit alleges. “Importantly, it is measured from the date on the check sent to consumers. Then Cash4Gold, as a matter of company policy or practice, routinely issues the checks, sets them aside, and mails them out days later so that customers do not receive their checks until after the 12-day return window has already passed . . . customers are simply unable to reject Cash4Gold’s offer or to have their jewelry returned to them. In fact, in many cases, Cash4Gold actually melts down jewelry before the ‘return period’ has even passed, since it knows that due to its mailing schedule, customers literally have no way to successfully exercise the ‘return policy.’”
Third, the suit states that “to support and disguise the two major frauds of stealing customers’ jewelry and completely fabricating the existence of a return policy, Cash4Gold utilizes a ‘customer service’ staff which is deliberately frustrating and openly lies to the company’s customers.”
The suit claims that Cash4Gold’s customer service representatives are specially trained in techniques designed to mislead consumers.
The company naturally kicks dirt on the claims, but it cannot reasonably argue that a pattern of bad press has not emerged.
Even Good Morning America shit on Cash4Gold, and you know you fucked up when Diane Sawyer dumps on your doorstep.
Considering the warnings we’ve heard recently that planet Earth’s gold supplies are at a tipping point, I’m afraid the market for predatory companies like this will only grow.
Honest Abe’s age-old warning rings hauntingly true today. A company like Cash4Gold just strikes me as a symptom of that greater sickness.
People, please don’t give up your gold for mere paper. The U.S. dollar is backed by faith and the worth of our military hardware — and that’s IT. Gold is a true global currency and much more valuable than the decorated cotton strips Cash4Gold offers. Think about it: if you were thirsty and I took your dry canteen in exchange for a lap of water from my garden hose, I would ultimately be harming you.
If you absolutely must trade your gold for Federal Reserve notes, at least go to the local pawn shop — it’s still a rip off, but you’re almost guaranteed to get a better deal.
Update: A commenter on Reddit alerted me to an even more insidious plot lurking on the Interwebs: Cats4Gold, currently offering “25% more cats than leading refineries.” Hm … On second thought, that may be something I could wholeheartedly endorse.