Golden payday


POSTED: Monday, September 07, 2009

So you've got a pile of gold trinkets at the bottom of a drawer somewhere, stuff you inherited from your great-grandmother that you'll probably never wear. Or you've got jewelry that was sentimental, but lost its charm after a breakup.

Then you see the glitzy cash-for-gold commercials that come on TV late at night, urging you to simply put this jewelry in an envelope, mail it in and get a check.

Cash 4 Gold (Cash4Gold.com) is one of the most frequent ads on TV, followed by Out of Your Life (http://www.outofyourlife.com), which targets women who have leftover jewelry from exes.

Cash4Gold offers a prepaid secure envelope with a sealed plastic bag, and says the check will come within days. You also can opt for the Cash4Today payment direct to your account, but then you also must agree to waive the 12-day return policy.

Out of Your Life offers to send a “;BreakUp Box”; for free in exchange for a check and an opportunity to wipe your slate clean of the ex. If customers are not satisfied, the company says to call an 800 number within 10 days of the date on the check for a return.




The BBB issues the following tips:

» Don't pay advance fees. Stay away from buyers who quote high prices for gold and then instruct you to send the items to an “;escrow service”; or require an advance fee payment through a wire service.


» Beware of cash offers made over the phone or online. Reputable buyers need to see the piece to determine its value.


» Don't mail it. Putting gold in an envelope and mailing it is neither secure nor insured.


» Deal with a local business. Honolulu is home to several fine-jewelry retailers as well as specialists that will test the gold and give you the cash price offer, face to face.


» Know your karats. Do your homework and know how many karats (or carats) you're cashing in. Also, determine whether the jewelry has value as a whole and not just for its scrap value. Ask the dealer questions about how he or she determined the value.


» Know the price of gold on the market. Research the price of gold per ounce on the market to get the best price for the day. The higher the quote, the more you should get in cash that day.





Here's the deal: Before you send off your valuable jewelry in an envelope, you'd better check out the company with the Better Business Bureau first. You also might want to opt for a store or dealer you can visit in person, so you can watch them test your jewelry, ask questions and get the cash in person.

Shopping around is also a good idea to see which dealer offers you the most cash for your jewelry. Don't go with the first offer you get. Anyone buying jewelry from you should have a secondhand dealer's license from the county.

If you've just broken off an engagement, the rightful owner of the diamond ring can become a matter of debate.

Family attorney William Darrah said before a legal marriage, the ownership of the ring is kind of a delicate, gray area to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

It depends on who has the paperwork to prove it belongs to her or him. It depends on whether the item was given as a gift, and the intention when it was given (was it simply given to hold awhile, with a condition attached?).

After a marriage, however, she presumably owns the ring.

Here's the common cash-for-gold-through-the-mail setup, according to the Better Business Bureau. The company sends you an insured envelope to mail in unwanted jewelry and sends a check for the scrap value of the gold.

But say you're not satisfied with the amount they offer. You let them know and end up waiting for them to send back your jewelry—and wait, and wait.

Usually the company has a deadline by which you must tell them you want your jewelry back, and some consumers have reported that by the time their check arrived in the mail, it was too late.

In other cases it really was too late because the jewelry already was sent to a refinery and melted down. Not all online businesses are bad, but complaints range from pricing discrepancies to claims for lost shipments.