Founded in 1986 by Peter Epstein under the name Seacoast Coin, Merit Gold was later officially formed in 1993 as a subsidiary company. Based in southern California, the company has two main offices located in Encino as well as Santa Monica.
Merit Gold has enjoyed a growing business, boasting an investor customer base of around 250,000 people in the U.S. The primary business objective of Merit Gold is buying and selling precious metals such as gold and silver, including transactions of precious metals for IRA investors.
The primary purpose for Merit Gold reviews is that of educating the potential investor with objective information as to the company’s attributes as well as any negative aspects that should be of concern to such investors.
Investing in Precious Metals
With economic uncertainties evident not only in the U.S., but also globally, investors are increasingly looking to acquire assets that not only have a proven track record of growth, but that also can withstand an economic crisis such as the recent Great Recession of 2008. Gold and silver are excellent choices for this type of investment, as well as for providing a hedge against inflation, market selloffs and other negative economic events.
The IRS now allows investors to structure their precious metals investments into IRAs that can be tax-sheltered until retirement, providing the IRAs meet minimum requirements and qualifications.
For instance, gold used to back an IRA must meet minimum purity requirements and be in a form that is approved by the IRS. Bullion is acceptable but some numismatic coins are not. It is for this reason that people who are looking to invest in this type of instrument know and understand the requirements, or at the very least partner with a precious metals trading company that understands the requirements and ensures compliance.
Positive Aspects of Merit Gold & Silver
Before listing some of the potential negative concerns, there are several positive aspects for Merit Gold review. For instance, the company’s longevity is a plus simply because it shows that it is not a “fly by night” company that may be here today and gone tomorrow.
When researching a company for a Merit Gold and Silver review such as this, one of the best starting places is that of the company’s own website. The site is easy to navigate, with an ample supply of solid information for the potential investor. They also supply market data in real-time, with useful information as to trends and market news.
Other resources were checked as well, including business and consumer reporting agencies such as the Better Business Bureau, TrustLink, Business Consumer Alliance (BCA), and other reporting web sites such as the “Rip Off Report”.
Better Business Bureau
At the time of this writing, a Merit Gold and Silver review is in process by the Better Business Bureau, and no ranking is available.
According to TrustLink, which is entirely comprised of consumer reviews and feedback, several clients provide positive Merit Gold reviews. Many of those who reported problems also reported that the problems were resolved in a timely manner. TrustLink grades Merit Gold & Silver with 5 out of 5 stars possible. There were several positive reviews posted by persons purported to be customers of Merit Gold.
Business Consumer Alliance
The Business Consumer Alliance gives a Merit Gold review and rating of AA, which is not the perfect AAA score possible, but is still considered to be a relatively high rating.
Negative Aspects of Merit Gold and Silver
Despite the positive aspects listed above, there are some very real negative aspects of Merit Gold & Silver of which potential investors should be aware. Perhaps the most important item to report is a lawsuit that has been filed against Merit Gold by the attorney who represents the City of Santa Monica. The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles and alleges that Merit Gold & Silver has engaged in an aggressive scheme to defraud U.S. consumers out of tens of millions of dollars.
According to the complaint, Merit Gold’s fraud scheme mainly targeted senior citizens by offering advertised specials that, upon first glance, were very attractive to potential new customers. The lawsuit goes on to allege that once these potential customers contacted Merit Gold to take advantage of the specials, they were subjected to strong and aggressive sales strategies, pushing them to purchase other products of less value at greater expense. This “bait and switch” tactic has resulted in significant losses by the customers for which the lawsuit seeks restitution and damages.
Merit Gold Web Site
While the company’s web site has positive attributes, as mentioned above, it also has some areas of concern. For one thing, Merit Gold’s fee schedule is not disclosed in any of the sections of the site. The site does encourage visitors to sign up for newsletters and other publications that contain “more information”, and these publications may disclose the fee schedule.
The website has a FAQ section that only discloses information about shipping costs and procedures. It does not discuss a fee schedule or address other questions that are commonly asked of companies such as this.
The Better Business Bureau
As mentioned in an earlier section, Merit Gold and Silver is currently under review by the Better Business Bureau and has no ranking or rating at this time. This may not necessarily be a negative attribute of Merit Gold, but it certainly should not be viewed as a positive one either, especially for a company that has been in business as long as Merit Gold & Silver.
Despite the positive reviews posted on TrustLink, one cannot help but notice that many of the reviews specifically name certain employees of Merit Gold as providing especially stellar service. Considering the fact that one can register with any name and e-mail address, it would not be difficult for these reviews to be concocted by the employees themselves in order to boost their own sales commissions. This speculation has been shared by other reviewers, but it should be stressed that this theory has not been substantiated or proven.
Business Consumer Alliance
The BCA is a highly regarded consumer reporting agency that rates Merit Gold with AA, rather than a perfect rating of AAA. A contributing factor to the lower rating is the large volume of Merit Gold complaints (49 within the past 3 years).
Most of the complaints registered with the BCA concerned late or missing shipments of precious metals purchased. Others objected to receiving gold products that were inferior in value when compared to the products represented to them at the time the sales were executed.
Rip Off Report
The Rip Off Report, which mainly serves as a whistleblower site for those who wish to report unscrupulous business practices, has several complaints lodged against Merit Gold, mainly citing the current lawsuit as well as others who say they have fallen victim to similar bait and switch tactics by the company.
Summing It All Up
When assimilating the data, there is no question that Merit Gold & Silver should be approached with caution. There are other companies with higher ratings, such as Regal Assets which has a virtually flawless record, no pending lawsuits that we could find and perfect ratings with the consumer reporting agencies listed above.
Regal Assets is the benchmark to which many other precious metals companies may be compared for adequacy.