Sick of burning desperate customers by paying bottom-dollar for gold — and tired of being burned by an employer who allegedly let them write checks the company knew would bounce — a pair of former buyers for one of the country’s largest gold-buying operations are pulling back the curtain on the tactics they were told to use when dealing with customers.
One former buyer tells CBS San Francisco that employees would just flat-out lie about the quality of a customer’s gold to get it for the lowest price.
“I think a lot of managers did think it was ok to lie,” she tells the reporter.
She says a lot of the pressure came from the company’s CEO who would watch employees via remote cameras or send in secret shoppers to test them.
“You just never knew when they would be watching you through your computer,” she recalls. “And [the CEO], he would just snap and go off on people.”
She says employees were told to offer less than 10% of the actual value for customer’s gold and received bonuses based on how little they paid for the gold. CBS has confirmed this with a company buying guide.
Another former buyer talks about the practice of lot buying, where employees offer a lump sum for a group of items. Doing so gives the appearance that there are no individual items of high value in the lot.
He also says that once buyers’ checks started bouncing, the company ordered buyers to start sending all the purchased gold back to company HQ, even though California law requires that any gold bought at a roadshow be kept in the county where it was purchased for 30 days.
“I called my District Manager and said ‘So they’re asking me to break the law in California to ship this stuff out of state before the 30 day hold is up?'” he recalls. “And he goes, ‘Well when you put it that way then yes.'”
Several CBS affiliates around the country recently took part in a concerted investigation into these traveling gold buyers. The station in Dallas caught buyers on camera claiming that the gold they were looking at was 14 karat, when the station had already confirmed independently that it was 18 karat.