The concept is simple: You request an insured envelope from Cash4Gold; place your gold, silver or platinum jewelry in the mail and wait for a check or electronic payment. Unfortunately, credible review organizations say it doesn't always work that smoothly. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has collected hundreds of consumer complaints about Cash4Gold.
"There appears to be a serious problem with packages sent to Cash4Gold not being received," the BBB states. Cash4Gold includes $100 mail insurance with its prepaid envelope -- $500 if you use FedEx -- but if you send items worth more than that, the BBB recommends buying your own mail insurance and using a courier service with delivery confirmation.
When a reporter for KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah, tested Cash4Gold by sending $60 worth of gold jewelry, Cash4Gold offers just $9.58 for the shipment. "Good Morning America" conducted a similar experiment; Cash4Gold offered $66.05 for $410 worth of gold. In both cases, local gold buyers offered far more for the same gold, much closer to market value. In the "Good Morning America" test, Cash4Gold doubles its offer when the reporter asks for her jewelry back. ConsumerReports.org says its test yielded similar low offers from the three gold-redemption companies it tested, including Cash4Gold.
Cash4Gold says it will return items to customers who reject the payment as too low -- but only if you request the return within 12 days of the date Cash4Gold issues its check. If you select direct deposit instead of a check, you waive the return policy.
Credible broadcast and print sources have evaluated Cash4Gold. ConsumerReports.org and "Inside Edition" both conduct tests by sending pre-appraised gold to Cash4Gold and documenting the resulting offers. ABC's "Good Morning America" and several other TV stations do the same. The Better Business Bureau's website provides a clear summary of customer complaints. ComplaintsBoard.com posts dozens of complaints, but there is no way of verifying that the complaints are all written by real consumers. The Consumerist, a blog affiliated with the not-for-profit Consumers Union (publisher of ConsumerReports.org), includes a post by a fired Cash4Gold employee alleging that the company is a scam -- along with a lawsuit filed by Cash4Gold in response and a follow-up investigative article that supports the former employee's claims.
In this review, ConsumerReports.org editors send identical pieces of gold jewelry to several different online gold-redemption companies (including Cash4Gold) and compare payments to local jewelry store and pawn-shop prices. All the cash-for-gold companies offer far less money than the local options. ConsumerReports.org offers helpful tips for avoiding getting scammed when selling gold.
Review: Cashing in Gold? Here's the Catch, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Nov. 2009
2. Better Business Bureau
This page summarizes the hundreds of complaints the Better Business Bureau has received about Cash4Gold. They give the Florida-based Cash4Gold a C rating, which is up from a D-minus it received in 2009. The BBB has revoked Cash4Gold's membership in the Bureau, as well.
Review: BBB Reliability Report for Cash 4 Gold, Editors of Better Business Bureau
3. Good Morning America
"Good Morning America" tests three mail-in gold companies by sending $350 worth of gold. Cash4Gold offers the lowest price: $66.05. When the journalists ask for their gold back, Cash4Gold doubles the offer. This article provides a wealth of advice for consumers considering selling their gold to a mail-in company.
Review: Gold Rush: People Rush to Sell Gold Instead of Finding It, Elisabeth Leamy and Vanessa Weber, March 20, 2009
4. Inside Edition
Syndicated TV newsmagazine "Inside Edition" conducts an investigative report, sending gold valued at around $1,000 to Cash4Gold. They receive an offer of around $200, which is doubled to $400 when they call to get the pieces back.
Review: Cash4Gold's Superbowl Ad, Editors of Inside Edition, Feb. 4, 2009
5. KSL (Salt Lake City, Utah)
A reporter at this NBC affiliate conducts an investigation of mail-in gold companies, similar to the one later conducted by "Good Morning America." She sends $60 worth of gold to Cash4Gold and is offered $9.58 in return. Like the "Good Morning America" reporters, this reviewer gets a better offer from a local buyer, and she offers a list of tips for consumers.
Review: KSL Investigation: Putting Money-for-Gold Offers to the Test, Debbie Dujanovic, March 5, 2009
After publishing its "10 Confessions of a Cash4Gold Employee" article, Consumerist.com (whose parent company is a subsidiary of Consumers Union, publisher of ConsumerReports.org) publishes this investigative article on Cash4Gold's business practices, sending in gold after having it appraised. All the mail-in gold companies offered amounts lower than market value, but Cash4Gold's was "the lowest amounts of any firm."
Review: The Article Cash4Gold Doesn't Want You To Read, Ben Popken, Sept. 2, 2009
The Consumerist.com blog publishes this post from a former employee of Cash4Gold, outlining the various steps in what the former worker describes as the "Cash 4 Gold Scam." Cash4Gold filed a defamation lawsuit against this former employee and Consumerist.com posted a long feature investigative article backing up the employee's claims. Both are linked here.
Review: 10 Confessions of a Cash4Gold Employee, Ben Popken, Feb. 2, 2009
This website posts dozens of complaints written by consumers say they were ripped off by Cash4Gold, although there is no way to confirm their complaints. Posts include the original fired-employee posting (discussed in the above review) and a response from Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson.
Review: Cash4Gold Complaints, Contributors to ComplaintsBoard.com