How Using Proper Etiquette with a Coin Dealer Can Improve Your Experience
The coin and bullion industry has been inundated as of late with individuals concerned about the stability of the financial markets. Many of our customers are brand new to the precious metals and coin dealer industry and are doing their best to diversify out of the banking system for fear of losing their money – or at least deposits of over $250,000.
At the time of this writing, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which is woefully underinsured, as we discussed in a prior article, in theory provides insurance for up to the first $250,000 of deposits. However, considering the FDIC only has $125 billion in assets to cover $9 – $10 trillion in FDIC insured deposits and total bank deposits (including insured and non-insured) are approximately $18 trillion, it’s clear that the FDIC will need a bailout or an injection of funds.
Hard assets, such as gold and silver coins and bullion are historically safe haven investments, as individuals seek safety and quality during uncertain times. You don’t get much more secure than gold and silver, as they’ve been used as money for thousands of years, can’t be magically produced with a push of a button, and will likely continue to endure as money for the foreseeable future.
Circling back to our original comments, we have seen many new folks enter the precious metals field, and while some individuals intuitively suspect that there’s a certain etiquette or protocol to follow when meeting with a coin dealer, you might be hard pressed to find any written guidelines. We thought it would be helpful to share some “do’s and don’ts” to help improve your experience and to start your relationship off on the right foot.
Don’t Touch Coins with Your Bare Hands
One thing that makes all coin dealers cringe is when customers turn over a tube of coins, shake them out and begin handling them. Many of the coins offered by coin dealers are mint direct coins versus secondary market coins. This means that human hands haven’t touched the coins since they were shipped out from the mint. These coins generally are in pristine condition and look like they could have come off the mint floor yesterday.
Handling coins transfers oil, dirt, lotion etc. from your hands to the coins, and while not obvious immediately (in most cases), touching the coins will in time cause evidence of toning, tarnishing, fingerprints, handling, etc., thus reducing their value. Also important to remember is cleaning coins is a big ‘no-no’. Doing so will always do more harm to the total value of a coin than if you had just left it how it was. We went into a bit more detail on proper coin handling in a previous article as well.
Of course, if the coins are already in individual capsules, 2×2 cardboard holders or mylar flips, they’re protected and there’s no risk of damaging the coins.
If you’re interested in viewing raw coins in more detail, it’s best to let the coin dealer handle them, as they have years of experience and can prevent damage from occurring. In some cases, depending on the type of coins and value, you may request a spare pair of gloves so that you can handle the coins yourself. Even then, it’s important to establish some parameters with respect to handling the coins. For example, many coins are damaged when customers drop them back into tubes. There’s a bit of a science involved in removing and placing the coins back in the tubes without causing handling or contact marks. Also, as a general rule, coins should only be handled on the edge or rim of the coin.
Of course, once you purchase the coins, you’re more than welcome to do whatever you’d like with them, but keep in mind that improper handling could affect the value of your coins when the time comes to sell. If you have any questions on the proper handling and/or storage of the coins, don’t hesitate to ask your local coin dealer.
Don’t Test Every Coin that You Purchase
We’ve all seen articles, YouTube videos, TikTok videos, etc. about fake, replica or counterfeit coins and the prevalence of them in the marketplace. While we can attest that we on occasion customers attempt to sell us fake products, the frequency is few and far between.
For the most part, there’s not an overwhelming number of counterfeit items floating around the market, and even if additional fakes were to make their way to the market, an experienced coin dealer can usually spot them a mile away.
Like most coin dealers, we have and utilize an electronic precious metals verifier as a tool to help confirm the authenticity of all products that we buy. This ensures that we’re only selling our customers genuine merchandise. This is very important, as our industry is built on trust. Not only that, but in some cases, we’re dealing with items that are hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so there’s no room for error.
That being said, it’s not unreasonable to ask a coin dealer to test higher value coins and bullion, such as gold, platinum and palladium. Furthermore, it’s also reasonable to ask for a spot test of silver coins and rounds, but it’s generally not acceptable to ask or insist that all of the silver coins, bars or rounds that you’re purchasing, especially if a large amount, be tested.
There’s a reason for this.
It takes a considerable amount of time to test hundreds of items, which is time that most coin dealers don’t have. Especially now, considering the high demand for appointments. Again, a sampling of a coin or two from each tube is perfectly reasonable, but beyond that, it’s not proper etiquette. Keep in mind that when you purchase coins or bullion from an online dealer, there’s not an opportunity to test or inspect any of the items that you’re purchasing.
If you insist on testing every item that you purchase, then you should be prepared to compensate the coin dealer for his or her time. Keep in mind that coin dealers operate on thin margins and that time is money.
While on the surface, it may appear that a coin dealer has plenty of down time, this is not the case, as there’s a good bit of behind the scenes work that goes into operating a coin dealership.
At the end of the day, you should only do business with a coin dealer that you trust. Check their online ratings/reviews, status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), industry affiliations and years in the industry to reach a comfort level.
Keep in mind that unscrupulous dealers don’t last long in this industry, so if your coin dealer has been around for a decade or more, they’re probably safe to do business with and are trustworthy.
Be On Time and Show Up for Your Appointment
We live in metro Atlanta – we get it.
There’s always traffic and it’s tough to get anywhere any time of the day without encountering traffic, but it’s important that you do your best to be on time for your appointment. Like most other coin dealers, we’re in back-to-back appointments most days and set aside 30 minutes for each appointment – sometimes more if evaluating a large collection.
When customers show up late, it creates challenges and causes us to rearrange our schedule to try and accommodate the day’s appointments.
In some cases, this prevents us from seeing the next customer on time, which isn’t fair to them if they arrived on time. We want to be able to dedicate enough time with each customer so that they have a positive experience, which is difficult to do when we’re having to rush someone or rearrange our schedule.
If you need to, leave a bit early so that you arrive a few minutes before your scheduled appointment time. While your coin dealer may not be able to see you right away if you arrive early, they’ll be able to see you promptly at your scheduled time assuming that the last customer arrived on time.
Another issue is no-shows.
In most industries, if you don’t show up for your appointment, the professional charges you with a cancellation fee. This is common with doctors, dentists, attorneys and a host of other professional services. While most coin dealers won’t go so far as to charge you a cancellation penalty/fee, consider that the coin dealer could have been catering to another customer at that time had he or she known that you weren’t going to show for your appointment.
No shows are especially frustrating for a coin dealer if the person has reserved a coveted lunchtime appointment. Lunchtime appointments are the most requested, as most individuals work during the day and are only able to break away at lunch. Your coin dealer has inevitably passed on other business by setting aside time to meet with you, so please keep this in mind.
We get it – things happen and it’s not always possible to make your scheduled appointment. If that’s the case, please place a courtesy call as soon as you realize that you’re not able to make your appointment. A coin dealer won’t hold this against you. Rather, they’ll appreciate it, as it will free up their schedule to accommodate another person at that time.
Just don’t make a habit of scheduling and cancelling your appointment or being a no-show. We have personally had to “fire” customers who have consistently cancelled or failed to show for their appointments.
Be Respectful of a Coin Dealer’s Time
As we mentioned above, we do our best to set aside 30 minutes for each appointment, unless the appointment warrants additional time, such as for the purchase of an estate collection or the sale of a large number of items.
This is different from most other coin dealers, who will typically only spend a few minutes with their customers. We set aside a large block of time so that we’re able to answer questions, address concerns and to build and establish a rapport with our customers. We want your experience to be more than a transaction, but a time to grow and build on the relationship that we’ve established.
However, there’s a bit of a fine line. We ultimately have a business to run, so it’s not possible to spend an unlimited amount of time with each of our customers. While in many cases, we’re kindred spirits, and can agree that things are headed in the wrong direction, which is exactly why you’re purchasing precious metals in the first place, keep in mind that we have a good bit of customers to cater to.
As an example, a customer recently came in to purchase two tubes of American silver eagles and talked for an hour about all the problems in society, our financial system, economy, etc. before finally transferring the funds for his purchase. While we don’t want to be rude and cut people off, realize that coin dealers don’t have the capacity or staff to be able to dedicate this amount of time for a small transaction that should only take a few minutes.
Those individuals who are respectful of a coin dealer’s time, especially regular customers, receive a bit of preferred treatment. In cases where a little extra time is needed to answer questions and have a discussion, we’re more than happy to do so – especially for those individuals that help to make our company a success.
Coin Dealers Shouldn’t be your Only Educational Resource
In a way, this section is closely aligned with being respectful of a coin dealer’s time, it’s a bit different in that we are experiencing a host of new individuals to the field of gold and silver. These individuals inevitably have questions as first-time buyers, which we’re happy to accommodate, but keep in mind that unfortunately we don’t have the time to provide a thorough education on the topic.
Because we know that there are a number of new investors and that there’s a lot of conflicting information online, we spend hours every week writing articles attempting to address the most common questions that we receive. While it’s not possible to answer every question that prospective customers might have, we’ve written articles on a host of topics, which can be found on our blog.
We recommend that you start here to educate yourself on the various items and ways to invest in precious metals. You’ll likely have most of your questions answered after reading through the applicable articles on your topic and can fine tune your questions at the time of the appointment so that your time is spent most productively. There are other good online resources as well. The key is to do some advance research so you have a general idea of how you’d like to proceed.
In the past, we’ve had customers come in knowing nothing about the coin, bullion or precious metals industry and walk away after an hour and a half having all of their questions answered without conducting a transaction. In other words, they were just on a fact-finding mission. This will leave a bad taste in any coin dealer’s mouth and may limit your ability to do business with him or her in the future.
If you’re not an individual that likes to do your own research, or are still confused with the plethora of information available online, and would like to get things straight before making an investment, ask your local coin dealer if they’re willing to offer a paid consultation. The coin dealer will appreciate your transparency and may even waive a portion of the consult fee if you end up making a purchase.
This is a great way to start a relationship off on the right foot and will likely result in some preferred treatment down the road. As we’ve discussed in a previous article, there are many benefits in establishing a relationship with a local coin dealer.
In conclusion, we’ve covered a lot of ground today, so let’s take a step back and recap. We always recommend limiting the handling of coins, as the more they’re handled, the more likely they’ll show evidence of wear and tear. Keep in mind that many of the coins and bullion offered by a coin dealer have never been touched by human hands, so be respectful of the coin dealer’s merchandise and ask for permission before handling the items.
We realize that you’re purchasing high value items and want to ensure their authenticity. This is a valid concern and it’s not unreasonable to ask for your high value items to be tested. It’s also not unreasonable to ask for a sampling of some of the lower values items to be tested and verified. If you’re overly concerned about the authenticity of the items you’re purchasing locally, you might want to consider purchasing online.
Most of us probably grew up with parents who stressed the importance of being on time or following through with a commitment to be somewhere we’ve agreed to. Your coin dealer will appreciate you following through on your commitment, and while things occasionally happen that prevent you from being on time or showing for your appointment, please inform your coin dealer as soon as you have a scheduling conflict.
Speaking of being respectful, keep in mind that your coin dealer has a business to run and doesn’t have an inordinate amount of time to spend with each customer. While we personally like many of the individuals that we do business with and consider them friends, we do have some time constraints, so please try and keep that in mind.
Last, but not least, we fully expect new customers to have a number of questions, but try and do as much advance research as possible before your appointment. As we mentioned, our blog is a great resource for new and seasoned investors and collectors alike.
We’ve addressed most of the questions that we receive on a daily basis in one way or another. If you feel like you need an education, consider inquiring about a paid consultation. Your coin dealer will appreciate your honesty, and to the extent their schedule allows, will be happy to accommodate you.
The coin specialists at Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers appreciate our customers and hope that our article is taken in the proper context. However, with so many new customer entering the precious metals market, we thought it was an appropriate time to address these issues. Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell coins, bars, rounds or currency, we’re your one-stop shop.
Contact us today at 404-236-9744 to see why we’re the premier coin dealers in metro Atlanta and beyond.