5/2/06 UPDATE: This post was first published on 4/20/06 with a follow-up story yesterday called Free Piano. Today we took our offender’s real name off the blogs. We have the last of the money… almost. But here’s the thing: If you are thinking of buying or selling gold in Miami on South Dixie Highway where all the gold ‘n guns stores are located – or anywhere in the world for that matter – check out your guy pretty carefully. Or your life could be the hell ours has been.
If you are buying or selling gold and thinking of using GOLD GUYS’s [GG] South Dixie Highway store, STOP. Talk to us first. This is what we’ll tell you:
Around Thanksgiving ’05, after months with no income, we decided to cash in some gold. Hal found GG in the Yellow Pages, got a good quote over the phone, drove to the store in Miami on South Dixie Highway, tucked in amongst a line of gold ‘n guns storefronts (Hal was in heaven). GG bought our gold, but didn’t have the cash on hand to pay for all of it. So he paid us about 10% cash, the balance in a check. He asked us not to deposit the check, he would have cash by week’s end.
We trusted GG. We are trusting folks. At least, Hal is. And, really, GG was in a storefront he’d clearly been in for some time. He wrote the check on company letterhead. Everybody knows if you bounce a check, you go to the slammer. The State’s Attorney does not look favorably on this. So we had our security. And some cash for food and stuff. All good.
That was December 2, 2005. Today is April 20, 2006. Today, nearly 5 months later, five months of asking, demanding, pleading, finally threatening, we got the last (almost) of our money from GG. He has doled it out to us in dribs and drabs.
If it was me, I would have bounced his check long, long ago and been at Mark Kohl’s office with it toot-sweet. But Hal believes in his fellow-man. When a man shows his unscrupulous side, when a man doesn’t keep his word, Hal is always surprised. And anxious to believe it was a momentary lapse, that the good will prevail.
Hal was wrong about that with GG.
At first, GG‘s excuses were plausible enough: sick relative, traveling, still traveling, relative still sick, son was sick, quite sick, very very sick…. and still traveling. In late January, he finally sent us a package with partial payment. He promised the balance the next day. It never came. The day did, the package did not. Nor the next, nor the next.
So began a long series of phone calls, broken promises and lame excuses. And then came the Registered Mail Stunt.
In February, he told us he’d sent the money via registered mail. We asked why registered mail after he’d spoken so confidently of guaranteed overnight services? "High insurance limits, high security, nothing safer," said GG. What could we say? It was done, he was on the hook for it, he gave us the number to track it online, nothing to do but wait.
And wait. And wait. And guess what? A week later it still wasn’t there.
We called GG. He said "Hmmm. Well, the USPS won’t track it until it’s been missing 30 days." What???? The Postal Service’s highest security service and you can’t even report that a package, impressively insured no less, is missing until it’s been gone for a month? There’s no way to find out where it is NOW? Is it any wonder UPS and Fedex have prospered with that kind of competition? We wonder if Lance Armstrong knows about this tiny little drawback to "high security" mail.
Infuriating, yes, but also comical in its "stranger than fiction" quality. Are we in the twilight zone? We suspect another stalling tactic, but Hal, ever generous, gives him the benefit of the doubt and we don’t accuse him. We wait.
Thirty days later, no package and it’s late March. We demand that GG wire the money and he promises to do so. He doesn’t. More phone calls, more demands, more promises, more excuses. He speaks of "the wire" like a prophet with a sign saying "Jesus IS Coming." He actually used "I forgot."
Finally, two weeks later, he tells us he wired the money, faxes us a confirmation of the wire, unsigned by anyone at the bank. We wait and, two days later, unbelieveably, money shows up. Half of what he owed us, half of what he promised to send. At this point, we are no longer surprised but still completely baffled. Why doesn’t he wire the entire amount? How can he treat customers like this and still be in business? Could he possibly have repeat business?
Anyway, we call, he promises to wire the rest immediately. He doesn’t.
For giggles, Hal looks up the registered mail package. It was delivered to an address in Georgia. Unclaimed. Clearly it wasn’t addressed to us. Registered mail, it turns out, is a great system for guys like GG. With UPS, you know where the package is every step along the way, you can find out where it’s addressed, where it is RIGHT NOW, everything. And if it doesn’t get where it’s supposed to go, you can call someone RIGHT THEN and they go look it up. If they can’t find it, it becomes a Huge Priority. They find it and they call you back. Not so with the USPS. None of those services I just mentioned are offered, even with registered mail.
If you were sending an important package, would you use USPS or UPS?
Time goes by, we are still calling, now also emailing (we stumbled onto his email address online – he didn’t offer it), demanding our money. Hal sends him an invoice for the final amount plus interest for holding our money all these months.
We finally threaten to bounce the check. GG stops payment on it. I’d already called the bank and confirmed the money was not in there. Then he puts a block on phone calls from our line… like we are crank callers or telemarketers…
Being in the real estate business, we’ve seen some pretty underhanded dealings. But this. This takes the cake by a long shot.
So today, weeks after the last installment, we get the balance of our money that he’s been holding back. Sans interest, of course.
Here’s the kicker. Not only did GG keep our money for 4 1/2 months interest-free, he added up all the expenses incurred by sending it to us in dribs and drabs and deducted that $160 from the last payment. Was he raised by wolves?
The rare coin business is one in which trust and integrity are critical. The grading and pricing of collector coins is wildly subjective. Expertise is valuable. Integrity even more so. There are thousands of dealers out there. We should have chosen ours more carefully.
So before you buy or sell anything from GG in Miami, talk to us first. We have all the emails, all the phone calls, all the receipts. We remember all the promises. We’d love to share them.
P.S. GG still owes us a goodly sum in unpaid balance and interest. When we receive it, Hal will take down all references to this event on the www. I would leave them up forever. I won’t erase this post, but I will take GG‘s name off of it. I won’t forget it.
P.S.S. There’s a saying: "Holding onto a resentment is like drinking poison expecting it to kill the other person." Unfortunately, this poison sure does taste good going down.