One of the most common questions we get asked is, “How can I tell if a coin dealer is trustworthy?” This is an important question to ask, and before you do business with any specific coin dealer, you should feel confident in the answer.
Here are a few basic ways you can determine whether a coin dealer is trustworthy.
Part 1: What do their Google reviews say?
Google reviews are critical to our business, and not only because they are the most common way for people to evaluate our trustworthiness.
Google reviews can be a great way to get an insight into how a dealer operates. They can tell you whether people think that a coin dealer is providing a good service, how they feel about the interactions they’ve had with the coin dealer or other staff, and what a usual experience might be if you choose to do business with them.
Just as important as looking at positive reviews is considering the negative reviews, if any are present. Also see how (or if) the dealer chose to respond to those reviews. Do the responses show genuine care for the customer’s concerns and a desire to make it right, or are they aggressive and try to pass the blame?
But don’t unfair negative reviews exist? Sure they do. The truth is that every business at some point or another might get an unfair negative review – or possibly even several, depending on how long they’ve been in business.
What is important is not to single out one or two individual reviews, but to look for overall patterns in the reviews. What kinds of experiences do people describe most often? What trends in the reviews do you see? What words to describe the coin dealer or the business come up frequently? (Google makes that one easy by identifying keywords that people use most often in their reviews!)
So now you’ve gotten an idea what customers think about the coin dealer. But how else might you evaluate their reputation?
Part 2: Are they a member of a regulatory ethics board?
Another means of determining the trustworthiness of a coin dealer is by finding out whether they are members of some type of regulatory business ethics board. Examples include being a part of the Better Business Bureau, a trade guild, or the chamber of commerce. What you’re looking for is an organization whether other organizations, businesses or professionals stake their reputations by putting their stamp of approval on a business.
To be a part of such a trade organization, a coin dealer must generally have an excellent reputation for accommodation of customers and be free of negative press.
Sam Shafer Numismatics is a proud 5-star member of both the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana as well as a Platinum founding Member of RoundTable Trading Co., the first regulatory association established in the coin industry.
What does it mean to be a RoundTable dealer?
Being a RoundTable dealer is a prestigious and useful perk that most dealers in the coin industry across the country actively seek. This is because RoundTable membership grants access to 900 reputable dealers across the country to not only conduct wholesale trade, but also provide extensive knowledge across all subjects.
For example, if a customer comes in to Sam Shafer Numismatics with a very exotic coin that is outside of our usual knowledge base, our RoundTable connections help us get quick responses for that customer so we always know a fair price to offer.
To be a RoundTable member, three other dealerships must stake their membership and reputation on the dealer wanting the membership. This self-regulation and incentive toward complete honesty and ethics has created one of the most powerful tools in the industry. The result is giving consumers trust and ensuring they receive the accurate and best value for their items.
Part 3: Are they authorized dealers for the major grading companies?
Coin dealers that care about coins and are actively trading in the industry will be authorized dealers for the major grading companies. The two main grading companies are PCGS and NGC.
Being an authorized dealer for these grading companies allows customers to submit their coins for grading. It also grants dealers the critical ability to have coins professionally certified at a special rate. This makes the coins more liquid to sell because the consumer knows they are buying a genuine coin graded by a true professional.
Dealer memberships in major grading companies require very strict protocols be followed:
- The dealer business must be fully reputable and upstanding.
- Additionally, just like RoundTable, a dealer membership requires the endorsement of at least three other certified dealers willing to put their reputation on the line.
- Further, it also requires that a dealer can, if necessary, obtain from a trading partner financing of up to a million dollars in credit loan to purchase a large deal if one comes into the business to purchase, which contains coins graded by the third party that carries the authorized dealership. Basically, one member dealer has to be willing to loan the other member dealer 1 million dollars to purchase coins. As common sense tells you, that takes significant trust! That’s how important membership is.
What this means is that only businesses with ample amounts of capital and/or extremely strong, trust-based relationships operate under the major grading companies’ memberships, so that no customer is ever turned down trying to sell their graded coins.
Membership also ensures that customers are dealt with ethically and fairly. We, like other authorized dealerships, can have our membership revoked if it would ever be shown to the grading companies that we paid someone significantly less than market value for graded coins by their establishment.
So, for example, if someone comes to us with $50,000 in PCGS graded silver dollars and we offer only $25,000 – half of market value – that could be reported to PCGS and we would likely lose our dealer membership.
As you can see, only those dealers who are truly willing to deal with customers ethically will meet the requirements of these third-party organizations like the grading companies.
Conclusion: Ethics and trust matter!
We know that ethics and trust matter to you, and that they are critically important for earning your business. Hopefully the three parts above will give you some clarity on the kinds of things to look for and questions to ask when evaluating a coin dealer with whom you’re considering working.
Transparency also matters. That’s why we are always happy to answer your questions! If there is anything that isn’t covered in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would love to discuss ways that we can best serve your numismatic needs, and give you the peace of mind you deserve throughout the process.