Robb Hicken: It pays to read ads carefully and skeptically

Better Business BureauFebruary 6, 2014 

Advertisements promising that vault bags loaded with rarely seen U.S. government-issued coins are being handed over to Idaho residents for just $59 have been running in local newspapers.

This Ohio company came under Better Business Bureau scrutiny two years ago for “chronic and flagrant” issues with its newspaper and magazine advertising marketing common buffalo nickels as valuable and “nearly impossible to find.”

The company, Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings of North Canton, Ohio, has been selling the nickels throughout the United States this past month using promotions in an area newspaper under the name World Reserve Monetary Exchange. The ads are specifically designed to stretch the truth to sell its products. Advertisements published recently read: “U.S. Gov’t issued coins go to residents in 42 ID counties.”

World Reserve Monetary Exchange, which also uses the name Universal Syndications Inc., has an “F” rating with BBB — the lowest possible rating. Canton BBB has closed about 260 complaints against the company in the last three years.

BBB says several parts of the ads have the capacity to mislead the public. They include:

- A photograph of a 1913 Indian head buffalo nickel used to illustrate the advertisement. The BBB maintains that the 1913-dated nickel that is pictured has more value than the typical coins contained in the bags sold to the public.

- The use of “valuable” and other potentially misleading phrases are designed to communicate a high value to uninformed buyers and imply coins are rare or difficult to find: Idaho residents only have a 48-hour window to buy these coins; everyone is rushing to get the vault bags; a strict limit of 10 vault bags per resident.

In response, World Reserve officials said the company doesn’t believe the advertisements are misleading.

In November 2012, Canton BBB reported complaints concerning an offer of 100 U.S. government coins; in 2011, consumers hoping to cash in on an advertised offer of “valuable, uncut sheets” of $2 bills were frustrated and disappointed.

BBB offers the following tips when ordering coins and currency through the mail:

- Read all advertising and marketing materials carefully in an effort to understand exactly what you will be receiving. If you have any questions, ask the company directly.

- Be wary of words that indicate that an item is valuable or will increase in value. There are no guarantees regarding the appreciation of coins or other collectibles.

- Make sure you understand any additional fees such as processing or mailing costs.

- Make sure you understand the company’s refund policy if you are not satisfied.

- Compare prices online or with a local coin dealer.

- Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you want to challenge the purchase.

- Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or at 208-342-4649.

BBB notes Arthur Middleton companies historically have agreed to change or discontinue ads after receiving challenges. But issues with misleading ads persist. Middleton is owner and shareholdings company for Amish World Store, Brilliant Built Technologies, Fridge Electric, Heat Surge LLC, PatentHEALTH LLC, Republic Telcom Worldwide LLC, Universal Media Syndicate Inc and World Reserve Monetary Exchange Inc.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service