I am an NRA Patron Member. A few years ago, I decided to start buying gold and silver coins instead of depositing my extra cash in a bank savings account. Interest rates are the lowest they have ever been in the history of our nation. While this is very good for people borrowing money, it also means bank deposits grow even more slowly than the economy. Money left in a savings account at current rates will lose value in both the short term and the long term. Investing that money into gold and silver coins insures that the purchasing power of the investment will not change. This is a not a highly profitable investment, but it does make for a solid hedge investment against inflation. The downside being that in some cases if an investor is forced to liquidate in the short term the loss can be quite substantial.
Since I am an NRA member, naturally the first place I called was Universal Coin and Bullion. They put me in touch with a sales agent named Robert Campbell. He was an enthusiastic fellow, with a keen interest in the history of the United States and the relationship between coinage and the growth of our nation. I enjoyed talking to him. I purchased some Silver Eagles. This turned out to be the beginning of a nearly eight-year relationship with Robert Campbell. Without fail, at least once a month he would call me up to ask how I was doing, inform me of the current specials they were offering, and talk about history. Once in a while, I made additional purchases. I mostly bought Silver Eagles, but I also bought interesting collector pieces, special editions, and eventually, some gold pieces.
One day I received a call from a new sales agent. He informed me that Robert Campbell no longer worked for Universal Coin and Bullion. He would not tell me if Robert had resigned, been fired, or died in some kind of unexpected tragedy. Instead, he immediately began a hard sell pitch trying to convince me to purchase additional pieces similar to ones I already owned, "to complete the set". He brushed aside any questions I asked not related to the items he was selling and did not listen to me when I explained I wasn't buying any coins for the moment. Rather than listen, he continued his practiced sales pitch emphasizing, "now is the time to complete the set before prices rise."
Annoyed, I hung up on him. Unfortunately, every time I called after this they connected me to the same annoying sales agent with the same rehearsed lines and the same hard sell attitude. It was a relief to fly back to Japan and know he would be unable to contact me for at least six months. While I was in Japan, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a customer of Universal Coin and Bullion. Therefore, as soon as I returned I called them up and asked about selling my collection back to them. I knew I would have to take a loss, but it would be worth it just to be rid of them and insure they had no reason to call me again. The new fellow was not happy to hear this but promised to look into it.
Two weeks later when I had not heard from him I called him back. He promised to call me that Friday. When he did not, I called again on Monday, then on Tuesday. On Monday he was not in the office (or so I was told) and on Tuesday he assured me that he would call me on Wednesday morning. Naturally, he did not. So I called again on Wednesday afternoon and found myself listening to a series of robotic connections, disconnections, and reconnections as the system shuffled me around. I was finally able to leave a message for him, but I suspect it will do no good and he will not bother calling me back.
For nearly eight years I enjoyed doing business with Universal Coin and Bullion. Robert Campbell was attentive to my requests, his head contained encyclopedic knowledge of numismatics and history of American coinage, and he never pushed me into buying something I expressed zero interest in acquiring. When I was interested but reluctant, he went out of his way to sweeten the offer with things like books, a jeweler's loupe, or special prices on liquidation inventory. However, since the day he left the entire tone of my dealings with the company have changed. No one I speak to listens, no one answers my questions, no one takes me seriously. When I am not interested in the current special, I get pressured into buying it anyway. From my perspective the company has transformed itself from a companionable numismatic partner into some perverse version of the Home Shopping Network. I no longer trust the company or its employees. I cannot recommend it. Just the opposite. From this point forward I will enthusiastically recommend people buy their gold and silver coins anywhere in the world except Universal Coin and Bullion
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