Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bagging A Deal Could Be Buying A Pig In The Poke

Photo and cutline from a full page ad in the Press-Republican.  Armed guards or actors?

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Wed.  7/24/13

Your local newspaper should be trustworthy, stand behind what it prints.  It shouldn't assume "caveat emptor" is in the mind of every reader.

But that warning sprang to mind when I read a full page spread in today's Press Republican on page B5.  At first glance it appears to be a news article but tucked up in the upper left-hand corner is the disclaimer: SPECIAL ADVERTISING FEATURE.  Meaning an ad, not real news.

A headline proclaims: "State zip codes determine who gets free Silver coins."  It's followed by this statement: "Vault bags loaded with U.S. Gov't issued coins are up for grabs as thousands of U.S. residents stand to miss the deadline to claim the money; now any resident of New York who finds their zip code listed below gets to claim the bags of money for themselves and keep any valuable coins found inside by covering the Vault Bag fee within the next two days."

Loosely translated: Act now!

Suckers — oops, I mean readers — drawn in by the headline read on how this can be a great deal because "Each Vault Bag is loaded in part with highly sought after collector coins."  It touts: "Just think what some of these coins could be worth someday."

The key words: "could be."

This is not the first time the PR has run an ad that got my skeptic sense tingling.  As I've documented before at this blog, it ran full pages ads for another company, Treasure Hunters, that a Google search revealed to be controversial, to put it politely.

So I fired up the computer and did a Google search for the company behind this latest advertorial, World Reserve Monetary Exchange, Inc.  Bad show when the results pop up, especially in the top five.

Check out the comments regarding WRME at Ripoff Report and @pissed consumer.  Angry customers complained that they overpaid many times for what they found in the Vault Bags.

The coins are sealed when received.  To find out what coins have been sent you have to remove the seal.  After discovering what they really received, dissatisfied customers wanted to return the product.  Hopefully they read the print at the bottom of the full page ad: NO RETURNS IF SEAL IS BROKEN.

Catch-22, anyone?

Ten minutes with Google search and I found enough info to see that this deal is apparently too good to be true.  One hit brought me to a news article, "Collectible coins or a bag of lies?," by a Portland, Oregon TV station discussing the problems with WRME and its Vault Bags.  Apparently the KATU-TV news team knows how to do a bit of investigative reporting like real journalists.

So does the Press Republican have standards that advertisers must meet before ads are accepted?  Or does it just take the money and leave someone else holding the bag, i.e., "This newspaper is not responsible for any deceptive claims made by advertisers."

Maybe no one there knows how to use Google search.  Or they do and are afraid what it might uncover.

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