Online Coin Dealers

In a previous post for, we highlighted two reasons why individuals should consider doing business with local coin dealers, which included taking physical delivery at the time of the sale and avoiding hard sell pressure tactics.  We provided as examples The Tulving Company and Merit Financial, who were in the news for allegedly failing to ship products in a timely fashion and for preying on unknowledgeable investors.  Unfortunately, the worst possible situation occurred to Tulving customers at the end of this past week, as The Tulving Company officially announced on Friday that they were closing their doors; failing to deliver on millions of dollars of unprocessed orders.

While it’s possible that the victims that failed to receive their items will receive partial compensation following bankruptcy proceedings, it’s thought that The Tulving Company’s outstanding liabilities far exceeded their assets and that very little restitution will be paid to the victims.  As a reputable coin dealer, we’re outraged by the allegations made against The Tulving Company, and believe that the actions of a few can paint the entire industry in a negative light.  While we sincerely feel for the victims of this unfortunate event, we wanted to share with our readers a few suggestions on how you can best protect yourself against unscrupulous coin dealers.

Many victims of The Tulving Company could have avoided their fate had they researched Tulving’s status with the Better Business Bureau.  Individuals have been filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau against Tulving for quite some time.  In fact, there have been 150 formal complaints filed since last summer and 5,600 inquiries made since 2010.  This recent track record was a clear sign that Tulving was experiencing issues and that conducting business with this company could potentially be risky.  While other regulatory agencies exist, the Better Business Bureau is oftentimes one of the frontrunners in identifying potential issues with companies.

In addition to researching a company’s status with the Better Business Bureau, we believe that it’s important to confirm when placing an order with an online coin and bullion dealer that they have the items in stock that you’re interested in purchasing; frequently referred to as “live” product.  In addition to confirming that the stock is live, a scheduled shipment date should be obtained.  If a coin dealer is unwilling to commit to shipping your items within a week, there’s a chance that they don’t have the items in stock that you desire or that there are other organizational issues with the company, which should raise a red flag.

In addition to researching a company’s status with the Better Business Bureau, confirming that the coins or bullion are “live” and obtaining a scheduled shipment date, we recommend that you subscribe to trade publications, read frequently updated coin blogs, such as our blog, or sign up to receive Google Alerts so that you receive immediate notification of any media attention that your preferred coin dealer may be receiving.  These efforts should help you to stay current on any developments that may be potentially harmful to your wallet.

Many readers of this blog frequently purchase coins off of eBay, and we believe that this is a great venue if you prefer to do your buying online.  For one, you can check the feedback history of the seller and avoid any dealers that have less than stellar feedback.  Secondly, companies that list coins on eBay are offering the exact coin that is posted, so you can be assured that they have the coin in stock that you desire.  Thirdly, buying coins on eBay provides the opportunity to purchase coins at coin dealer wholesale prices, as published by the Coin Dealer Newsletter.  Lastly, many eBay sellers agree to ship coins within a couple of days; some as quickly as one day following the receipt of payment, which assures that the coin will be in your hands within a week.

In summary, while we’re still of the opinion that buying locally is the best strategy, we believe that certain precautions can be taken by customers of online coin dealers to help minimize any potential issues.  Firstly, be sure to check the coin dealer’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau.  Secondly, confirm that the item you’re purchasing is in stock and obtain a date by which the coins will be shipped.  If not within one week, it’s probably best to move on.  Thirdly, subscribe to industry publications, blogs or sign up for Google Alerts for the company that you desire to do business with.  Lastly, consider eBay as an option for the benefits described above.  Following these steps should help to increase your chances of a successful online transaction.

Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes.  Visit his website at for additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company.