Volume 49, Number 9, September 2012
Building trust This month’s “Letters” page has a letter from Paul Turnbull of Coinote Services International Ltd detailing how he has fallen foul of a credit card scam and has lost a large amount of money thanks to the cloning of credit cards and the fact that the transaction was a mail order one. We don’t know the full details or indeed which bank Paul is with, so cannot comment on this particular case further. However, we have included the letter, at Paul’s request, to alert dealers (and would-be dealers in these days of the internet) that they maybe aren’t as well protected financially as they thought. Certainly, if you or I were to have our cards cloned (and actually I have—twice now—never let a waiter walk off with your credit card . . . !), then the credit card company or bank would ensure that we are not out of pocket should the card be used on a shopping spree. But what of the retailer that has been an unwitting victim too? Well, in Paul’s case, as it was a mail order transaction, it seems that the retailer is not covered therefore loses a great deal of money. This poses something of a problem: for years the move has been toward a “cashless” society, with everyone being encouraged to use cards, electronic banking or similar rather than cash. Cheques were being phased out but now aren’t, but even so the cheque guarantee card is a thing of the past, so a cheque really is just a piece of paper until it has cleared. Using PayPal or similar may be an alternative but anyone who has sold using such a system will know that those companies are very much on the side of the buyer and will automatically deduct monies from the vendor’s account, with little or no recourse, should there be any issue with the purchase. The onus is then on the seller rather than the buyer to prove he is in the right, and that can be time consuming. this, coupled with relatively high commission charges, mean that dealers outside of eBay (where offering PayPal as a payment option is compulsory—small wonder as eBay own PayPal!) and similar are turning away from this method of payment. So, if you are a dealer and want to set yourself up to take orders by mail what can you do? Credit cards apparently are not guaranteed, cheques are archaic and pointless without a guarantee card, PayPal seems to be too much on the side of the buyer and is expensive and sending cash by post is problematic. There’s always internet banking and electronic transfer of course, but not everyone is set up for that (fears regarding security still abound and not everyone is comfortable doing everything on-line)—sadly it seems it may be the only way forward though. One of the issues of course is speed of transaction: in this high speed, high tech world we’re used to ordering things one day and receiving them the next, such is the ability of the big players, and the smaller companies have tried to keep up. This has inevitably led to people sending items out before cheques have cleared, before funds are in the bank, etc., but I fear that will soon change. Coin dealers simply cannot afford to be exposed to losses such as Coinote experienced and thus I think we will start seeing delays on mail order transactions as the dealer, quite rightly, makes sure he is completely covered before he despatches items. There is, of course a way round this, a way I have spoken about many times before: build a relationship with your favourite dealer, visit him at shows, get to know him personally, chat with him on the ‘phone rather than just placing orders on his website, build up a rapport—you’ll soon find that far from having to wait days or weeks for your coins you will actually find yourself receiving coins on approval, able to negotiate layaways and finding that the items you order are with you almost instantly, regardless of how you pay. This hobby of ours is a small one, it is based on trust and based on friendship. as the scammers get more and more sophisticated and as banks offer less and less assurances to vendors, we will, I think, find people dealing in high value items less prepared to trust strangers; the remedy to that is simple—don’t be a stranger! It’s easier than you think.
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