Friday, January 27, 2012

Solid Gold Stupidity

It's amazing how greed equates with stupidity. I'm sure you have seen the ads to purchase a proof solid gold clad coin originally designed to sell for $50, for the amazing low price of $9.95. It is clad in 14 mg of 99.9999% pure gold! If you haven't, take a minute to visit this site and then come back here to do a little math with me.

It sounds impressive and the fact that they run numerous TV ads is testimony to the fact that they are selling like hotcakes, but let's take a look at a few obvious red flags and a few not-so-obvious ones.

Yesterday I went out in the rain "clad" in my rain coat. And this coin is CLAD in 14 mg of gold. That is 14 thousandTHS of a gram. It would take 71 of these coins to make just one gram of gold, and it takes 31 grams to equal a single ounce. (Gold is measured in troy ounces.)

Gold is currently about $1720 an ounce. When you do all the math, you find that the $50 coin you just got at a bargain price of $9.95 (plus shipping) contains a whopping 77 cents worth of gold.

It would appear that you have been overcharged by just a bit, but never fear. If gold ever makes it to $22,360 an ounce you can sell your coin to someone for $9.95 and make your money back (as long as you also charge shipping).

That, my friend is the mathematics of greed and stupidity.

NOTE: I'm no math wizard. I rounded some fractions and may have even made a mistake along the way, which I would be happy to correct, but the bottom line is that if you are buying these coins as an investment, don't do it. I have some beach front property that I can sell you that is a better deal. Just plan on seeing it at low tide.

Monday, January 9, 2012


In August we went to live with my parents in NJ to help my father recover from a stroke. They have DirecTV, but no DVR. Knowing that we would be there for a while, I called them up to add a DVR to their account for the month or two we expected to be there. They were more than happy to do it, but it required a two year agreement. I explained about the stroke, that my parents were both 90, and that there was no way I wanted to tie them to a two year contract.

Nothing I could say or do could make them waive the two year contract. Finally, after the rep mentioned that there were conditions under which they would waive the fee when the contract was closed, I relented and figured I would fight that battle later on down the line.

One month ran into two, which ran into three, which ran into four. We were in NJ until December. My parents were now in assisted living, the house was sold and the closing was the 14th. It was time to close the account and I prepared myself for the upcoming battle.

I called to have the service stopped and explained the reason. The first thing they asked was whether they have DTV at the assisted living facility. I explained that they did not and could not subscribe from there. At that point, I was pleasantly surprised when the rep went through the process and near the end said, (without me asking), "Under the circumstances we will waive the early cancellation fee."

The account was closed and I was relieved and thankful that I didn't have to do battle. DirectTV had scored some points with me, but alas, it didn't last that long. Just yesterday, I was checking my father's credit card statement and saw a $10 change from DirectTV. It was a charge that had never appeared on the card before. I called to find out about it and told it was a charge for canceling the equipment protection plan.

Now I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Now it may be that if I complained and explained, I could get the $10 fee removed, but they did waive the early cancellation fee and it wasn't worth raising my blood pressure over $10. I just asked for confirmation that the account was closed properly and that this would be the last charge I would receive from DTV. The rep confirmed it and I bid him a good day.

Overall, I have no major complaint, but it galls me that they have been a customer for year and apparently paid for the protection plan on a monthly bases and then are hit with a fee to cancel the protection. I just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Up here in NH, we have Comcast. I'm not at all happy with their pricing. My wife and I were thinking of looking into DTV up here, but after the $10 charge, that's less likely.