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Concerns From The APMEX Precious Metals Survey

7/31/2008 08:48:00 AM, Posted by Elise, 7 Comments

In addition to the awesome feedback we received with the point and click survey responses, we asked some open ended questions too. We wanted to give our customers, and the forum populations, the opportunity to voice their rants or raves on their own terms.We already showed you some of the positive feedback in previous posts.

The next few blog posts will cover the most common complaints we saw from the survey. We wanted to be fair and upfront with everyone about the results.

So here goes – the concerns and the no spin answers to them.


Part 1 - Lower Credit Card Fees

One of your main concerns was that our credit card fee is too high. Based on your comments, quite a few people feel we are penalizing them for choosing to pay with a credit card.

Here’s a good example as a quote from one of the survey respondents:

“It would be nice not to have to pay 3% when using a credit card. I understand credit card companies charge you 3%, but you shouldn't pass that expense to the customer.”

This actually surprised us a little. We crawled all over our site, and not a single time do we ever mention a credit card fee. This surprised us because, there are, in fact, other online precious metals dealers (who we will let remain anonymous) that display two clearly different prices – one price for credit card orders and another price for other payment options.

At APMEX, however, we only display a single best offer price (based on the market) - so when you buy silver bullion, US gold coins, or other precious metals, you know you are getting a competitive, honest price. You pay the same amount for your silver, gold or numismatic items – regardless of what payment option you choose.

We highly value our customers. How could it be beneficial to penalize you for anything, especially your chosen payment method? We understand where you’re coming from, but it would appear some people have misunderstood what we have stated in our Shipping FAQ’s.

Where this may get a little “fuzzy” for some folks is that we do provide a “Cash Discount” of 3% Off the Shipping, Handling and Insurance – not 3% discount on the purchased items. This discount is applied on cash, checks, money orders or bank wire payments. We can see how some people may have misunderstood the discount we want to provide for those who choose to purchase precious metals using more “traditional” means.

So, we can see that it may appear to some people that we are charging an extra credit card fee, when in reality, we simply aren’t. Any fees like that are absorbed into the operational expenses for the company, just like any other respectable company in the World.

We do sympathize and understand the confusion though. You want to get the best possible price for your silver or gold items. We respect that. Because of this, we want to continually strive to be up front with our pricing while remaining highly competitive in the market.

So do you think we should drop the 3% Discount to clarify the fact that we are not “punishing” people for using a credit card? Feel free to comment with your answer. We’re here and listening to you, our valued customers.

7 Comments

Stan Seibert @ August 3, 2008 at 1:11 PM

I just reread the shipping price FAQ, and I have to admit I'm still confused. Suppose I purchase an item which is $950. Is this how much I pay?

Credit Card: $950 (item) + $19.95 (shipping) + 0.03 * $950 (insurance) = $998.45
Check: $950 (item) + $19.95 = $969.95

Assuming I have that right, then no matter how you slice it, you are offering a cash discount. All of your customers must have their purchase shipped to their residence, so whether the discount applies to the price of the item, or the shipping, is just a matter of semantics. The bottom line to my wallet is the same.

(Whether this is rewarding cash customers or punishing credit customers is a relative statement, and not very useful. Credit customers should ask whether they could get a better deal using their credit card somewhere else, and if so go there. Many gold dealers don't accept credit cards at all.)

I don't think I would want APMEX to drop this policy if it means cash-users have to pay more. But don't be surprised if people continue to be confused by this policy. When customers do the math, they will see that they pay more with a credit card, and not surprisingly concluse they are being "penalized" for it.

APMEX @ August 5, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Stan,
Thanks for your comment. This basic question has come up a number of times...in fact, there is "older" discussion about it on the Gold Is Money forums (http://goldismoney.info/forums/showthread.php?t=44104&highlight=%22apmex+credit ) if you are interested in reading other people's opinions and feedback.

Anonymous @ August 9, 2008 at 1:54 PM

Are Stan's figures correct?
Is it really +3% of the purchase? Or should it be just +3% of the $19.95 -- still confused evidently. But I do understand why you don't like the term "credit card fee".

Also -- you seem to have a time stamp on the APMEX posts but no date stamp -- unless I'm further confused

Anonymous @ August 13, 2008 at 12:51 PM

I just ran a test order. For 2 items sub-totaling $98.85, S&H for Credit Card is $12.92, and all other methods are $9.95.

According to the FAQ: "What are the shipping, handling and insurance charges?

* $9.95 for orders of $50.00 - $199.99 (Plus 3% of subtotal)"

In other words, $98.85 * 0.03 = $2.97 + $9.95 = $12.92

So, yes, APMEX doesn't charge an extra 3% to use a credit card except if you need to return an item in which case...

All credit card order returns are subject to a 5.00% restocking fee.

So, it could be, market loss + $35 + 5%. In the above example, let's say there is a 1$ market loss. I then have to pay:

$111.77 to buy with a CC

If I return, I get back $57.91. Is that about right?

APMEX @ August 13, 2008 at 2:35 PM

The shipping and handling example is correct if not using a cash payment method, such as check, money order, cashier’s check.

If you are returning an item purchased by credit card and you would like a refund instead of a replacement, APMEX typically will send a refund check. In which case the 5% restocking fee is not required.

Order cancellations do involve a $35.00 cancellation fee, market loss (if any) and, if refunded to a credit card there would be a 5% restocking fee.

Anonymous @ August 15, 2008 at 8:28 AM

I think Apmex is one of the fairest priced precious metals dealers on the web. It is the FIRST place I come to to buy gold and silver.

HOWEVER, I have placed about a dozen orders over the past several months. Some for items costing less than $100, and some for items costing a couple of thousand dollars. I have found that at higher price totals the S&H charge for Credit Card use is MUCH HIGHER than 3% of the ONLY the S&H.

In short, for Apmex to claim no connection between credit card use and the TOTAL FINAL COST, is misleading at best. When you see a shipping charge essentially DOUBLE upon applying a check mark next to "credit card", YOU KNOW YOU ARE BEING PENALIZED.

As for myself, I don't care. I'll write a check and wait. Furthermore, as others have pointed out, many (if not most) precious metals dealers will not even accept credit cards. So, it is truly a non-issue for me.

BUT, for Apmex to claim their intent is NOT to penalize credit card users... I'm sorry, but I truly feel it is worse than "misleading"; it is a blatant falsehood and an insult to my intelligence. (I would expect this kind of double-talk from the government).

Sincerely,
Gregg

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