Investors in Time Rip Off
Don't get ripped off by this company.
Gold & Silver Bureau of Ilford Essex
Back about November 2002, Gold & Silver Bureau of Ilford Essex, run by John Coppin, went into liquidation owing millions to customers who had paid for krugerrands, sovereigns, or other coins.
One of our web pages from earlier carried out a price comparison with Gold & Silver Bureau, showing that if you bought 35 items from their catalogue, and the same 35 items from us, you would be much better off.
On the 35 items listed, you could have bought them from us for £2,2821.73, compared with £4,047.75 buying them from our nameless competitor, a saving of £1,226.02, or just over 30%. Looked at another way, you would have paid over 43% more buying elsewhere!
The closest item, at only 5% saving, was a current year's coin, where we sell at a similar price to the Royal Mint, and presumably our competitor feels constrained by the Royal Mint's pricing. Similar considerations apply to two other newly released items. The maximum percentage saving was 86%.
Gold & Silver Bureau Spawns...
Investors In Time Limited
Head Office: 72 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1RR
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2084, Canvey, Essex, SS8 7WJ
Registered Office: 15 AMBERLEY COURT, SIDCUP, KENT DA14 6JT
Company No. 04504911
Some time after Gold & Silver Bureau closed down, we notice a few new names offering coins for sale from the London or Essex areas. We tried to find our who was behind these new dealers, as we suspected it might be John Coppin setting up once again. It seems that a couple of his ex-managers, or ex-employees had set up their own business, possibly using Gold & Silver Bureau's database and mailing list, and were selling similarly overpriced sounding coins. They were also using a prestigious sounding London West End address, which is actually only an accommodation or forwarding address, we believe. We created a brief page about them on one of our websites.
Shortly after we were contacted by Steven Lawson, a director of Investors in Time, and told that he had seen our web page, but it was inaccurate. He had no connection with Gold & Silver Bureau, had never worked for them, and would we correct or remove our page. It seems that we remove or unlinked it, but will now check our archives. We were also reliably informed by a number of other dealers that Steve Lawson used to work on Telesales for John Coppin.
A year or so later, an eBay member biggysmallsxxxx (xxxx being a number, we can't remember, but will try to look it up) started bidding on a number of our eBay auctions. We remember them paying too much for a Proof Krugerrand set, about £775, against our website price of £650, and a trade price of perhaps £600. It turned out to be Investors in Time! The later changed their eBay identity to makeveli.
On their last bids, we never got paid, and filed a NPB strike against them, which we rather naively withdrew when they told us they would send us a cheque immediately. It never arrived, and we never got our eBay selling fees back.
We wondered how much they charged their customers if they were paying silly prices on eBay when any other dealer in their right mind would have bought direct at lower prices. We recently found out, as we made an offer to buy a coin "collection", all of which had been bought from Investors in Time. The lady selling it was already aware that IIT we more than a little suspect. Here are a few highlights from the collection, taken from the invoices which accompanied the coins...
1 x Queen Elizabeth II 2001 Four Coin Proof Silver Britannia Set... £295
(We sell the same set for £85, and note that there are currently a few on eBay, at Buy it Now prices from £85 to £100, and two auctions, one with a first bid of £49.91, the other still waiting for a starting price bid of £0.99, but with an extortionately high postage and packing cost of £8.50, by Royal Mail 2nd Class Recorded (Recorded specifically excludes compensation for coins!). (Some eBayers complain about us charging £2). IIT were charging 3.47 times our price!
Although it is not illegal to overcharge, this price represents a complete rip-off,
This invoice was signed by Alan Worby, Sales Advisor.
1 x 1831 King William IV Proof Full Gold Sovereign £1,000
In our strong opinion, this coin is not a proof. The proof version has a plain edge, and although this coin does appear to have a plain edge, it has also been mounted, and the mount removed, leaving an obvious solder mark, it is also worn, scratched, and creased. The edge appears to have been filed off, probably t remove the mount, but this has also removed its original edge finish leaving it appearing to be a plain edge. Even this is not very convincingly executed, and the workmanship is laughably crude and bodged. In our opinion, this coin is worth little more than its scrap value of about £75 to £80.
We believe that any dealer selling this coin as a proof would be committing fraud.
This invoice was signed by Ashton Seymour, Director.
Among the other copy invoices we have seen, we noticed a number of other outrageous prices, but some of the spellings and other errors in the descriptions also caught our eye...
1 x 1658 Oliver Cromwell 1 oz Gold 24 24 Carrat Medalion
1828 King George V Wreath Crown
1830 King George V Wreath Crown
More to Follow
It's already past midnight, and we have already set our alarm clock for 6.30 tomorrow (today really), so we will cut this short for now, and try to add more later...
eBay Guides Voting Interference
Shortly after we published this guide, and a similar page on one of our websites, our eBay guides were hit by a malicious attack of negative voting. Shortly before, we had started a log of the "helpfulness votes" of our guides. Although only about 3% to 4% of viewings result in a vote, we noted that 93.5% of the votes were positive, and 6.5% negative. Over a few days our guides received about 400 negative votes, and a further 100 over the next few days. For this to happen, somebody must have recorded two or three votes against each of our 180 or so guides. Obviously for this to happen, the person must have used two or three different identities.
We reported this to eBay who advised us that it appeared to be a clear cut case of "interference", and said they would investigate it, they record IP addresses of voters, although their technical team was tied up attempting a major bug fix. We are waiting to see what they can tell us.
Although this tactical voting abuse does not directly harm our reputation, it does suppress the visibility of our guides, and makes it more difficult for other members to see our warning. It seems to be just one more method which crooked and dishonest operators will use to protect themselves or cause harm to honest members who oppose them or make it harder for them to scam people. The more guides we have published, the more susceptible we become to this sort of attack.
It is our opinion that eBay could stop this kind of abuse by removing the "No" vote button, and simply retain the "Yes" button. In any case, we think you should be aware of another trick used by scammers. This makes all the more reason why you should use your "Yes" vote whenever you find an eBay guide which provides any help at all. This helps to minimise the spoiling actions of the crooks and fraudsters.
We also received a telephone call from somebody who claimed he was speaking on behalf of Investors in Time, who informed us they would be instructing their lawyers to sue us for defamation. So far we have received nothing. We believe we have little to fear as we have been accurate and restrained in our reporting, and our comments are in the public interest.
An eBay member published a very brief guide with the theme "Don't get ripped of by Chard". This was clearly defamatory, and is quite unfounded. We brought it to eBay's attention, and they removed it immediately. We have requested the identity and contact information for the member who published it, who is from Essex, as are Investors in Time!
We have been asked to point out that Coin Connection, also of Essex, have no connection with Investors in Time. They are genuine honest traders to the best of our knowledge.
About the Author
Lawrence Chard is a director of Chard Coins of Blackpool, England, and has over 42 years experience in numismatic and bullion coins.
Chard have maintained a dealing service for both collectors and investors in bullion and numismatic coins. During the period from 1965 to 1971, we were one of only a small number of dealers who were granted a dealers licence.
All our images and text are copyright.
Actually, we also notice that Investors in Time are using our world famous and much copied photograph of a 1974 krugerrand on their website, without our copyright permission.
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2 November 2006
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