Merit Gold was founded in 1986, under Seacoast Coin by Peter Epstein. In 1993, Merit Financial was born as a retail subsidiary of Seacoast Coin. Since 2009, Merit has seen exponential growth, opening offices in Encino, CA in 2010, and another in Santa Monica, CA in 2011.
Over the past few decades, they have reportedly worked with approximately a quarter of a million American precious metal investors. According to their website, Merit strives to provide their customers with the best value and service available.
Merit Gold currently has a “D” rating with the BBB. The BBB is one of the most trusted sources for consumer information and protection, and as such, it is concerning that Merit Gold has such a low rating.
The Business Consumer Alliance, or BCA, is another popular consumer advocacy group. This company is based out of Southern California and makes its mission protecting consumers from ill-practicing companies. This company strives to give consumers the good and bad about companies. There have been 48 complaints with the BCA about Merit Gold. Many of these complaints revolve around poor communication and unresolved issues. Every company makes mistakes from time to time, but it is how they handle and clear up those mistakes that show the value of the company. According to BCA complaints, Merit Gold is still rated with an “AA” rating despite the complaints. It is important to keep in mind that 48 complaints may not be much to worry about, when compared to the reported 250,000 customers Merit has served.
Reviews on Trustlink.com are more positive. Many are repeat customers who report positive experiences with items delivered on or before when promised. Other praise includes that the process of investing and buying precious metals was fully explained to them, including the packing and shipping process.
Merit maintains a 5 star rating from 676 reviews as of this writing, which is impressive.
On February 13, 2014, a consumer protection lawsuit was filed by the Santa Monica Attorney’s office against Merit Gold and Silver, also known as Seacoast Coin, Inc. The complaint was filed with the Superior Court of the State of California in Los Angeles County. It alleges that Merit Gold and Silver has been involved in an aggressive fraud scheme across the nation that has taken consumers for tens of millions of dollars.
City attorneys allege that since September of 2009, Merit Gold has been operating a large-scale bait and switch fraud scheme. They report that Merit did this by attracting mainly senior citizen customers with gold or silver bullion at only 1 percent over cost. But once the potential client called, they were convinced to buying numismatic or semi-numismatic coins at a premium price.
Attorneys in Santa Monica are seeking restitution of all monies wrongfully earned from customers, injunctive relief, and fines. This case is under the umbrella of California’s Unfair Competition Laws, which aim to protect consumers from unlawful business practices, false advertising and fraud.
Merit Gold boasts competitive prices and hundreds of consumers have had a positive experience. However, governmental legal action and a D rating from the BBB may not be encouraging to some potential investors.