On January 19, news about National Collector’s Mint, a private company that sells commemorative coins hit the media. This is not the first time the Federal Trade Commission (FTC - www.ftc.gov) has gone after National Collector’s Mint (www.ncmint.com), however, it may be the hottest button the company has ever hit. At issue are the September 11, 2001 commemorative memorabilia sold by the company.
Who is National Collector’s Mint?
National Collector’s Mint is a private company that sells coins and other memorabilia commemorating events in American history. The company is supported by Barry M. Goldwater, Jr., who is prominently featured on their website with his own web page. The company’s website does provide the following disclaimer, however it is very small print in the sidebar of their site. “National Collector's Mint, Inc. is an independent, private corporation not affiliated with, endorsed, or licensed by the U.S. government or the U.S. Mint. All tributes to original coins contain the ‘copy’ designation as mandated by federal law.”
Why is there a problem with the 9-11 memorabilia?
- The federal government passed a law in 2010 that created an official Sept. 11 medal. Proceeds from the sale of the medal were to benefit the museum being built at the World Trade Center site. Sales of commemorative memorabilia made by National Collector’s Mint provide no funding to the charitable organizations or the museum set up after 9-11.
- According to the FTC, National Collector’s Mint “deceived consumers, charged them for items they never ordered, and failed to properly mark its imitation items with “COPY.”
- The FTC is also alleging that despite the company’s clearly displayed “Solid Gold Money Back Guarantee,” consumers who tried to return items were either unable to do so, found the return process “was not simple and prompt, and it frequently involved previously undisclosed conditions.”
What’s the bottom line?
The agreement, which still must be approved in Federal court, specifies that the company pay $750,000 in fines. The company must also stop misrepresenting material facts about any product or service, provide clear disclosure of the total costs and fees involved in any purchase as well as the refund policy. The Huffington Post reported on Jan. 19 that calls made to the company’s attorney were not returned immediately.
Terry Ambrose (terryambrose.com) is a mystery author who also reports on scams and cons. T. Jefferson Parker, three-time Edgar-award winner, said, "License to Lie is fast and well written, almost sure to satisfy discerning readers of thrillers."