Thursday, June 14, 2012
But just what IS customer service? According to dictionary.com, customer service is "the assistance and other resources that a company provides to the people who buy or use its products or services." Most people would define customer service as the level of satisfaction, or feeling that a product or service has met our expectations.
Customer service is a very generic term that encompasses the whole range of an entire transaction. From first contact with a business, and those that provide that service, through the entire purchase process of the transaction's life-cycle, before, during, and after the actual sale.
To offer customers truly outstanding service, it's necessary not just to meet a customer's expectations, but to offer them something else, intangible, like a warm, friendly, and genuinely sincere attitude throughout the transaction process. I define customer service as the steps taken above and beyond customer expectations, that truly make each and every customer feel special.
I recall a true story of a waitress who once waited on a friend of mine. He had ordered a Diet Coke and the waitress replied that their restaurant served only Pepsi Products. She could tell he was obviously disappointed, but he ordered the Diet Pepsi anyway. When the waitress returned a few minutes later with his drink, he was surprised to receive the Diet Coke he originally ordered. The waitress had gone next door, to the convenience store, and purchased for him the Diet Coke he really wanted. That, my friends, is customer service.
Would it have been easier to simply bring the Diet Pepsi her restaurant carried?
Did the customer expect the Diet Pepsi?
Was he more than surprised to receive the Diet Coke?
Do you think my friend went back to that restaurant again and again?
You better believe he did.
Not only that, my friend offered this waitress a job at his company. You see, that waitress had an attitude and an intangible something extra that money just can't buy. Not everybody has the 'right' attitude when it comes to serving customers. She had a focus on taking care of the customer, not the extra $1.50 it cost her for the Diet Coke. You think she and her restaurant more than made up for that $1.50 with the tips my friend left her, and the repeat business from my friend. Absolutely.
What about the word of mouth advertising this waitress and restaurant gained as a result of this simple act of customer service? I'm still telling this story years afterwards. As I mentioned in the first sentence, most people don't recognize or acknowledge customer service unless it is extremely good, or extremely bad. Most of us expect customer service to be simply ok, because it's what we get 99% of the time.
I'll mention one more act of typical customer service, and one of outstanding customer service, both at the same store. I was at Barnes & Noble Book Store the other day, in Millbury, MA. I was looking for a book, on this subject actually, customer service, and I couldn't find the right section on my own. I asked one of the store assistants behind the counter, and she said the books on customer service were over in the business section. That was it. No shelf number, no references.
I went back to the business section and still could not find the books I was looking for. I went again to the counter and a young gentleman asked what I was looking for, and not only did he walk me over to the correct book section, he selected several of the books on customer service off the shelf and briefly updated me on the particulars of those books and offered a few suggestions to help me out. Wow. I was blown away at the time and effort he took to assist me in finding just the right book. And to think the other assistant who merely told me what section the books were in, how much more helpful this young man was. What a different attitude he had about customer service, and it made all the difference in the world to me. Now it would be nice to see entire businesses staffed with genuinely concerned customer service professionals like him.
And now to my unbelievable "customer service" experience. This story, completely true and also a recent personal experience. On the other side of the fence, are the horrible customer service experiences, and we've all had plenty. But this one actually surprised me, in a totally new way.
I was in a local coin store to pick up a few items the other day. I was actually picking up a few coins I had sent out to a coin grading service for professional grading. This particular store offers this service to their customers. The coins I sent out were ready to pick up. I got to the store, and realized I had forgotten my receipt at home. The store owner handed my coins over to me and was about to ring me up when I explained to him that I was sorry, but I forgot my receipt at home. Instead of what most any store employee would do, which is make a copy of the original receipt and mark the items picked up, the owner of the store stopped what he was doing and went on a verbal tirade and chastised me loudly and flagrantly in front of two of his employees, for not having my receipt with me.
This verbal sparring went on for nearly half an hour. I was being verbally chastised by the business owner! After a few minutes of explaining that I would be happy to send him the original receipt, or I could run home and get it, the owner went on and on and on about me disrespecting his story policies etc. etc. etc. At one point I simply asked him what the big deal was, as he had already given me my coins back. I also explained that I most certainly did not appreciate the way he was speaking to me, or the attitude and contempt he had for me, one of his customers! I also mentioned to the owner he was making me uncomfortable by the way he was speaking to me, and was making an uncomfortable situation in front of his employees.
I did not steal anything. I did not do anything unethical. I simply forgot a receipt at home...and this business owner felt the need to yell at me in front of his employees for half an hour before I had enough and left the store.
Imagine being yelled at by a store employee of Stop and Shop for forgetting your recycling bags. I could not believe the terrible service at this particular coin store. I felt verbally abused! I surely will not be back there ever again.
Now contrast this incident with the helpful employee at Barnes and Noble, or the friendly waitress who brought my friend a Diet Coke. Do you think I would ever recommend that coin store to anyone? Do you think I will recount my experience in that store and that the story will be passed on and on.
Customer service goes way beyond simply waiting on a customer, or answering a few questions, or offering customers simply what they expect. True customer service is about going above and beyond the customers expectations and actually giving the customer a reason to spread a positive message on to others.
And by the way, because of the terrible treatment I received from that store owner, I sent him a letter with my honest feedback of my experience in his store, along with a copy of a book I was given 20 years ago when I first entered the customer service profession. It was a book on providing Knock Your Socks Off Customer Service. It has served me well to recognize and provide my customers with outstanding customer service. Hopefully that business owner will take it to heart and realize there are helpful alternatives and simple solutions that both take care of customers and serve the best interests of his business.
Until next time, for sincere customer service and a friendly helpful attitude, feel free to give us a call with any numismatic related questions, comments, or service. Charlton Coins 508-335-6788
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
It is always exciting to sift through the collections that others have painstakingly put together over untold hours and years. We understand that they are not just a bunch of old coins, but a big part of someone's life. Whether it is your life or that of a loved one. Our true commitment is to offer our customers the friendliest, most convenient, profitable, and safest secure transactions available in the area. We also have a commitment to honoring your collections, not by melting them down for their precious metal content, but by matching your items up with customers searching for those particular items.
We appreciate the confidence you have bestowed upon us over the years, and we look forward to serving you in the future. Again, my personal thanks for making this year a spectacular one. Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season to you and yours.
If we can ever be of service, we can come to you, or you can visit us by appointment at our secure office, conveniently located here in Central Massachusetts. Give us a call 508-335-6788. Available 7 days a week.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
These items are worth face value, even in brilliant uncirculated condition. So many of these items were minted, and so many collectors put these items away, they are quite literally, not very collectible. You may find these items for sale at coin shows for a small premium over their face value, but if you have any of these items in your coin collection and you are trying to sell them, dealers will offer face value, if they offer anything at all. Most dealers won't buy them, as there is no mark-up or profit to be made off these items.
I have come across collections with hundreds of Eisenhower Dollars from the early 1970s. These Eisenhower Dollars are still worth a dollar each. Imagine the compounded interest you would have made on that one dollar, had you put it in a simply interest-bearing savings account for the last 40 years. I've taken the liberty of calculating the results: At a simple 5% rate, your one dollar would have grown to $7.04. Let's say you have 100 1971 Eisenhower dollars in your collection, today's value of those 100 dollars is $100 dollars. Had you put those same Eisenhower dollars in the bank in 1971 at 5% interest and not touched the money until today, you would have $704.00 in your account. I don't know about you, but I would much rather have $704 dollars in the bank, than 100 Eisenhower dollars in my desk drawer.
The same can be said of Susan B Anthony Dollars from the late 70s and early 80s, 1976 Bicentennial Quarters and Half Dollars, and Sacagawea Dollars. A simply interest-bearing account would yield a greater return on those items, than hanging on to them in your collection.
I'm not saying don't collect these items, not everyone is looking for a return on their collectibles, but if the purpose of your collecting is to someday sell your items for a profit, it might be better to put the items in the bank and collect interest on them. Even at today's super low interest rates, you are actually still better off putting those Ike Dollars, Susan B Anthony's, Sacagaweas, State Quarters, and Bicentennial Quarters and Half Dollars in the bank.
For more info, or advice on what to collect, save, or put in the bank, please feel free to give us a call, we're here to help, and consultations and appraisals are always free: Charlton Coins, your leading Massachusetts Coin Dealer (508) 335-6788.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Investing in rare and valuable coins is supposed to be a great way to diversify your portfolio, right? A wise choice to invest in hard assets. Gold, Silver, and Platinum are at all-time high prices. So how did Bill Johnson lose nearly his entire life savings "investing" in rare coins, limited edition numismatic collectibles, gold, silver, and platinum coins?
Here's the scenario. Bill is a retired gentleman, and has been purchasing what he thought were rare, limited edition, and valuable coins and collectibles for many years. Coins made of Gold, Silver, and Platinum. Buying coins with very limited quantities, after being informed that these would be valuable for generations to come, and only available for a very limited time, never to be released again. Something special, he was informed, to pass on to future generations. Bill thought he was making a sound and wise investment. So how did Bill lose his entire life savings when he sold his collection? Did the coin dealer he sold them to "screw" Bill out of his coins? Did someone steal them? How does one lose money when they sell something?
Bill Johnson purchased his entire coin collection from the Home Shopping Networks, QVC, Franklin Mint, American Mint, Morgan Mint, and the United States Commemorative Gallery, and other similar online and television shopping networks, and from the numerous catalogues these companies solicited him through the mail. After all, these were supposedly reputable companies, with well-known spokesmen, with years and years of experience, and some have been in business for decades. How in the world did Bill lose all his money?
Very simply put, Bill paid too much for every single item he bought. Way too much. In fact, some of the items Bill bought were absolutely worthless. And lest you think Bill got screwed by the dealer who bought the items from him, Bill brought his items to several dealers, and all of the offers Bill received were less than 1/10th of what he actually paid for the items originally. For example, one of the items was a Statue of Liberty, limited edition, commemorative coin, layered in Gold, from the American Mint. Bill paid almost $90 for this limited edition coin, touted by the American Mint as having a mintage of only 50,000 pieces. Bill thought he was getting a good deal. Especially after hearing advertisement after advertisement and program after program by the home shopping networks of the rising price of gold. In fact, the spokesmen have gone out of their way to stress gold prices, and the fact that these coins are layered in PURE 24K GOLD. So they must be valuable right?
Well, this particular example of the Liberty Commemorative Coin Bill bought is made of copper-nickel layered in Gold, but what the American Mint and Home Shopping Networks and all of the other companies Bill bought his coins from DO NOT TELL him or any other customer, is that there is less than 2 CENTS worth of gold in these coins. Not only do these places emphasize the rising price of gold, they stress the limited quantities and availability of these items. Available at these low prices for a limited time only!
This Liberty Commemorative coin has a metallic content value of less than .25 cents, which is all it is really worth. It isn't even a US Government issue coin. It isn't even legal tender. It is a nearly worthless medal slug, minted by a private corporation, for the purpose of making a profit for itself at the expense of uninformed buyers, who have been seduced by assumption-inducing tactics, plain and simple. Bill Johnson didn't get screwed when he sold his coin collection. Bill got screwed when he bought them. Bill spent tens of thousands of dollars on items that were worth less than a penny on the dollar.
Another one of the gimmicks some of these companies use is to Silver, Gold, or Platinum plated, regular issue US coins. Bill had a collection of Gold and Platinum State Quarters, and New Presidential Dollars that he purchased from a few of these companies. The Presidential Dollars were being sold for $9.95 each, and touted as an unbelievable bargain. Really? They take a regular issue dollar, and plate it with less than 2 cents worth of gold or platinum, and sell it to an unsuspecting customer for almost $10 dollars?
And those State Quarters? They will be worth a quarter for lifetimes to come. They minted billions of them. Gold plated, silver plated, platinum plated, makes no difference, the additional plating is worth less than 2 cents.
But Bill isn't alone. There are countless people falling for the sales pitches of companies like the Franklin Mint, American Mint, and the Home Shopping Channels. Billions of dollars are being bilked from under-informed buyers like Bill every year.
So Bill Johnson did lose his entire life savings of tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing what turned out to be face-value items, or worse, absolutely worthless metal slugs containing pennies worth of precious metal, simply by slick, and purposely misleading statements and advertising.
One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening to you, is to simply ask the company you are thinking of buying an item from, what their return, or buy back policy is. If you are purchasing any coin, or numismatic item, a reputable company will ALWAYS purchase or repurchase the items from you, or at least give you an appraisal of those items. Especially if originally purchased from them. Beware of any company that offers only a 30 day refund, and especially beware of any company that will NOT buy back any of the items they sell, or refuse to appraise the value of those items. That is a warning sign that they are truly worthless.
For example, I personally sent an email to the Franklin Mint requesting information about their return/buyback policies. This is what I received back:
"Thank you for your email.
While our policy is to accommodate our collectors' requests whenever possible, the Franklin Mint does not buy back collectibles. Please also note that The Franklin Mint offers a 30 day cancel/return policy.The Franklin Mint does not have the facilities to appraise, evaluate, or track the aftermarket value of our products. Due to constant fluctuations in the collectibles market, we are unable to quote current prices. Nor do we recommend or endorse any agency or company in the secondary market. We hope this information has been helpful.
Sincerely, Elizabeth Jennings
So these companies are more than willing to sell you these "valuable" items, but unwilling to buy them back, and go so far as to refuse to offer any valuation of the items. RUN RUN RUN away from any company that cannot stand behind the products that they sell.
The lesson here is to be an informed buyer. Don't buy anything from any company that is unwilling to buy the items back. A true investment is one that you are able to buy, and sell easily and quickly, and although there are never any guarantees of future value, buying from a reputable dealer who will offer a free appraisal of the items, will certainly be a big help.
Charlton Coins will always repurchase the items we sell, at fair market prices. While no investment is guaranteed to have a high rate of return, our professional team of experts can certainly help you avoid costly mistakes and steer you in the right direction to make informed buying decisions.
Charlton Coins - A leading buyer and seller of coins, coin collections and estates, silver, gold, and platinum bullion. 508.335.6788
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Here's a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding US silver coins:
#1 What US coins contain silver, and how much silver content is there in each? How do I tell if my coins are silver?
- All US Dimes 1964 and older contain 90% silver content, or .07234 oz. of silver.
- All US Quarters 1964 and older contain 90% silver content, or .18084 oz. of silver.
- All US Half Dollars 1964 and older contain 90% silver content, or .36169 oz. of silver.
- All US Dollars 1935 and older contain 90% Silver, or .77344 oz. of silver.
*A few additional US coins that have some silver content:
- Kennedy Half Dollars 1965-1970 contain 40% silver content, or .14179 oz. of silver.
- Jefferson Wartime Nickels 1942-P thru 1945-S contain 35% silver content, or .05626 oz of silver.
#2 How do I figure out how much each silver coin is worth?
All one has to do to figure out the silver content value of each coin is take the current silver bullion price, and multiply that by the silver content of each coin. Keep in mind this will be the retail value of the silver coins, and not the wholesale, or trade-in value of the coins. More on this later. Today silver closed at $18.13/ounce. So let me give you a couple examples.
Example #1: A 1964 Roosevelt Dime $18.13 x .07234 = $1.31
Example #2 A 1950 Franklin Half Dollar $18.13 x .36169 = $6.55
That is the simplest way to figure out the current retail silver value of each of your coins.
The way dealers figure out the value of silver coins is to use a Face Value multiplier. When you call a dealer to get an estimate of your silver coins value, they will typically quote you a Face Value multiplier for a price. In otherwords, a silver half dollar has a retail value of approximately 13 times it's face value, based upon today's silver price of $18.13. And this multiplier will change with silver price fluxuations. Here's how the dealer would figure it out.
Example #1 Silver Half Dollar .36169 x $18.13 = $6.55, $6.55/.50(face value) = 13.1
Example #2 Silver Quarter .18084 x $18.13 = 3.28, $3.28/.25 = 13.1
This is just a shortcut dealers use to quickly figure out the value of the silver coins without having to do a lot of complicated math. It's easy for a dealer to quote the silver value to a customer by asking how much face value in silver coins they have. The dealer can easily quote a price for your silver coins by offering a quick quote of say, 13 times face value. For example, a customer may have 500 silver dimes, or $50 face value. A dealer only has to multiply 50 x 13 = $650 to quickly figure the retail value.
One thing to keep in mind when figuring out the silver value of your coins, is that the figure you come up with is the retail value of those coins. The retail value is what the dealer would be selling those silver coins for, so if you are selling your coins to a dealer, the dealer will be offering you a wholesale value for your coins.
Typically a dealer will offer you a wholesale price, about 80%-90% of the retail value for your silver coins. A dealer will offer you closer to 80% if you only have a few coins to sell, and closer to the 90% if you have a large quantity of silver coins.
For example: Say you have $10 in face value of silver coins. The retail value at today's silver price of $18.13 is 13.1 x $10 = $131. A dealer would typically offer you 80%-90% of that 13.1 multiplier, or 10.5 - 12.0 times face value, or $105-$120, leaving the dealer a small margin for profit. A dealer must be able to make a profit, and is certainly entitled to do so, that is why they are in business. In the case that a customer has a large quantity of silver, say $1000 face value in silver coins, a dealer may be able to offer more than 80% of the retail value for that size purchase. Each dealer is different, and I always suggest calling around and checking prices.
You may also wish take into consideration the service each dealer is willing to offer you, in addition to the prices they offer for your silver coins. Some people may be willing to sell their coins at a slightler lower price, especially if a dealer is willing to come directly to you to make the transaction. First of all it saves the clients time. Secondly, it may be inconvenient or not possible for a customer to physically carry a large collection of coins to the dealer. Or perhaps a client may be concerned about the safety or security of carrying around a significant amount of coins or cash, and may feel more comfortable if the dealer is willing to come to them.
Charlton Coins always offers to come directly to the clients home, place of business, or secure agreed upon location, to make a transaction. Whatever is most convenient for the client, Charlton Coins is pleased to offer this additional service at no cost to our clients.
Charlton Coins can be reached at 508.335.6788
Friday, March 5, 2010
I saw an ad today on TV for the "$50 Gold Buffalo Tribute Proof", from the National Collectors Mint.
First thing I noticed was how "Official" sounding their name was. Like they were trying to sound trustworthy and official. I can see how many people would assume they are an authority in numismatics and are looking out for our best interest by the tone and context of their ad, but don't be fooled by official sounding names, or a crafty sales pitch.
Secondly, the very FIRST thing mentioned in the ad are facts about a coin they are NOT selling!
The advertisement starts off by telling you about the purest gold coin the US Mint ever minted, the .9999 ("four nines the ad says") of Pure 24K Gold $50 Gold Buffalo Coin. The ad then goes on to suggest that the US Mint had to stop production because they ran out of gold blanks to make any more coins out of. But, YOU can reserve your very own copy of the $50 Buffalo Tribute Gold Clad Tribute Proof in 31 mg of pure gold. How much gold is 31 mg of pure gold? Do you know? Does the average person know the value of 31 mg of pure gold? Read on to find out the actual value of 31 mg of pure gold.
The ad is misleading for several reasons. The first of which is, that the purpose of this particular advertising is to purposely mislead to you to make your own FALSE assumptions about what they are actually selling. They are telling you about the original $50 Gold Buffalo Coin, and how special it is because it is the purest gold coin ever minted by the US Mint, which it is, but that is NOT the coin this advertisement is selling! Secondly, they want you to assume that the US Mint ran out of gold blanks to make more coins out of. Since when does the US Government run out of gold? Fort knox is full of gold. This ad makes you assume that these coins are scarce.
The advertisement goes on to state that this $50 Buffalo Tribute Coin they are selling is a special release issue minted of 24K Pure Gold, a clad "masterpiece" that can be yours for just $19.95. The very next sentence mentions that this low price can only be guaranteed for a very limited time because gold is skyrocketing past $1000 per ounce. OH MY GOD you better get one right now before gold goes up or they run out of these coins!!!!!(please note sarcasm)
The entire advertisement is purposely misleading. The fact that the ad makes suggestions of scarcity, how pure the gold is in the original coin, and that these 31 mg 24K pure gold clad Tribute "materpieces" may not be available for long because gold is skyrocketing past $1000 per ounce. And you can only order a maximum of 5 of them.
There are plenty of folks out there that will fall for this type of advertising. If they are buying these tribute coins because they just want a "replica" of a coin they could not afford, ok, I have no problem with that. But...
What I understand is, that a majority of buyers are under-informed folks who fall for advertising like this because they "think" they are getting a good deal. The advertising leads them to make false assumptions about what they are actually buying. The ad makes the average person believe they are getting a scarce issue coin made of 24K gold, and it may only be available for a limited time because gold prices keep going up, and they better ACT NOW.
Here is the lesson to learn:
#1 31 mg of PURE GOLD is valued at 1.2 cents at today's gold bullion price of $1131 per ounce. This Tribute coin has less than .001 ounces of gold content. That's correct, less than a thousandth of an ounce!! Worthless.
Yup, that's corrrect, this advertisement for this Tribute coin contains less than 1.5 cents worth of gold. So why did it mention that these coins may not be around for long because gold is skyrocketing past $1000 per ounce???
#2 Advertisements with official sounding names, mentioning all kinds of facts about a coin they are NOT selling, should be a RED FLAG for anyone interested in buying coins or bullion.
#3 The National Collectors Mint is trying to sell you 1.2 cents worth of gold for $20 bucks. Is that a good deal?
One of the toughest jobs I have as a dealer is explaining to the good folks who are trying to sell me their collections is, why I am only offering them so little for some of their items, like these "replicas or copies". When they explain to me that they paid $20 or $30 dollars for these when they bought them, and they are only being offered .50 or $1 for them, they realize at that point that they had been "taken" by the slick advertising of some of these unscrupulous sellers.
Being an INFORMED buyer is crucial to being a successful collector and investor.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Throughout these blog posts you will learn the ins and outs of the hobby, from the perspective of a long time collector turned family operated business. You will learn how I started collecting wheat pennies as a young boy, and turned those very coins into my own business. You will also learn things like:
- How to get started in coin collecting.
- What should you buy and where should you buy it.
- Who can you trust?
- How to buy and sell on E-Bay.
- Learn the Art of Coin Grading.
- What determines a coin's value.
- How to determine if a coin has been cleaned, polished, or altered.
- How to start your own coin business.
And much much more. Stay tuned and please sign up to my blog for our most recent posts and information!
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them, or for any inquiries please feel to give us a call at 508.335.6788 or visit our website at: www.charltoncoins.com .
Find out how a one gallon plastic milk jug and the generosity of one individual changed my life when I was about 7 years old...