MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - With 25 shows nationwide and a 15-year history, you'd think you might strike gold at the Treasure Hunters Roadshow.
Instead, you might strike out.
The Illinois-based traveling show of gold, jewelry and antique-buyers (THR & Associates) visited two Memphis-area hotels in the last month. THR's Eric Helms told the Action News 5 Investigators his company typically pays 30 to 50 percent higher than jewelers or other retail jewelry buyers in the areas where they set up shop.
To put THR to the test, the Action News 5 Investigators arranged to have four items of scrap gold priced by Gene Coradini of Coradini Fine Jewelers in Collierville, TN. Coradini is a Better Business Bureau-accredited jeweler with an A+ rating (click here for Coradini's BBB report: http://www.bbb.org/memphis/business-reviews/jewelers-retail/coradini-fine-jewelers-in-collierville-tn-22002795).
Coradini confirmed the items were indeed gold and offered $662.
Two Action News 5 producers working undercover took the items to the Treasure Hunters Roadshow. After testing them for authenticity, Helms offered $419.40.
That's 37 percent LESS than what Coradini offered for our scrap gold.
"Most of these people are offering less than or the same as a pawn shop," said Coradini.
At least one pawn shop offered a better price than THR.
We took our gold to Advantage Pawn Shop, 1510 E. Shelby Dr. in Whitehaven. It offered $460 for it, ten percent more than THR.
"Well, I don't know who you went to, and I don't know why they gave you that price, OK?" said Helms. "I can't challenge you on that particular item because I don't know who you're talking about.
"We do tend to pay the highest, and we do tend to pay above everybody else in the area."
THR & Associates has a B+ rating with the Central Illinois BBB (click here for the report: http://www.bbb.org/central-illinois/business-reviews/antique-dealers/thr-and-associates-in-athens-il-9003863). According to the bureau, customers have complained about the roadshow bouncing checks issued as payment for their coins, jewelry and antiques. The bureau is also challenging a Roadshow ad that claims it offers the "highest prices paid."
Action News 5 also raised concerns about the Roadshow's ads in the Commercial Appeal. The ads were made to look as if they were news stories, complete with bylines of reporters listed as "staff writers."
THR's Vice President Jason Delong said they're just ads, period. He also said the bounced checks were due to a six-figure deposit that was temporarily put on hold. Delong said THR eventually reimbursed each customer whose check bounced.
The Central Illinois BBB confirmed THR settled those complaints.
"We see about 400,000 people a year and had eight complaints in 15 years, so I would say those are pretty good numbers," Delong said.
Whether it's a local jewelry-buyer or a traveling road show, don't settle for just one price. Shop multiple jewelers, pawn shops, antique-buyers and appraisers. Get prices the same way you would get estimates for a car repair or home improvement project, then pit those prices against each other. Haggle for the best price.
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