Listening to Myself

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speaking, nobody pays any attention to me. My wife never listens,
and my
employees have learned to nod and smile at appropriate
times — but they don’t listen either.

When I talk to some customers, their eyes glaze over after 90
seconds, and often, one will doze off.

None of this deters me, however, as I no longer gauge success
by the level of impact on the listener. I grade myself after each
customer encounter.

was pretty good even if he didn’t react to anything,” I said. “How
could I know the fellow spoke no English? I guess I’ll have to
brush up on my
Cantonese,” I muttered to myself.)

That was the start of a difficult day and the following actually
happened. A new customer called with a challenge. He never really
gave me a chance to present my views (another non-listener). I
hope he reads what follows:

New Customer: "What would Camino Coin’s price be for 20
ounces each American Eagles, Canadian Maples, and Krugerrands?
I want the order prepaid and insured. Please fax me the net price
and if you are low dealer, you’ve got the order."

Burt: "Sir, how
many dealers will I be competing against?"

New Customer: "Let’s see, you’re
the 6th or 7th and
I’m calling one more."

I worked up some competitive prices and sent him a fax. A 60-ounce
gold order is nothing to sneeze at.

I haven’t heard from
him yet, so I presume somebody beat my numbers. Being competitive
is one thing, but if a dealer is always the
cheapest, he could be courting disaster.

I agree with the New Customer that price is very important, but
there are other things the buyer might want to consider:

1) Who is he dealing
with on the phone? Is it a commission salesman? Whom does he
talk with if there’s a problem? Most dealers don’t
want to rip anybody off. It’s when a problem comes up that you
find out what kind of folks you’re dealing with.

How does the company handle a lost shipment? Yes, all parcels
are insured, but this
is still a toughie. There’s no standard industry
policy I know of, but the customer can judge the dealership by
their demeanor when it becomes clear the coins are lost.

3) What is company
policy regarding payment? Do they require "good-funds?" If
a personal check is OK, how long before merchandise is shipped?

Does the company maintain an inventory, or are all shipments
coming from a 3rd party? (There is nothing necessarily
wrong with 3rd party fulfillment, but the buyer should
know it.)

5) What is the company’s
buy-back policy?

6) Is the company
concerned with "Privacy Issues"?
(This is a tough one to deal with by phone, but while chatting,
you can get some feeling for the dealership’s sensitivity to your

Are they on your "wave-length"? Have they heard
of Ron Paul or Harry Browne?  The salesman doesn’t need to
be a supporter of the Mises Institute — it wouldn’t hurt
— but he
should have some comprehension of "sound-money."

8) Are these fellows selling me bullion coins today at competitive
prices only to get me in their file to pressure me over rare coins
next time? Also, are they trading or selling my name to someone

Is this asking too
many questions?  Hell, no.

see, 60 ounces of gold, that’s about $22,000. You used
to be able to buy a house for that.  To the smaller buyer,
one ounce of gold is a big deal.

Don’t ask these questions after the fact.

Now that I’m on a roll, and you may still be listening, here
are some other pearls. Actually, they are more like "No-No’s."

buying bullion gold, do not buy medallions (privately minted).
Only a government
can issue coins (money). I am not being a statist
here. All I’m concerned with is liquidity for the customer. Coins
have it, medallions don’t.

any new government issues, even bullion coins.  For
example, the US Mint was considering a pure gold American coin
to replace the 22-carat Eagle. If they do and it’s as nice as
it sounds, let the new item establish itself in the marketplace
before you
buy one. Liquidity again.

any proof or mints sets produced by any mint,
especially the US Mint. These items are over-priced and can usually
be bought
a year or so later in the "after-market" for less than
the original issue price.

Don’t get suckered
by special series of coins or medallions. I have a pal who loves
antique automobiles and purchased a series
of 100 medallions honoring these junkers. With what they cost him,
he might have bought a real Mercedes.

When selecting a coin dealer, his reputation should always be
top priority. But be sure you have the right dealer for
the right occasion. You may have a terrific coin shop in your neighborhood,
but he may not be the right fellow to sell you 10 Krugerrands. Division
of labor.

Finally, never do
any business by phone — unless you initiate
the call.

a sec: I think I already told you that last week. My
apologies. Now I know why people stop listening.

Burt Blumert [send him mail] is publisher of, president of the Center for Libertarian Studies, and proprietor of Camino Coin. See Burt’s Gold Page.

Burton S. Blumert Archives


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