The Consumerist reports on the case of the Federal Trade Commission fining National Collector’s Mint $750,000 for deceitful trade practices in selling a gold-plated medal as an “exclusively authorized” 9/11 commemorative dollar. Not only had this private mint not received any authorization from the U.S. Government to mint a coin, the U.S. Mint is the only entity allowed to mint U.S. currency.
The Federal complaint also detailed how the phone system at National Collector’s Mint would not allow people to bypass multiple up-sell attempts, and was deliberately designed to be confusing, resulting in many people being charged for items that they never ordered. “The defendants allegedly failed to provide the total cost of the purchase, a breakdown of the items ordered, and critical refund policy terms, and their lengthy and confusing ordering system resulted in many consumers receiving products they did not order,” explains the FTC.
The FTC says that National Collector’s Mint also made the return policy opaque and difficult, requiring a live personal authorization for returns over $100, but many customers complained to authorities that they were unable to ever get a live person on the phone.
According to the New York Post, National Collector’s Mint made over $22 million from this commemorative dollar “coin,” and remains unrepentant over the whole thing. Lawyer for the defendants, Sheldon Lustigman, declared “We think it’s a ridiculous position. There was no confusion of any kind whatsoever. We don’t think anybody was at all mislead.” He continued “It’s the old story of the [US] Mint not liking competition – that’s what it really amount to.”
Apparently, they feel that $750,000 is just the price of doing $22 million of business