God bless Rob Cockerham. He's a reality hacker who conducts prankish experiments to test the limits of corporate intelligence and behavior. He's a national treasure and a personal hero. In 2006 I blogged about his credit card application experiment and the scary results.
This time around, Rob prank-tested GoldKit.com, an outfit that asks you to send them your "scrap gold" in exchange for a check:
I called the 800 number and was connected to a very nice gal. She was very polite and asked for my name, address and phone number. She promised to send a "Gold Kit".
A few days later, their package arrived. It was a business reply envelope, a thick plastic bag, and a brochure about the gold recycling. I was ready to go!
Actually, I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to write an article about how incredibly terrible their offering price is. Unfortunately, they don't actually tell you how much they pay for used gold.
The look and frequency of their television commercials did nothing to establish them as a legitimate market-rate merchant of precious metals, so I was not at all surprised that they didn't name their price.
Lippencott employs the following system:
* You send in your gold items.
* Lippencott decides what they will pay for the items.
* Lippencott sends you a check in the mail.
* If the check is acceptable, you cash it. If not, send the check back and they will return your gold.
To test their system and discover their exchange price, I should have sent in a known quantity of pure gold.
Unfortunately, real gold is very rare, and hella expensive. Even after checking the whole recycling bin and both garbage cans, I found that I had absolutely no gold scraps in the house.
I grabbed some doo-dads out of the junk drawer and some gold spray-paint out of the garage.
Soon I had a gold bottle cap, a gold stem from a bunch of grapes, a gold pop-top, a gold zip-tie, a gold 'S' hook, a gold nut and the elusive gold nickel.
In all, a nice sack of treasure!
Visit Rob's site, Cockeyed.com for the rest of the story.