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United Gold Direct is a gold IRA company serving people throughout the US. However, there have been a few issues with them in the past. What have past customers experienced? And has this company changed anything about its approach since then?
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About United Gold Direct
United Gold Direct sells precious metals to every part of the US. They have headquarters in California and claim that they want to be a precious metals industry leader. When discussing why they chose California for their headquarters, the company owner says that it's because this is the place where the Gold Rush occurred.
The company website is very bare bones. Though they seem to have a lot of pages, most actually don't exist. It seems like they never created the website copy they needed. That's not really the best look.
When you get in contact with the company, you'll talk to a customer representative about investment. They will talk about the items they have in stock, your needs as an investor, and the benefits of precious metals. If you already have a self-directed IRA, usually the entire process takes less than three weeks.
However, there are some important notes. The representatives might not be as helpful as with some companies. Customers have reported buying items at massively marked up prices. The salespeople might work on commission, which means they have an incentive to sell you more than you need.
If you do need to set up an IRA, United Gold Direct can help you with the paperwork. They will take care of the application and tax forms in house. Since they work with your custodian, the process is streamlined.
Keep in mind, though, that United Gold Direct is far from the only company to offer this. There are many companies that specialize in precious metals IRAs, and they have a better track record with their customer base.
Once you purchase your metals, they'll be shipped to your depository of choice. Then you can look at your portfolio online. Your online portfolio will be updated with information about the value and growth of your investments. You will also be given quarterly reports on the holdings.
The United Gold Direct website says that you can call the customer service team if you have any basic questions about your account. But some of the reviews indicate that this might not work as well in practice.
United Gold Direct has been in the industry since 1996. They only started using the United Gold Direct name in 2009. Despite the long history in the industry, there have been a variety of issues.
Is United Gold Direct a Scam?
United Gold Direct isn't a scam. The company does appear to be legitimate, as it offers all the services that it claims to. It was very recently accredited with the Better Business Bureau, only having received an accreditation at the end of April in 2022.
Unfortunately, there are some indications that the company isn't managed well. Or at least, that the company wasn't managed well in the past. Government action was taken in California because the company sold about $45,000 worth of items to people. Instead of using the funds to acquire the items, the company then used those funds to pay their business expenses.
It's likely that the company managers were using the funds because they were in a pinch. However, this is a violation of law. Even if they had good intentions, this is not something you should do. It also points to issues with the company's fiscal management if they couldn't pay their expenses without misappropriating client funds.
The company did agree that they would refund all three clients once they had the funds. It's not clear whether this has happened yet. They were not ordered to shut down, and they don't seem to have any additional litigation against them. Hopefully they've fixed whatever caused this to happen in the first place.
But that is a serious breach of trust. Even if the company seems to have improved, knowing that they've misappropriated funds once isn't encouraging. After all, how can you be sure that they won't do the same with your payment? There are plenty of competitors that have never been accused of using client funds for inappropriate expenses.
On top of the litigation, there are many extremely negative reviews from customers online. Consumers say that they had terrible experiences with the customer service team, that the items they were shipped were subpar quality, and that the refund process was a massive hassle.
On a lesser note, the company website is also very difficult to navigate. The homepage doesn't load quickly. When you try to navigate to any of the pages about the company, you're met with a 404 error. This makes it seem like the company isn't even finished building their website. But they've been in business for long enough that the website shouldn't still be under construction.
It's relatively difficult to find reliable reviews of United Gold Direct online. Many of the reviews that do exist are not very flattering.
One scathing BBB review was from a customer who said that the company refused to help him with a refund. He took gold out of his account because of a family emergency. But weeks went by without payment. His emergency led to multiple late fees and missed payments since the gold never came.
This might have been one of the customers who had their funds misappropriated. If not, then this is a further pattern of mismanagement. Apparently the customer had a special needs child, so the transfer needed to be done immediately with no checks. But the customer was beginning to feel like the company had acted with malice in delaying the payment.
He said that when he spoke to the customer service representatives, they were polite. But they were never helpful. They didn't make any effort to speed up his payment, and he still hadn't gotten his money when he concluded his review.
There are several complaints that have been left with Ripoff Report as well.
One Ripoff Report says that the person made a payment, but they didn't get their purchase. They then discovered that the price of their purchase was 70% higher than it was with a competing wholesaler.
Another customer ordered gold over the phone and was told it would take multiple weeks. But once those weeks had elapsed, there was still no sign of the shipment. The customer called to ask what was going on. They were never able to get a call back. The customer then tried to cancel their order, but the representative refused, saying that this was a normal wait time.
When the customer went to the BBB to complaint, they discovered that United Gold Direct was not accredited with the organization. (They did become accredited at the end of April in 2022.) The customer was told that they couldn't receive a refund, so they tried to contact the company owner.
The company owner said that the order was being processed. So the customer called the state of California. They are likely one of the ones who was quoted when California engaged in litigation against the company. That shows that the company was lying to the customer about the wait time; the funds had been used for different expenses.
Pros & Cons of United Gold Direct
United Gold Direct seems like it should have a great business setup. Their Facebook page has thousands of dedicated followers. They do seem to have good educational resources about precious metals. But there are so many major red flags that we can't wholeheartedly recommend them.
The most important red flag is the litigation. California took action because the company misappropriated $45,000 in funds from three different clients. These clients made a purchase but never had it fulfilled. The company did agree to pay back the clients whenever the funds were available.
That's a major sign of poor management and dishonesty. On top of that, there's not much transparency regarding the company itself. It's very difficult to find out who owns the operation or who manages it. Without knowing about the team managing the company, it's very easy for them to avoid responsibility.
Many customers have left scathing one-star reviews and complaints about the service. They say that it's impossible to get a call back about any issues. They also say that there were shipping delays, rude salespeople, and items arriving in poor condition.
Finally, the website is in disarray. It's impossible to navigate between different pages because less than half of the pages are finished. You just get redirected to an Error 404 page. Not only is that frustrating, but it makes it impossible to learn about the company itself.
For all of these reasons, we can't recommend United Gold Direct. They don't offer anything that you can't find with a different company. And there are about a thousand reasons to avoid working with them. It's better to work with a company that has positive customer feedback and no government action taken against them.
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