Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cash4Gold's Response to LA Times Article

LA Times Unwilling to Correct False and Misleading Article About Cash4Gold

The Los Angeles Times on Feb. 6 published an article about Cash4Gold that contained false and misleading information and misquoted Cash4Gold's CEO in a material way, which significantly altered the meaning of what he said. Cash4Gold sent the newspaper a detailed letter outlining the many errors in the story and calling on The Times to immediately post a correction to the article in print and online.

Cash4Gold also requested that the newspaper follow-up with other media outlets to ensure that corrections are appended to subsequent stories that appeared which were based on the original, erroneous Times report.

Since February 12, the newspaper has refused to take the appropriate actions, despite repeated follow-up requests from Cash4Gold. Below is a copy of the letter received by the Los Angeles Times.

Green Bullion Financial Services LLC

February 12, 2009

Russ Stanton, Executive Editor
Los Angeles Times
101 W 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 91101

Dear Mr. Stanton,

I am general counsel for Green Bullion Financial Services LLC, owner of the The article, "Cash4Gold offers don't always shine" by reporter David Sarno published by the Los Angeles Times on February 6, 2009, contained false and misleading information. The article also misquoted Chief Executive Jeff Aronson in a material way, which significantly altered the meaning of what he said.

In addition, Mr. Sarno made a very serious error in his report with regards to the Florida attorney general's office. He reported that the Florida AG's office was "examining nearly 60 complaints about Cash4Gold." In fact, we have a copy of Mr. Sarno's request, in which he asked for information on the wrong company: To make matters worse, the figures he received from the AG's office included complaints filed against other companies with similar names. Due to the highly competitive space we operate in and our company's success, many unscrupulous companies have sprung up that have grabbed similar-sounding names to confuse customers. Clearly, they have also confused journalists like Mr. Sarno as well.

Finally, and most egregiously, Mr. Sarno was explicitly told by the AG's office that it was "not investigating" Cash4Gold. That key fact was not included in the report, leaving the impression to readers that Cash4Gold was operating under a cloud of suspicion and triggering other sensational and inaccurate reports.

Mr. Sarno clearly holds a negative view of direct response companies, which he describes as "quick-money schemes." He is entitled to his personal views. But publishing false or misleading statements, or deliberately omitting critical information that would be favorable to Cash4Gold, is dishonest journalism.

Given this, I want the Times to correct these mistakes in print and online, and follow up with other news organizations, in print and online, that have republished its article to ensure that they append the correction to their coverage.

Specifically, Mr. Sarno's article included the following inaccuracies or misrepresentations in a clear effort to portray Cash4Gold and its executive team in a bad light:

1. Mr. Sarno reported the complaints of two Cash4Gold customers without doing any fact-checking to determine whether their claims were correct. Neither did the reporter talk with the customers to find out whether they still held those views. It obviously makes a huge difference whether a complaint is valid or current and seems fundamental to consumer reporting. In fact, Mr. Sarno ignored evidence provided by the company that those allegations were incorrect, outdated or lacked credibility.

• In the first case, Mr. Sarno quotes Frank Poindexter claiming that he mailed Cash4Gold "150-$200 worth of gold" but "all he got back was a check for 15 cents." In fact, the company frequently receives worthless material, such as dog chains, and in those cases will send a customer a check for the value of the goods, even if it is very small. (The company uses best industry practices for testing precious metals.) The customer has the right to refuse that check, which Mr. Poindexter did, and the company sent his goods back to him. Cash4Gold informed Mr. Sarno of those facts and provided him a detailed report of the transaction with dates and a tracking number showing that Mr. Poindexter's articles were mailed to him. Instead of reporting those facts, Mr. Sarno simply repeated Mr. Poindexter's accusation, which made it appear that the company was trying to cheat him.

• In the second case, Thomas Valle claims that he had asked the company to return his gold and diamonds because he wasn't satisfied with Cash4Gold's offer, and said "it has been a month" and the jewelry hadn't arrived. In fact, Cash4Gold provided Mr. Sarno with a full report on the transaction and the tracking number with a date indicating that the jewelry had been mailed back to Mr. Valle within 11 days, as promised by the company. So to be clear, Mr. Sarno had direct evidence suggesting that Mr. Valle's complaint wasn't credible, yet he chose not to use that information. Instead, he quoted Mr. Valle's claim as if it were true, making the company appear as if it had acted in bad faith.

The only thing Mr. Sarno did was to quote chief executive Jeff Aronson stating that the company had "resolved" the two complaints. That is insufficient and clearly suggests that the company was at fault.

2. Mr. Sarno states that "The Florida attorney general's office says it is examining nearly 60 complaints about Cash4Gold." That is false, as I explained earlier in this letter. We are currently working with the attorney general's office to find out exactly how many complaints have been filed against my company, The attorney general is obliged by law to look into any complaint that it receives. That is routine business and it is irresponsible to imply otherwise. The attorney general is not currently investigating my company, as Mr. Sarno was told.

3. Mr. Sarno quotes Mr. Aronson saying the following: "Tell me one company in the world that wouldn't die for that [complaint] ratio." This leaves out a material part of the quote that renders the report false. In fact, what Mr. Aronson said was "Tell me one company in the DIRECT RESPONSE BUSINESS [Uppercase words were dropped by LA Times reporter] that wouldn't die for that ratio." Mr. Sarno knew that his edited version of the quote would make no sense for any company in the direct response business. The accurate quote fairly positions Mr. Aronson's company against its competitors. As Mr. Sarno knows, an employee for Beck Media listened in on that interview.

4. Mr. Sarno deliberately misuses the Better Business Bureau statistics to depict Cash4Gold as a company suffering a high level of customer dissatisfaction. In fact, a fair reporting of the BBB stats would show the opposite. Mr. Sarno reports that the Better Business Bureau has processed 269 complaints nationwide about Cash4Gold in the last 36 months (out of 500,000 transactions) and then compares that negatively to the complaint record of Southwest Airlines Co. That is clearly unfair, comparing a direct response jewelry company to an airline that has one of the best customer service records not only in its industry but in the corporate world. A responsible journalist would have compared Cash4Gold to direct competitors in the jewelry sector, or the Internet sales, or direct response business. For example, during that same 36 months, one of the country's leading jewelers, Kay Jewelers, had 465 complaints and DirecTV had 25,193 complaints, according to the BBB's website.

Or perhaps the reporter should have compared with the Los Angeles Times, which has an "F" rating and 277 complaints during the same period.

5. Mr. Sarno states that "Cash4Gold has tried on multiple occasions to pluck thorns from its side by pressuring bloggers who criticize its service." However, Mr. Sarno did not even ask Jeff Aronson, the chief executive, about this during his interview or include a response from the company in his article. That's shoddy and unfair journalism. Had he asked Mr. Aronson, he would have been told that the statement was wrong on several counts.

• Cash4Gold has never offered to pay any blogger to remove critical posts from a blog or website.

• Cash4Gold did not authorize Joe Laratro, or anyone else, to pay bloggers to remove critical content from their blogs or websites. Joe Laratro was an independent web consultant for Cash4Gold at the time he reached out to

• Mr. Laratro has made the following statement: "Last year when I worked as a public relations vendor for Cash4Gold, a website posted an item that unfairly represented how the company does business. Without telling anyone at Cash4Gold, I sent an email to the website,, offering to pay the site to remove or change the item. Cash4Gold was unaware that I made the offer and it was the only time I offered to pay any site to remove any comments about Cash4Gold. I am no longer a vendor for Cash4Gold."

• More to the substance of the matter, the article was inaccurate in several fundamental ways. Shouldn't Cash4Gold fight to protect its reputation against unfair reporting, whether on blogs or in the Los Angeles Times?

I am deeply concerned that Mr. Sarno's report is the result of a deep-seated bias against Cash4Gold, and his work has spawned a number of negative and potentially defamatory reports. I ask The Times to immediately post a correction to the article and follow-up with other media to ensure that the correction is appended to any material based on the Times report.

Thank you for your prompt attention.


Cathy Lerman
General Counsel
Green Bullion Financial Services, LLC

1 comment:

  1. For the duration of documented history, gold, the actual crowned king of precious metals, has been known to be the ultimate monetary exchange.

    Scrap gold jewelry