Julian Knight: Never mind the PR, postal gold is a mug's game

Now, 2010 may only be just over three weeks old, but there is already a frontrunner for The Independent on Sunday bare- faced-cheek-of-the-year award.

This dubious accolade looks like it's headed to Cash4Gold for its press release entitled "Which? Study finds Cash4Gold pays 60 per cent more than other mail-in gold buyers." Wow. 60 per cent and the Which? seal of approval – something to shout about.

Here, though, is the real story. Which? mystery-shopped the gold buying firms – often seen in daytime-TV ads. It sent three pieces of new gold jewellery to each of four mail-in gold buyers, three independent jewellers and three pawnbrokers. The results should give anyone thinking of using the mail-in gold firms pause for thought.

The consumer group said CashMyGold offered the lowest prices – just £38.57 for three pieces purchased for £729. In one case, CashMyGold offered just under £10 for a £215, 9ct bangle, while an independent jeweller quoted £54. The generous souls at Cash4Gold quoted £14.57 for the same bangle. That is indeed around 60 per cent more than the other firms, but it's only a fraction of what you could get down the road at an independent jeweller. Such firms argue that the values they give are based on the melted value of the gold rather than the resale potential of the jewellery. However, the Office of Fair Trading is to investigate several of the firms (it would be good if the OFT for a change actually named them) and is to invite users of mail-in gold firms to let it know when they feel short-changed – the OFT may be quite busy

Perhaps Cash4Gold sees its press release as positive spin, but it wouldn't fool a five-year-old. My advice would be to keep schtum rather than crowing about how it is the best of what looks like a very bad bunch.

Mutual understanding

There is real anger over Skipton Building Society's decision to raise its standard variable rate (SVR) for mortgage customers. Rates will jump from 3.5 per cent to 4.95 per cent, breaking an agreement that the society has with its borrowers that its SVR will not exceed the Bank of England base rate by more than 3 per cent.

The Skipton has done this by enacting an "exceptional circumstances" clause in its mortgage contract, with its chief, David Cutter, saying it could not keep the SVR at 3.5 per cent and still pay enough to savers to attract sufficient deposits. This is part of a trend we've been following for months; banks that couldn't care less about savers' cash in the boom years are now competing hard for deposits and, in the process, squeezing small and medium-size building societies.

I'll harrumph at any financial institution, but many building societies are in a tough place – definitely, in my view, "exceptional circumstances". It's deeply ironic that the banks that caused this mess could pick up lots of business from the mutuals – which, while not blameless, are worth preserving.

As for Skipton's borrowers, yes, look at remortgaging away – rates are more likely to rise later this year due to worrying signs of inflation (see page 89). But bear in mind that even at the new higher rate, it's still only around the industry average, and is 1.3 percentage points below the most expensive, from the Chesham Building Society.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower