Gold Sovereign Coins from £35 Each
This was the incredible headline of a newspaper advert we saw recently*.
This price was too good to be true, particularly as it was below the scrap gold value.
Who is This Villain?*
We scrutinised the advert carefully, wondering what sort of charlatan or fraudster would use such a misleading claim in their advert. It turned out to our astonishment to be none other than the Royal Mint!
We, at Chard, believe in honesty in all our dealings, and try hard to keep all our wording as accurate and unambiguous as possible, idiot-proof being our somewhat optimistic aim. Naturally we do not expect other traders and competitors to use similar high standards, but we do expect bodies such as the Royal Mint to set a good example in their advertising, after all, if we cannot trust their written word, how can we trust the quality of their products, or their other ethical standards? They are, directly or indirectly, one of our major suppliers, and it is a potential cause of concern to us that a major supplier should publish such an unfair and misleading advert.
The Get-Out Clause
After reading all of the advert, including the small print, we concluded that the "gold sovereign coins" they were referring to were in fact half sovereigns, their sovereigns were priced at £69.95 Perhaps their marketing department have been taking lessons from Dixon's.
We brought the advert directly to the attention of the Royal Mint in 2000, and also to the trade association, the BNTA whose council considered the advert before writing to the Royal Mint to pass on our concern. Until recently (January 2011) we have had no feedback from The Mint, hardly reassuring!
We assume that when they do reply, they will say that half sovereigns are a type of sovereign. Perhaps this explanation would stand up in a Court of Law, but we are doubtful, and we still believe that the wording in the advert would be more appropriate to Barnum and Bailey than The Old Bailey.
We may be slightly old fashioned, but we believe government agencies should set a shining example of honesty in all their dealings including advertising.
Hype & Misinformation
Inaccurate Information From Our Competitors
In our web sites, we try to give you accurate, factual and historical information about all our products, including gold sovereigns.
Some of our competitors are not as careful or accurate.
It can only be a matter of time before someone telephones us to tell us our year 2000 gold sovereigns are overpriced at £65 each because the Royal Mint are selling them at only £35. They will probably take some convincing!
We will naturally advise them to read the small print of the advert, and to carefully avoid ever buying from such misleading advertisers. They would get accurate information from us, we believe in honesty and accuracy in our advertising, so they would get better information, more knowledgeable advice, and lower prices. Actually our service is usually faster, too!
We Wager a Sovereign We Are Correct
If, at any time during the many years when sovereigns and half sovereigns were in circulation, any person had made a wager, or a contract, to pay or receive a sovereign, the recipient would have been most aggrieved to have been offered a half sovereign in fulfilment. We could well imagine that the offer would lead to a bloody nose in the former case, and a lawsuit in the second. When the original agreement was mooted, neither party would have discussed what size of sovereign. The agreement would have been clearly understood by both parties to mean the gold coin with a one pound legal tender value.
* Relevant Dates & Other Information
This page was first created in or around 2000. As it is no longer a simple matter for us to determine our original publication date of text on this page, in order to ensure our comments are considered in their historical context, we note the following, and will add any more data as it becomes available:
- From the text of page we can see that we originally created it during 2000.
The page describes our thoughts as they unfolded on seeing the original advert and its headline, or clicking the link to read the full description in the later Google Adwords advert. We describe discovering that it was only a half sovereign (or quarter sovereign in the later advert), but believe that at that point the reader had already been deceived. Any reader not reading the full advert or clicking through to the target web page would almost certainly be left with the impression that (full) gold sovereigns were indeed available for only £35 or £65 respectively.
The fact that the advertiser in question was none less than the RM would induce most people to believe that the headline was honest and that the official RM price for a gold sovereign was indeed £35 (£65). By implication, any dealer charging more than £35 (£65) for their sovereigns must therefore be uncompetitive. Creating these impressions, presumably deliberately, is poor practice by the RM because it creates the wrong impression in the minds of most people, and is unfair on its competitors, who are also its customers, by wrongly making them appear to offer the same products at almost double the RM price, unless the competitors sink to the same level.
We pointed this out to the Mint, and the BNTA, as early as 2000.
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