Regardless of your investing experience in the world of precious metals, you'll always need to lookout for signs that you're working with the right company.
While there are undoubtedly many great options out there, there are also many other companies that are only around to try to take as much money from you as possible. Knowing which type of company you are dealing with is a must for any good investor.
One of the newer companies in the precious metals investing market is Acre Gold. Generally advertising itself as a company designed with lower-income investors in mind, it tends to focus on a segment of the market ignored by many others.
Whether that's a good thing, though, depends on the legitimacy of the company. To figure out whether the company is legitimate, we've taken a look at what the company does and how its customers have reacted to doing business with them.
Important note before we begin:
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About Acre Gold
Unlike many other gold companies, Acre Gold was actually designed from the ground up by a group of tech entrepreneurs. Their goal wasn't just to make investments but to disrupt the gold market in general. Doing so required changing the way that gold is sold and creating an open market for gold sales.
Acre Gold has two headquarters, one in Santa Monica and the other in Boise. Regardless of which campus on which employees work, they all claim that the company's goal is to make investing in gold easy, straightforward, and as safe as possible.
One of the significant ways in which Acre Gold stands out is through its gold subscription service. This service is a little different than you might assume, though. The subscription service saves your money towards future gold purchases rather than sending you specific coins or investing your money in a particular way.
What happens when you hit the mark where gold is affordable? Well, if you manage to break the price threshold for 2.5 grams, you'll get a 2.5-gram bar of gold in the mail - no checking prices necessary.
1. Pricing Concerns
One of the most vital things that investors need to know about buying gold is the price. Acre Gold, however, doesn't tell buyers how they price their bullion. While market value is easy enough for most users to find, it's virtually impossible to determine how much Acre Gold charges for gold or why they charge that price.
As you might imagine, you're not going to get gold at market price from Acre or any other company. Almost every gold company marks up gold, usually at five percent or less. The fact that Acre Gold isn't up-front about its pricing is definitely quite unusual.
2. Fees and Subscriptions
In theory, Acre Gold succeeds by keeping an awful lot of gold on hand. While gold is in fairly high demand these days, the company has done its best to create its stockpile. Given the economic uncertainty of the last few years, though, it's not that surprising that the company isn't always able to keep up with demand.
So, how does Acre Gold make its subscriptions work? For the most part, it's through low prices. You can subscribe at a thirty or fifty-dollar price point, then let your account build up to the point where you can afford gold. This is a bit like a dedicated savings account, and it's usually targeted at those who can't afford to invest with other companies.
There is also a one hundred dollar subscription offer for those with a bit more cash, but even that subscription functions similarly. The only significant difference is that you'll save up for a five-gram bar, with the rest of your money credited back to your account to save up for the next bar.
Most of the complaints against the company don't just claim that the company is a scam. A relatively high number of them have happened in the last year, which is telling mainly because the company doesn't have any positive reviews to offset the negative attention.
So, what do customers say? One subscription customer claims that they were signed up for the fifty-dollar tier, which charged them fifty dollars per month plus a transaction fee. After four months of subscriptions, they still couldn't look at their accounts online or even figure out if they could buy gold. This led the customer to consider contacting an attorney so they could take legal action against Acre.
A different customer paid their subscription fees and even made it to a level at which the customer should theoretically have been able to purchase a 2.5-gram bar of gold. Once the customer hit that level, though, the company went completely dark, and they couldn't reach anyone in the customer service department.
While this might seem like bad timing, the story gets worse. All of the customer's emails were returned because the customer service email didn't have a valid domain name. There was no phone number listed for Acre on the website, either, leaving the customer unable to find a way to contact anyone. This customer also planned to bring a suit against Acre Gold, which could only be done after digging enough to find the company's physical address.
A third customer had a somewhat different complaint. This customer was trying to cancel their gold subscription, which should have been easier than trying to buy gold. In this case, the company refused to have a customer service agent respond to the customer's requests and charged the customer's card monthly.
This story continues to worsen, as the customer claims they never actually gave Acre the permission the company needed to charge their card. It's not even evident if the customer had a valid subscription in the first place. As with the previous customer, there was no response when this customer tried to email the company for help.
Another complaint alleges that a customer could never get any information about how much money they had in their account or how much gold would cost. Again, this customer complained that Acre Gold refused to respond to any e-mails that the customer sent. Despite the company's promise to give information about the amount of money in their account, they receive nothing but silence from Acre Gold.
We know no company is perfect, and not every customer is always happy, but these customer experiences are a sign of caution for anyone.
Red Flags To Be Aware Of
Lousy customer service is one thing, but it's not the only thing to be aware of when dealing with this company. Unfortunately, there are some other red flags of which you'll want to be mindful of.
One major problem is that many customers have had problems closing their accounts. One customer claims that they went through the closing process at least four times, and even then, their card would continue to get charged.
Even worse, there's actually a twenty-dollar cancellation fee, so it's quite possible that you could pay to cancel your account, then find that it's impossible actually to get the account closed. Given that it seems impossible to contact customer service for this company, that means that your card will continue to get charged.
A reliable investment company will never charge your card without your consent. Even if the company could technically do so, most companies won't risk alienating potential customers by adding more charges. This, coupled with the hidden fees, makes Acre Gold look incredibly shady.
Another big issue about which you should be aware is the irresponsible handling of customer accounts. What Acre Gold says about their accounts and what customers experience never really seem to line up. Many users have shown Acre's claims of regular account updates to be nothing more than a bit of advertising misdirection.
Customers get a link to manage their subscriptions, which takes them to a client portal that shows all of their transactions histories. Though the company claims that these links often get lost in the Spam folder, the truth is that making it harder to find information is never a good thing.
Quite frankly, it's not normal for an investment company to make it challenging for a customer to view their own information. This, coupled with the fact that the company doesn't help customers recover lost accounts or access their accounts via phone, makes it hard to trust the company.
Finally, there's the matter of customer support. Simply put, the company doesn't seem to mind if customers lose access to their accounts or have any problems. According to several customer complaints, there is no listed phone support here, and the email support team is notoriously unreliable.
If you do happen to receive a response from the company, you shouldn't expect it to be too informative. The company won't tell you how much gold bullion will cost if you buy from them, for example, or what the price of gold might be that day. While the company claims it can't provide that information because of price fluctuations, that's not something that seems to impact other investment companies.
At this point, customers are left with two potential options. First, the company is not competent to do what almost every other gold company does with ease. The other is that the company is being purposefully difficult in its pricing process.
Pros and Cons
Final Thoughts - Is Acre Gold Legit?
Acre Gold has a good mission statement if nothing else. It's nice to see a company helping people invest in gold when the costs are so high, and the idea of a subscription savings service that can allow an individual to invest in gold certainly is novel.
With that said, the company doesn't seem to function all that well. They make it hard to get in contact with them, hard to get information, and hard to manage an account. Whether it's because the company purposefully makes it hard to find its account portal or because they won't answer any emails, things just don't work as they should.
Finally, it's nearly impossible to recommend this company because of management issues and an overall lack of transparency. There's no guarantee that you'll even get any gold for the money you invest, making Acre Gold one of the few gold companies that will not only not protect your wealth but that may well purposefully hurt your bottom line.
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