Ben Popken and Meg Marco at the Consumerist wrote a 3,500-word muckraking blog post examining the business practices of Cash4Gold, the company that pays “top dollar” for your unwanted gold trinkets. The company’s pitch has aired in commercials nationwide — including during the Super Bowl.
Blogs are often viewed as venues that pilfer and riff off the media but don’t dig up original information of their own. Here’s an example that bucks that perception. Ben and Meg tested the company’s claims that it pays top dollar for your unwanted gold trinkets and discovered consumers can actually make more money selling their goods at pawn shops. Cash4Gold has sued the Consumerist, which is owned by Consumer Reports, but it hasn’t backed down.
It’s often more difficult to examine the practices of a company than a government agency. Open government laws apply to — you guessed it — government. Not businesses. So it’s much more difficult to get documents like candid internal e-mails that you’d usually be entitled to read at a government agency.
Ben and Meg relied partly on former employees at Cash4Gold. And they also know the activities of companies often intersect with government — and that’s where you can dig up nuggets of information. Here’s an example where they turned to government records to check the allegations of former employee Michele Liberis:
We also delved into Liberis’ specific allegations. At one point, for example, her post asserted that Cash4Gold “was temporarily closed recently due to health and code violations.” In its blog, Cash4Gold says this is “entirely false.” Yet a check with the Pompano Beach Fire Prevention Bureau turned up numerous citations at Aronson’s business location at 1701 Blount Rd., where Liberis worked. These included having no fire alarm system, fire extinguisher violations, blocked exits, exposed wiring, compressed gas cylinder violations, and items stored too close to electrical panels. Fire inspector Aaron Efferstein adds that they had three fires at the location, including one that set the roof ablaze.
The public values this kind of watchdog reporting. It doesn’t matter if it’s on a blog, a TV station, or a newspaper. Here’s a comment on the post that takes the cake:
I tried to find a more business like way to say I wholeheartedly support you guys for fighting back against Cash4Gold, but I couldn’t come up with one, so here was my first reaction:
Thank you consumerist for stand up for consumers rights and not bowing down to legal pressure from Cash4Gold and other companies that deserve to burn in hell.
I love this site and it makes me proud that you guys are standing your ground and fighting for the consumers.
You guys simply reek of awesomeness.