Buyers feel cheated over Mandela coins

13 November 2019 - 10:18
By AND Thuli Zungu
Ahmed Kathrada holding a coin launched by South African Mint and Nelson Mandela Foundation in  2014 in Johannesburg. Today  some buyers of the coins are complaining that they have been deceived by Gold for Life who allegedly sell them the coins under the pretence of investment but only to find out later that they had been tricked  by the company./ GALLO IMAGES
Ahmed Kathrada holding a coin launched by South African Mint and Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2014 in Johannesburg. Today some buyers of the coins are complaining that they have been deceived by Gold for Life who allegedly sell them the coins under the pretence of investment but only to find out later that they had been tricked by the company./ GALLO IMAGES

"Don't believe Gold for Life company when they tell you their Mandela coin is a good investment, it's a lie," warns Thuhwane Tsetseoa, who claimed the company misled him when he bought the coin.

Tsetseoa claimed the Gold Life made him to believe that he was buying the coin for investment not for sentimental value as the company allegedly later told him.

Tsetseoa 49, of Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, said he felt betrayed by the company which took his R35,000 under false pretences.

The father of three said while working for the department of trade and industry he and some colleagues were approached by representatives of Gold for Life through the department's human resources division.

The employees were told their coins would provide a sense of security and never advised of the downside of it.

"We were advised that gold had became a trendy investment and nothing would go wrong with the Mandela coins in this millennium," Tsetseoa said.

Many employees fell for it and bought their gold after they were advised that they could be purchased over five years in monthly installments while they keep them in their possession, he said.

Tsetseoa said after paying his final installment and was in need of cash he then asked Gold for Life to sell them for him as they had previously told them they could do so. He said he was shocked when told its value had depreciated to R11,000 and that they would not be selling it for him.

"Instead, I was told I was buying it for sentimental value and it was not an investment," Tsetseoa said.

He said it was only then that he noticed that they were a rip-off when he visited the company's website.

Tsetseoa said he also noticed there there were similar complains on Hellopeter.com, an internet portal in which consumers vent about bad service from service providers.

Isaac Peters wrote on Hellopeter.com that he too was a victim of misrepresentation which lured him to enter into a contract with Gold for Life . He claimed that he bought the Mandela coin at R36,000. His payment was done through a debit order from his personal account.

"I have decide to cancelled the contract because of incorrect information provided to me by the Golf for Life consultant," Peters said.

He said their contract stipulated that if a buyer cancelled the contract they would have to pay an undetermined administration fee.

After paying the administration fee of R2,500, he was only refunded R23,960 with no explanation of why they were entitled to a further R6,040, according to Peters.

"Gold for Life failed to proof to me how do they arrived to the amount R6,040. I think they took my money illegally because the contract did not stipulate any amount," he said.

Another alleged victim who asked not to be named wrote on Hellopeter.com that he was told by the company that he would get his coins 45 days after paying his final installment.

"I was told it would take 45 days for them to be available. I have been [making] following-up but they are avoiding my emails and calls. I am frustrated by the lack of feedback and response and am wondering if this is not a scam!!!" he wrote.

Johannes Mavuso, a clients service manager at Gold for Life, said Tsetseoa purchased a Mandela set in 2014 in terms of an agreement of sale.

"It's not correct that he invested with our company. Gold for Life is in the business of selling coins/medallions, does not have investors and does not give investment advice," Mavuso said.

He said the clients simply purchased medallions at the going purchasing price. He said they also had no control over the market price and the agreement gives no representations as to what the coins will be worth over a period.

Mavuso added that although Gold for Life attempts to act as a market maker in respect of coins which it sells, their ability to trade exchange these coins at a later date will be determined by the specific market conditions prevailing at the time of the proposed trade exchange.

He said this also included, but is not limited, to supply and demand, gold price and exchange rate. Investing in gold is a long term commitment.

"Tsetseoa is also not committed to selling the coin/medallions through us."

Responding to complaints which appear on Hellopeter.com, Nadia Rampersad - the head of credit control at Gold for Life said they have had tens of thousands of satisfied clients over many years.

"There are unfortunately always a few dissatisfied clients, most of whose complaints are not justified," Rampersad said. She said they were in the business of selling coins.

"People regard gold coins as an investment. However, the complainant seems to believe he can cash them in with us which was, of course, never part of the sale nor our agreement to purchase," Rampersad said.

"...it is our policy, as in any business, not to allow clients to cancel agreements or refund the purchase price after sales are made."

Rampersad, however, could not explain why Peters was an exception.