Like thousands of other businesses across the country, Newspapers are strapped for income; a huge part of that deficiency is derived from advertising revenues. Has this hardship caused mainstream media to take on advertisers with both bad reputations and questionable ads? It appears so in the case of Charleston WV Newspaper(s) and their advertiser “World Reserve Monetary Exchange.”
On page 14(A) of todays Charleston Gazette (morning) and Charleston Daily Mail (afternoon) Newspapers, ran a full page advertisement for a company called “World Reserve Monetary Exchange Inc.” This ad clearly gives the appearance that it is an actual news story by the newsroom and will fool some people into believing it to be true news-reporting journalism. But, if you have the time to look closer at the small print at the top or bottom header, you can see the name of the actual advertiser that lists an address in N. Canton Ohio.
So if it looks like age is finally going to put money in your pocket?… Not so fast!
This ad claims that if you are 52 or older you can buy their "AT 1 Armored Safe" for only $281.00 and also receive what Bart Carr of World Reserve Vaults claims is “the big surprise.” A bag with over 1,000 US Government issued coins inside every one of these Armored Safes. But, you only have 36 hours for this offer which ends Tuesday evening August 23, 2011 at 8pm...Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc.
Anyone under 52 can purchase a safe too, but for the full price of $436.00 plus $52.88 shipping and NO bag of money inside. No great offer there.
The real problem with this sales gimmick is not just the thousands of complaints already filed against this company across the US for false advertising tactics since at least 2005, it’s the appearance of these advertisements that look like actual newspaper stories written by the newsroom staff. This specific offer now is the exact opposite of the last one where the company was offering customers a free armored safe if you purchased their bag of alleged rare coins and or paper money. When customer complaints started, they switched the sales pitch to this new one where you buy the safe and get the bag of money for free.
Several State Attorney Generals Offices from the east to west coast already have ongoing investigations against this company because of public outcry and complaints from people who have been suckered into similar sales advertisements like the one published in the Charleston Newspapers.
This company and their advertising tactics are not new to newspaper media. Back in 2005, Roanoke Times reporter Andrew Kantor in Roanoke Virginia called the advertisement they ran in that paper as being “full of breathless prose and questionable tactics.” He went on to say how the deceiving ads are designed to look like a full page news article and appear to be news stories, except for the tiny word "Advertisement" at the top. He writes also that another deceiving tactic used is the official-sounding "World Reserve Monetary Exchange."
World Reserve Monetary Exchange is also well known for sales of alleged “rare coins” all across the US. And they have the complaints across the nation to prove it.
With one quick internet search, we found 127 complaints from people who took the trouble to go online and write out their grievances. The most common complaints range from never receiving the coins, to WRME only sending certificates instead of coins. Complaints that the company is offering coins and paper money that do not even exist or they have affixed decals to.
A February 2010 Newsweek article advised readers that these Two Dollar collectible bills were no more than official US currency with stickers placed on them to convert them into a State Specific version of the Bills. Other serious allegations include customer credit cards were not only overcharged, but still receive monthly billings for additional products that they never authorized. (See links below)
We spoke to Sylvia Barnes whose elderly mother purchased one of these safes in Oregon, she has since learned from other victims in the “bag of money” scam that even the pictures used in the paid newspaper advertisements that are suppose to depict real families and their testimonies about the safes. But, in reality they are actually staged local actors and or employees of World Reserve Monetary Exchange.
“This is nothing but high pressure sales on the elderly by a false sense of endorsement from the appearance of the add being a true newspapers story, the sales pitch of the high crime factor, the free bag of money and only a few hours to act on it.”
Complaints and ethical questions against this company are not new. World Reserve Monetary Exchange has been around for years. You can Google them and find all of the alarming stories and complaints against them. This World Reserve Monetary Exchange “scampaign” is definitely targeting older people 52 and over with this latest advertisement guaranteeing a free bag of money when you buy one of their safes at a discounted rate if you act in 36 hours. If your under 52 years of age, you can buy it at full price and pay shipping.
Many newspapers have rules requiring the prominent labeling of ads so that readers can clearly tell the material doesn't come from the newsroom. Journalists work hard to be seen as free from conflicts of interest in their reporting on businesses, and if readers can't easily tell the ads from the news, the news itself may be seen as less trustworthy.
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Advertisers often press news media to present retail pitches as objective reporting because it enhances an ad's persuasive power, but journalism ethics require clear separation of the two functions.Kelly McBride, who teaches journalism ethics to reporters and editors at the Poynter Institute, a journalism training center in St. Petersburg, Fla., put it this way in a recent conversation with Grade the News: "If one reader ends up feeling duped, the newspaper’s credibility is diminished."
This ad is at least deceiving insomuch as it appears as an actual journalistic story written by newsroom staff. If your lucky enough to see the fine print at the top and or bottom you may figure it out that its just a paid advertisement.
Why would mainstream media run these questionable looking ads by companies with bad reputations?? Try hundreds of thousands a year in advertisement revenues.
The full page ad that ran in both Charleston Newspapers cost an estimated $11,000.
End of Story
Example Of Complaints Against World Reserve Monetary Exchange