SEATTLE – The Washington Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement today with an Auburn business that sold precious metals online but allegedly failed to deliver the items by the promised date.
“Silence may be golden but not when consumers are waiting to hear when their precious metals will be delivered,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “Today’s settlement requires that Northwest Territorial Mint honor its promises to deliver on time or offer a fair refund.”
Under the terms of the settlement filed today in King County Superior Court, Northwest Territorial Mint will pay $20,000 in civil penalties and nearly $38,000 in state attorneys’ fees and costs.
Northwest Territorial Mint sells gold and silver bullion, coins, medallions, knives, lapel pins and other items online at www.nwtmint.com and at a storefront in Auburn. The company also mints some of its own products.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in February, accused the company and its president, Ross Hansen, of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act by misrepresenting delivery dates, enforcing an unfair refund policy and failing to respond to consumer complaints.
According to the state’s complaint, Northwest Territorial Mint and Hansen repeatedly failed to ship items within the company’s represented time frame. Consumers who complained to the Attorney General’s Office waited months before their bullion was delivered.
Northwest Territorial Mint did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to fully disclose its delivery and refund policies, deliver products on time and offer refunds for delayed shipments. Consumers who request refunds for bullion orders that have not arrived by a promised date will be compensated at the market price or purchase price, whichever is higher.
The company will also advise consumers of the risk associated with buying precious metals and make timely responses to consumer inquiries. Consumers who have questions about the settlement can contact the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.
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Media Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725
Paula Selis, Senior Counsel, (206) 464-7662