National Collector’s Mint, does sleep come easy? July 28, 2008Posted by Robert in Corporate Shame, Humor, Social Commentary, Television.
Tags: 9/11, Avram C. Freedberg, Corporate Shame, Liberian, National Collector's Mint, Shame
Well, does it?
For the uninitiated, The National Collector’s Mint is an organization that produces keepsakes and commemoratives designed to seem like they’re genuine collectors items or fool people into thinking they’re US currency. If you read the fine print on their site (which I will not be linking to, this blog will not direct any traffic to them) it clearly states “National Collector’s Mint, Inc. is an independent, private corporation not affiliated with, endorsed, or licensed by the U.S. government or the U.S. Mint. All tributes to original coins contain the “copy” designation as mandated by federal law.” There you have it. They make fake coins out of precious metals and get people to believe that they’re making sound investments or fulfilling some semblance of patriotic duty by purchasing them.
If the name “National Collector’s Mint” sounds familiar, you might remember them from way back in 2004 when a federal judge found them guilty of “Fraud, False Advertising and Deceptive Business Practices” in regards to the sale of their “Ground Zero Commemorative Coin”. The NCM had stated that the coins were cast with silver found at Ground Zero and had a collector’s value of $49. It was found that the company had not properly stated the coins true silver content and had used the phrases “In God We Trust” and “One Dollar”. Couple that with the ad’s claims that the coins were “a legally authorized government issued silver dollar” and you’ve got yourself a court date buddy.
Well, they don’t seem to have learned their lesson. The most recent attempt by the NCM to dip into the well of money that is false patriotism is their “911 Twenty Silver Leaf Commemorative”. This item is basically a silver $20 bill emblazoned with the still standing twin towers, a standard $20 denomination on one side and on the other, get this, instead of a “20” in all corners, they use 9s on the left and 11 on the right. Get it? It adds up to $20 silly. Wow, are they clever. They’re calling this bill a “government authorized Liberian legal tender coin certificate”. Did you get that? Liberia. That’s right, the country in Western Africa right underneath Sierra Leon.
So let me get this straight. The National Collectors Mint went to the government of Liberia and said “Hey, would you mind if we gave you a bunch of money so we can print a square coin that would be legal tender in YOUR country commemorating one of the most tragic days in the history of OUR country and sell it to rubes who fall for this shit?” and then Liberia said “Sure, why the hell not, go nuts.”
Now might be a good time to tell you a bit about the founder/owner of this company. A little man by the name of Avram C. Freedberg. Avram seems to have been an entrepreneur most of his life. He started off as a distributor of pornography, and when that well dried up he decided to try his hand at the direct-mail collectable coin industry. He’s also the CEO of Maximum Entertainment Productions, a theatrical production company that boasts shows such as “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” (full disclosure, I’ve seen this one. Not bad at all) and “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. That’s quite the career swing for Mr. Freedberg. Not many people can move from pornography distribution to children’s seasonal theatre in one lifetime. Kudos. His website also boasts that his charitable contributions are upward of $1.9 Million, thanks to “NCM’s Customers.”
This got me thinking, what charities? 9/11 charities? It would only make sense seeing as how so much of his substantial fortune has been made selling cheap commemorative keepsakes bearing the images of a national tragedy. So I decided to call NCM’s corporate customer service line to find out. After waiting about 15 minutes on hold with no music and no way of knowing if I was actually holding for anyone, I heard the line ring again. A very nice woman named Barbara picked up. What follows is our conversation with tone of voice and subtext in parenthetical.
Barbara: Hello, how may I help you today? (Cheerful)
Me: Hello, is this the National Collectors Mint? (Polite)
Barbara: Yes it is. (Cheerful)
Me: Yes, I’m wondering if any of the proceeds of your 9/11 commemoratives actually go to 9/11 charities. (inquisitive)
Barbara: Yes, they certainly do. (Very cheerful)
Me: Ok, can you tell me what percentage of the proceeds? (Polite and inquisitive)
Barbara: No, I do not have that information at this time. (Short)
Me: Ok, so you don’t know how much of the proceeds to go charity. Can you tell me what charity or charities see any donations from these commemoratives? (More inquisitive)
Barbara: No, I do not have that information at this time. (Very short)
Me: Is there someone I can talk to that would have that information? (Polite)
Barbara: Not at this time. Is there anything else I can help you with? (Get me the hell off this call)
Me: No that will be all. (How can you sleep at night?)
So there you have it. They’ve given over 1.9 million to a mystery charity that cannot be mentioned and we have no idea what percentage that 1.9 million is of the whole of what they made of this tragedy.
I’m hoping it’s somewhere in he neighborhood of 100%. Because that would be the only reason why this entire company could justify it’s existence.
Congratulations Mr. Freedberg, you used to be a pornography distributor and that was the moral high-point of your career.
Video of the offending ad: