A North Vancouver couple regrets attending an Antiques Roadshow-style event after the cheque they received for their antique coins bounced.
Roger and Veronica Bernier took their collection of old quarters and silver dollars to the International Coin Collectors show held at the Best Western Capilano Hotel April 17-21.
"We were pleased to receive a cheque for $250 - until it was declined," said Veronica Bernier in a letter to the North Shore News. "Now we are out our coins plus the $7.50 bank charge!"
International Coin Collectors is based in Springfield, Ill., and is a division of T.H.R. Associates (T.H.R. stands for Treasure Hunt Roadshow). The company holds antiquebuying events throughout the United States and Canada.
Matthew Enright, a spokesman for International Coin Collectors, said Roger Bernier's cheque was declined because the company's bank, PNC, abruptly closed their account.
"About two weeks ago, (PNC) called us to tell us they were electing to close our account," said Enright. "They didn't give us a reason why, and apparently legally they don't have to. But they closed our account right in the middle of a work week, which obviously put a huge strain on us."
In 2010, Enright gave a similar explanation to a newspaper in Mt. Vernon, Ill.
"The bounced cheques, that's old news," Enright told the Mt. Vernon Register-News in March 2010, referring to cheques that had bounced in 2008. "We work with JP Morgan and Chase Bank and write more cheques than Ford Motor Company. It was less than 200 cheques - less than 1 percent of what we write. It was an issue with the bank and we immediately got it taken care of."
Mark Fernandes, a spokesman with the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C., said the bureau had issued a bulletin warning consumers about travelling roadshows that promise to appraise or buy antiques. The Jan. 18 release states: ". . . BBB has received complaints from consumers who received cheques from travelling roadshows that bounced, and other complaints that the collectibles they sold were bought well below market value."
The antique-buying companies, which are not affiliated with the Antiques Roadshow or other similar television programs, turn up in communities and heavily market their event in local newspapers and radio, said Fernandes. That's what happened when International Coin Collectors came to North Vancouver.
"We saw the ad in the (North Shore News), and we thought oh, it's got to be legitimate, it's in the local paper," said Veronica Bernier.
The Berniers have made a police complaint, but RCMP spokesman Cpl. Richard De Jong said it was unlikely the Berniers would ever get the money back. At this point they are only victims of a bounced cheque, not fraud.
To prove it was fraud, said De Jong, "you have to prove from bank records that (the business) knowingly did not have funds in the account at the time they issued the cheque."
Fernandes' advice to people looking to sell their valuables is to do some homework first. "If you're planning to go to one of these roadshows, check them out online. See if anyone's ever complained about any issues with cheques being issued, or whether people got fair valuations."
Enright said the Berniers can telephone International Coin Collectors and ask for a new cheque to be cut.
But Veronica Bernier isn't holding her breath. "Obviously I've got some things to learn about not being too trusting."