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Buyer Beware: Deceptive Silver Coin Auctions on Ebay
Recently with the fast rise in silver prices over the last year, there have been many Ebay silver coin auctions added and some of them are just outright misleading, or sometimes worse. Silver prices are quoted in TROY ounces, not Avoirdupois Ounces, which weigh less than a Troy Ounce. Yet I see many auctions of silver coins quoting the weight of the coins in standard (AV.) ounces, giving the impression you are getting more silver than you actually are.
An ordinary "Avoirdupois" Ounce is exactly:
A Troy Ounce is exactly: 31.1034768 grams or 1.097142857142857 Avoirdupois ounces
For example, I just saw an auction which caused me to write this article. The seller had listed a combination of 90% silver dimes and quarters and stated they weighed a combined 2 Ounces. Later in the copy, it states these are Standard Ounces. It never mentions Troy Ounces. And they did weigh about two AV. (STD) ounces, based on published total coin weight.
So whats wrong with this?
One, it gives the impression you are getting Two Ounces of Silver, and since silver is priced by the ounce, the buyer may think he is getting two Troy Ounces. He is not! So this potential buyer may be misled by the confusion over the measuring differences between AV and Troy ounces. With many new buyers coming to Ebay as silver prices rise, these buyes may be deceived and taken advantage of.
And even worse!
Two, the weight of these coins was in fact Two STD Ounces, even though it was AV, not Troy. But the coins are 90% silver, not pure 100% silver. So Two Standard Ounces of silver, do not deliver 2 STD. ounces of silver, but 1.8 STD. ounces net of actual silver.
So what would a buyer end up with if they bought these coins thinking the price would be at spot, and let's use $40/oz Troy to make it easy. The buyer thinks the coins are worth $80. First we determine the amount of silver. 2 STD ounces times 90% equals 1.8 STD ounces. The we multiply this to get the Troy ounces. 1.8 times .91146 (close enough) which equals 1.6406 Troy Ounces. 1.6406 times $40 equals $65.63.
So in the case of this auction, a buyer may think they are paying for $80 worth of silver, but in fact are only receiving a net $65.63 of silver.
In my book this is a deceptive auction description at its worst.