Guide to choosing the right pawnbrokers
Whether you've decided to pawn a valuable possession to raise some cash, or whether you're looking to purchase a particular pawned item, choosing the right pawnbrokers is important whatever your intentions.
Choosing the right pawnbrokers not only ensures you get a fair and honest deal, but it can also enhance the customer experience. In particular, picking a reputable pawnbrokers can help to dispel many of the negative pawnbroking myths doing the rounds, and can leave you feeling pleasantly surprised and satisfied with your encounter. But, how do you know if you've chosen well? The following tips should set you on the right path.
95% of people who have used a pawnbroker have felt satisfied with their experience, so to make sure you fall within this group, do some research before visiting a pawnshop. Have a look to see what people are saying online about a particular store, and ask friends or family if they have any wisdom they can impart. Around 2.5 million people in the UK have used a pawnshop before, so obtaining feedback from fellow users shouldn't be too difficult to come by. In particular, find out what experiences others have had of a store, what the customer service was like, and whether they got a good deal.
As part of your research, choose a pawnshop that has the necessary license and credentials to operate. Pawnbrokers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, but it's also worth choosing one that is a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association, such as Albone.
Visit a store
One of the best ways to form an impression about a pawnshop is to visit it in person. Before you even enter the store, it should appear inviting from the outside. If you feel uneasy about stepping inside, either because it looks sleazy or is dimly lit, walk away and find another. When making a judgment about a store, trust your instincts. Your nearest pawnshop may not necessarily be the most suitable, but there's bound to be another one nearby.
A good pawnbroker will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have, so don't be afraid to come armed with queries. Not everyone understands how pawnbroking works, and a decent pawnshop will appreciate this, and will explain in detail how the process works. You'll usually be able to assess the level of customer service fairly quickly, which is a good indication for deciding whether to use a particular pawnshop or not. If you feel rushed, your questions aren't fully answered or the staff are rude and impolite, this isn't the shop for you.
If you're pawning an item for cash, ask about the different payment options available. A reputable pawnshop will try to be as accommodating as possible to suit your circumstances, so that you're in a strong position to be able to repay the loan and redeem your item. As well as finding out the specific terms and conditions of the loan, enquire if there are any extensions available, if needed, and whether you'll receive reminders regarding repayments.
Naturally, if you're pawning an item for a cash loan, how much interest you pay will be a top priority. But, as well as finding out about interest charges, remember to ask if there are any other hidden fees involved. A worthy pawnshop will be transparent with its charges, so that you don't get any nasty or unexpected expenses at the end. Find out if there are any discounts available for repaying the loan early.
If you're swayed by a pawnshop that offers a great introductory rate, be certain that you know how long this offer lasts for, and if, or when, rates might increase. In some cases, it might not always work out the cheapest option.
On the other end of the scale, if you're buying from a pawnshop, get an idea of what sort of prices you can expect to pay for a specific item you have in mind, and choose those shops that offer a fair deal. Often, you may even be able to negotiate on price.
A reputable pawnbroker will explain how they appraise an item, so that you're given an understanding of how the process works.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a pawnbroker if you're pawning an item is that your treasured possession is kept as safe and secure as possible during the loan period. The item you're pawning is still officially yours during this time, so, naturally, you'll want to feel reassured that it's not likely to get stolen, damaged or lost during this period. Find out what will happen to your pawned item. It may be kept in a glass case, a safe or a vault, for example. In most instances, a secure vault is the best option. It's in a pawnbroker's interest to keep valuables secure at all times, so only do business with those pawnbrokers you feel 100% confident about.
If you're pawning or buying a particular item, such as a high-end watch or diamond jewellery, it's often a good idea to choose a pawnshop that specialises in this area, rather than a more general one. The owners are more likely to have specialist knowledge in this field, so you can make use of their expertise with regards to securing the best price, and if you have any specific questions you want answering. Choose a store that has a mix of good quality merchandise at the right prices.
If you decide to use an online pawnbroker, it's especially important to ask the right questions, understand the terms and conditions that apply and have complete confidence in who you're dealing with. If they don't have a physical store, it's harder to suss out their business, so be wary if you do go down this route. If you're pawning an item, make sure the package is insured and take photos of the item before sending it off.