Top 10 Things Your Scrap Metal Dealer Doesn’t Want You To Know

There is a lot of money in the scrap metal recycling industry.  There is also a lot of crime, theft and dishonesty.  Southern Resources in Charlotte, NC is a different type of scrap metal recycler that believes it is important to have transparency when it comes to their processes and prices.  They are the type of scrap metal recycler that actually builds relationships with their industrial clients.  They pay top prices, weigh honestly and truly value loyalty. Mark Clackum, the CEO and President of Southern Resources feels so passionately about the subject of honesty in the scrap metal world that he created a list of what he feels are the top 10 things that your scrap metal dealer doesn’t want you to know.  
  1. Know Which Alloy Your Scrap Metal Actually Is. Did you know that there are a dozen common alloys of aluminum & hundreds of different types of brass? Scrap dealers just buy brass as “brass”, but many of the common types of brass are worth much more. Find out the alloy designation number of your metal to ensure you get the best price. Refer to our Recyclopedia to learn more.
  2. Know the Actual Market Price. Scrap metal is traded on formulas based on published commodities markets. Copper, Gold, & Silver are based on the COMEX. All other common base metals are traded on the LME (London Metals Exchange).  Scrap dealers just want you to take their word for it, but you can use the internet to check today’s markets or better yet just visit our Southern Resources Pricing Page where we publish both the National Average Prices & Local Average Prices for about 50 of the most common scrap items.
  3. Lock in a formula based on a published market. You should sell on a formula based on a published market such as AMM (American Metal Market) or the LME or the COMEX. Scrap dealers often quote a big, sometimes even losing, price to get your business, then they lower the price after you get comfortable and stop paying attention. Protect yourself by contracting a formula with your chosen scrap metal recycler, so that your price automatically raises when the market does. To get a suggested formula just fill out our What’s My Scrap Metal Worth? form & ask for a suggested formula.
  4. Know whether or not your scrap dealer has certified scales. Scales are computers which can be programmed to read whatever an unscrupulous scrap dealer wants them to read. In the case of a floor scale usually with a 3′ or 4′ weigh plate designed for weighing parcels less than 5,000lbs, a quick check is to stand on it. Does the read-out display your weight +/- 2lbs? In the case of a truck-scale, (literally 50′ long & designed to weigh a tractor trailer weighing as much as 100,000lbs accurately), ask to see the inspection sticker from the Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services. You can use the same self-weigh test here, too. Does the truck scale display your weight within 20lbs? Never use a scrap dealer who doesn’t allow you to see the scale read-out.
  5. Know Your Weight in Pounds. Scrap dealers like to deal in what is refferred to as a “Gross Ton” (which is 2,240 pounds), because they will round down to the nearest ton. For example, if you have 6,695 pounds of steel, many scrap dealers divide 6,675lbs by 2,240 to get 2.98 gross tons & will round down to 2GT (two gross tons). This shaves off a full third of your weight & therefore a full 33% of your money!
  6. Again, keep it simple, deal in pounds. A common scrap dealer scam is to convert pricing to some other term such as “eaches”, “penny-weights”, “price per piece”, etc. This is a bright red warning flag that your scrap dealer is trying to deceive you. Pounds are straight forward. Make sure your material is weighed accurately & get paid your price per pound for every pound you have.
  7. Know all associated fees. Beware of hidden fees. Barring exceptional labor or recovery situations, your price quote should be a flat rate “as is, where is”& already include container rental, transportation, fuel surcharges, standard handling, administrate tasks, etc.
  8. Know what is being deducted. Be aware of all deductions, so you can review what is reasonable. where possible, insist on exact verification. For example, if your scrap metal is in a barrel, know the exact weight of the empty barrel before loading or have the scrap dealer transfer its contents & weigh your barrel back. In the cases where estimation is unavoidable (percentage recovery, projected labor, moisture deductions, etc.), it is acceptable that the scrap dealer keeps a little cushion or errs on the side of caution, but insist on an accounting to make sure it seems reasonable to you.
  9. Insist on a Settlement Report. If your scrap dealer has nothing to hide, then they shouldn’t mind giving you an itemized receipt for every transaction.
  10. Know the company. Who does the company say they are? How would you describe their company personality? One of the best ways to judge a company’s character is to know the owner. This is doesn’t apply to publicly held companies, but publicly held companies tend to be very bureaucratic & treat you as just another customer number. Most scrap yards are small to mid-size businesses, & these size companies have a tendency to embody the personalities of their owners or Presidents. What sort of person is the owner? Do they have a criminal record? Do they have good credit? Are they active in the community? Choose your scrap yard they same way you would choose a partner, because that is the way a good scrap yard conducts itself.
I hope you find this list helpful and these tips help you to find a responsible scrap metal recycler.     Related articles
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