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Mint needs better coin production plan

Like many of the other subscribers to Numismatic News, I enjoy reading the sections on Viewpoint and letters to the editor. The topic that seems to be getting more attention is the problems and criticism of the U. S. Mint’s customer service and performance.

Not only has the customer service deteriorated and become unacceptable, but the quality of the product has dropped. The number of errors and quality issues are continually being reported on by customers in the letters published in NN.

The letters in the recent past included more and more complaints and dissatisfaction with their dealing with the U. S. Mint. It appears that the Mint treats customers like secondhand buyers because it knows it has a monopoly. To be constantly out of stock or missing scheduled shipping dates on items is a clear indication that their production planning and control systems are poor and it might even be a reflection on the management and the people doing the work.

Your recent article in the May 12 edition of NN mentioned that the total 2009 production by the Mint is only going to be three billion coins. This information should have been known and available to the public long before now. Knowing the legal requirements for the various dollar coins, the territorial quarter production, it would be interesting to know what is driving this low demand.

Is the Mint or Federal Reserve creating a factious shortage to drive up the prices and to put that money in the pocket of a select group of dealers? As was noted in your article, this represents only 30 percent of the 2008 total production. So what is the Mint going to do with all of that unused capacity?

Even with the reduced production schedule the Mint doesn’t meet its promised shipping dates. But why should we all be so surprised? Do you know of anything the government does that is efficient and cost effective? Efficiency is not their objective and is just another example why the government is not fit to manage anything, and they want to get into the automobile and health care industries.

 The mint’s total product line is around 200 individual items, which is a drop in the bucket compared to most other companies. Even with such few items, its on-time shipping performance is poor. You would think it was relatively new at this business rather than having been at it for over 200 years.

And then to top it off it will sell to master dealers/distributors who then sell and distribute to dealers around the country who then sell to collectors. Why stretch out the distribution chain? A good example of this is the current silver Eagle uncirculated coin. One of the dealers I frequent has had the uncirculated coins for a number of weeks, but we can’t get any from the Mint. When will they be available? Why is this so?

Based upon the information that is available from the Mint it appears that it only prepared an annual plan. Is it surprised that it has to produce the coins each year? If the Mint were to maintain a rolling two- to three-year production plan it could do a better job of predicting material requirements and working with vendors to ensure raw materials are available to meet the production plan rather than always running out of materials that results in rescheduled shipping dates.

The Mint could also predict and plan its production resources and manpower requirements. It all falls under the umbrella of being a world class manufacturer. Topnotch companies around the world are doing it and with a high quality product and providing high levels of customer services.

When the Mint releases the items for sale, it ramps up production to meet the demand. By then it is too late as there maybe production resource or material limitations. In today’s age of competitiveness you have to be better than yesterday.

It also appears the Federal Reserve, which may be in cohoots with the Mint, has decided not to distribute the new coins to the banks because it determined they are not needed. I have been told by two major banks that I do business at that they will not be getting any new coins. Then why were they ordered and produced in the first place?

This forces collectors and dealers to have to buy the pennies directly from the Mint at grossly inflated prices with a markup of almost 900 per cent. As a monopoly, the courts and the Treasury should view them as a restriction of trade and take the necessary actions to set the record straight.

I believe the Mint should be providing the country and collectors with its coin requirements more efficiently and cost effectively and provide better customer service to all users of the coins. This would greatly reduce the customer complaints and make for an efficient distribution of our monetary requirements. And above all be a boost to the coin collecting hobby.


Joe Cozzolino of Washington Crossing, Pa., has been an avid collector for 50 years. He is a retired partner from a major worldwide consulting firm and his area of expertise is in the manufacturing and distribution industries.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News.
To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send e-mail to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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