Every reader of Numismatic News, take a bow. You often are my eyes and ears. This was very true with the American Eagle 20th Anniversary Gold and Silver Set.
The Mint has now issued what amounts to an apology to its customers for creating a situation where many of them felt misled.
?While the United States Mint is pleased to offer both the special Anniversary Sets and the first new Uncirculated American Eagles to our customers in the year celebrating the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle program, we do acknowledge that our communication regarding the intent, timing, and pricing of these two programs could have been clearer. We regret any confusion that occurred, and have offered a full refund to any customer who is not satisfied and wishes to return their sets.?
Notice, I write ?what amounts to an apology.? In his interview with me, Edmund C. Moy, the new Mint director, unambiguously apologized to Mint customers. I commend him for doing so. I commend the Mint for issuing the statement. Even better is the Mint?s offering a full refund to anybody who bought the $850 set who wants one. That is the main thing. Readers who felt misled get their own ?Easy? button escape mechanism to undo what they consider a bad transaction.
This will certainly be of use to a reader who telephoned to tell me he had purchased 10 sets. He did not say whether he had planned to sell them on eBay, but he was acutely conscious of the $1,100.50 cost differential.
I am sure that for every reader who telephoned me, e-mailed me or wrote me a letter, there are dozens of others who feel the same way.
I would like to see the Mint take the amends process a bit further. This has nothing to do with apologies or contrition or anything like that. I think it is just common sense. It would help collector relations. It would also help their internal process.
Right now, the Mint is pushing the envelope as far as issuing details for its various collector offerings. They have fallen into the Internet Age?s ?We?ll put that online tomorrow syndrome,? and in consequence, fail to make important decisions in a manner that might catch these little mistakes.
Right now the Mint feels pressure not to set prices of bullion related-items too soon, because of the huge market fluctuations. That?s fair enough. However, they also delay making the decision relating to final issue dates and blame fluctuating bullion prices. That is not a reasonable conclusion.
The Mint should be able to lay out at the beginning of the year the release date for virtually all of its products. They can tell us in advance what will be in them. Had the Mint done this with the anniversary sets, hundreds of my readers would have spotted the problem with the anniversary set and the uncirculated Eagle offer Sept. 28. But because we were unaware of the follow-up offer, many hobbyists just jumped to a conclusion that wasn?t warranted.
Don?t tell us the prices until a few days before, no problem. We all understand market fluctuations. We can even understand an occasional postponement.
But collectors will not understand or forgive an appearance of being misled. We have been fed a steady diet of cleverly worded sales offers by private firms that hope to be confused with the U.S. Mint. The Mint has even issued a few consumer alerts about this, as well it should.
However, for the U.S. Mint to appear to be employing similar clever language is not good for its long-term reputation.
I think the Mint statement in this particular instance was a good thing. I am sure this situation has caused many red faces internally. I am not interested in who they belonged to.
The bottom line is that the Mint will sell hugely profitable coins and coin sets to eager customers if these customers are treated like they are part of the process.
Collectors are predisposed to respect and admire the Mint. Let?s work that.