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Mint ships early

Shipments to buyers of the Mint’s 25th anniversary silver American Eagle sets began Nov. 8, about three weeks earlier than expected.

Frustrated collectors who were unsuccessful in obtaining one of the 100,000 sets priced at $299.95 each on Oct. 27 faced the prospects of paying higher prices on the secondary market.

“All they have done is create a situation where they are all instantly worth a small fortune,” said Jim Natzke of Rochester Hills, Mich. “Prices on eBay range from $480 to $3,995. This is unpardonable.”

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eBay has required people who were auctioning the sets online to posses them. It is illegal to sell futures contracts on eBay, which is essentially selling something for future delivery.

R.W. Barker of Midland, Mich., said the Mint ordering system just couldn’t handle the volume.

“The complaint really is that the Mint does not have system capacity to handle so many orders in a limited period, but it would not make business sense for it to have a system to handle such a tsunami of orders at one time in place every day of the year when these order rushes happen how often, one or two business days in the year at the most?,” Barker asked. “That would not be economical. The U.S. Mint is not Amazon.com, selling thousands of products 24 hours of every day in the year.”

The Mint is in the process of upgrading its website, but this will not be finished until nearly a year from now.

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Stan Owens of Sandy, Utah, suggested an alternative sales method for future programs.

“On this type of sale,” he wrote, “they should let everyone who wants to buy have a few days to sign up for ordering, then have a random selection for which orders are selected first until either the inventory runs out, or (they) sell the remaining inventory on a specified date.”

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