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Viewpoint: Reader tells of order nightmare

By William H. Brownstein

If history is any example you would think that the Mint would have learned when it limited the mintage of the American Eagle 2011 25th anniversary set to 100,000 and it almost immediately sold out.

The Truman Coin and Chronicles set goes on sale June 30.

The Truman Coin and Chronicles set went on sale June 30 and was sold out in 15 minutes.

The Mint decided not to limit production or its 2012 Reverse Proof and S Proof American Eagle coins, but to make an unlimited quantity over a short period of time in order to make the set available to anyone who wanted to order it and by so doing to avoid future disappointment. However, as noted below, the Mint obviously has a short memory or it really doesn’t care about customer satisfaction.

Today at 9:03 a.m. P.T., after I was able to log onto the U.S. Mint’s website and I was optimistic that I would be one of the lucky people that would be able to purchase up to five of the 2015 Harry Truman Coin and Chronicles Set.

I has anxiously awaiting the purchase since I first read about it being released earlier this year, stayed up most of the night due to my excitement of being able to own this limited issue coin or because I did not want to risk missing the noon E.T. ordering start, and with an announced mintage of 17,000 reverse proof dollars this seemed to be a dream come true. Unfortunately, what started as a dream turned into a nightmare.

I placed the order at 9:03 a.m., gave my credit card information and received a printed message that there was a problem with my credit card number or the three-digit code on the reverse and to call an 800 number.

Not wanting to lose my place in line, I attempted to use a different credit card, with the same response and then another credit card, with the same response. I couldn’t imagine how three credit cards with ample credit to cover the purchase of five sets would be all have the same message, namely to call the 800 number.

I then called the 800 number, not once but 10 times. The first nine times I got a message and was told to press 1, some of the times telling me that I would be asked to participate in answering customer service questions. Each of those times I pressed 1, and then I got a busy signal.

The 10th time I called, now at 9:20 a.m., I clicked 1, and this time the phone rang and after waiting at 10 minutes, I was greeted by a customer service representative who identified herself as Linda. She was friendly, seemed sincere, was apologetic for the set having already sold out and when I asked about my credit cards she told me that it was probably due to a website error that my order, which appeared on their records at 9:03 a.m., was not be filled.

The famous five book Standard Catalog of World Coins collection is back!

The famous five book Standard Catalog of World Coins collection is back!

Her solution was that I can wait until August to order the Eisenhower Coin & Chronicles Set. If the Mint is as inept in August what makes her think that I would have any better luck than I had in June?

When I asked to speak to her supervisor my phone went dead. As Linda had my name, phone number and address and confirmed that the order was posted but because my card was not charged I can only attribute the hang up to her affirmative action. Whatever happened to customer service?

I then called back, this time it was at 9:30 a.m., and got a different person, Latasha. In my opinion she had no idea what she was doing and when I asked for a supervisor she pretended to not understand me and she stayed on the line making inane suggestions such as paying my credit card so I had credit, waiting for the Eisenhower set and that there was nothing that could be done.

Unlike Linda, she went through the third degree to get my name and phone number and address and then told me that the order was placed but it never went through. I finally gave up at 10 a.m. when I could not get to a supervisor. I would get a more meaningful response from my parakeet than from the U.S. Mint (and the parakeet isn’t all that smart!)
I am extremely disappointed with how the Mint handled the purchasing procedure and how it treated me as a local customer of many years.

I also don’t understand why the Mint, with its prior history with regard to the 2011 American Eagle Set, would issue a single coin with a mintage of 17,000 when there were huge problems with the 2011 set which had a mintage of 100,000 of each of five coins.
Based on my experience I can understand why people have lost confidence in the Government. If this is how they treat people who are willing to put their hard earned money into their products, I think they need to reconsider who makes the decisions about their coinage and coin programs.

This “Viewpoint” was written by William H. Brownstein, a southern California hobbyist.

To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwcommunity.com.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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3 Responses to Viewpoint: Reader tells of order nightmare

  1. ob_one1963 says:

    Another sorry tale of ineptness by a government agency. I went through the exact issue with the attempted purchase of the American Eagle 2011 25th anniversary set. I took it one step further. I wrote the director of the mint and both of my Senators. This also was a total, 100% joke. The reply I received from the director totally dodged the issue. Senator Franken D-MN, no response. Senator Klobuchar D-MN, replied with a form letter to fill out.
    What has to happen with this agency is what has to happen with countless other government agencies. Either abolish them or turn them over to the private sector.

  2. jayelder says:

    What a disappointment to these gentelmen. As a collector I only need one coin for my self. So I didnt order the maximum 5 coin sets as did Mr. Brownstein. I wonder if he is collecting five sets of the presidential series? In a related article elsewhere in this fine magizine a gentelmen wrote of a very good experince in ordering his five sets (is he too collecting five sets of the presidential series?). The fellow had doubled checked his credit cards and cleared the balance ahead of time. Now Im not to sharp on these kinda of things , but it seems that the credit card system is to blame not the US Mint. I was able to use my credit card and order two sets, at the last moment. I only have one collection of the presidential series, so I have one spare 2015 Harry Truman Coin and Chronicles Set. If Mr. Brwonstein really needs one of these for his presidential set collection, I will be happy to sell him one of mine, at costs plus shipping, pending his proof of a complete five set collection of the entire presindential series. Mr. Harper can put you in touch with me sir.
    Jay Elder
    Portland, OR.

  3. BillKirchmeyer says:

    I, too, was caught by surprise by the fast sell-out. I was at work and unable to logon to the US Mint web site until about 14 minutes after the start of sales had commenced only to find they had sold out already. Needing at least one set to keep my contiguous collection intact, I went to eBay and did a Buy-it-now for $125.00, plus shipping. Today, I got an e-mail from the seller (who incidentally had 4 other sets still for sale when I “bought” mine from him) and told me he had refunded the purchase price because two of the sets he had ordered were damaged and he didn’t want to hold my money while he awaited a resolution from the Mint. I highly doubt his story, as since I had purchased the first of his 5 sets and therefore should have had one of the supposedly 3 goods sets he had received. In fact I think he saw what other sets were listed for and decided the $125 he had originally asked was to little and decided it was better to cheat me out of a set I had purchased in good faith and resell it for a higher price. I, of course, have no way to prove this supposition and dealing with eBay on the matter would be tantamount to having a crown fitted at the dentist, so I just found another set for $135.00, including shipping, and it has already shipped. All this being said, I think the US Mint is really to blame and should have better sense when limiting something this unique – all they would need to do was look at the number of subscriptions they already have for products that have the Presidential Dollars to determine the number of true collectors that will need a one-of-a-kind reverse proof to keep their collections complete. Additionally, I hope the Mint places a 1 or 2 per household maximum on the remaining sets in this series to allow true collectors, instead of eBay speculators, the opportunity to keep their hobby intact.

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