This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Why does any business, and let’s not forget that the Mint is a for-profit business, lose customers?
Well, inferior products, lousy sales policies, nickel and diming (no pun intended) your customers to death to boost profits, too many gimmicks and incredibly inept customer service are all reasons why I think the Mint has lost customers.
• Inferior Products. Proof sets, especially the state quarter program versions, were just plain bad coins. Lack of imagination and poor production results left a bad taste in many collectors’ mouths.
• Lousy Sales Policies. What moron decided to take one of the Mint’s best selling items (the proof silver Eagle) and not produce it for a year! That’s like the NFL cancelling the Super Bowl despite its obvious fan appeal and profitability.
• Nickel and Diming. Remember when you didn’t get charged $4.95 per shipment? Remember when you could group all your items into one order to somewhat allieviate this shipping charge and have a reasonable assurance that everything would still be available if you waited to accomplish this grouping? Try doing that now and you’ll miss some of your items due to sell-outs.
• Too Many Gimmicks. Can’t make 2010 silver proof Eagles but you can make 5-ounce “bullion” coins less than a year later, sell them through a “select” dealer network (nine of them) at a “set” profit margin with only a one per customer limit and then, less than 10 days later have no valid explaination for why they sell on a TV shopping network for an outrageous mark-up because they only have 211 sets left! As for other gimmicks, I give you the statehood quater program (don’t forget the six “territories” the Mint elevated to state status just to grab an extra year) and now we give you the national parks program.
• Inept Customer Service. Take the first four points and tell me what other company would even think about doing this garbage to its customers and all with a straight face. Think IBM, GE, Apple, Kroger or any of a thousand other “real world” corporations would ever act like this?
Now toss in poor designs (when was the last U.S. issued coin a winner in any COTY contest) and so many production flaws that error collecting has become a full-time job and I suggest the Mint look into the mirror before it overpays some consultant to figure out what the problems are.
Look, I’m not a huge collector, probably typical of many small, private hobbyists in the country, but the U.S. Mint couldn’t care less about me or any of the other little guys who enjoy this hobby. It is living proof of why the phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” should send any rational person running from immediate area.
The Mint has (or had) a captive market and still is well on its way to making itself obsolete, at least from the serious collector point of view. It was born on third base and believed it had hit a triple, only to be picked off by its own hubris and ineptness.
Joseph Ricci is a hobbyist from Surprise Ariz.