Monday Morning Letter for November 22, 2021: Did Mint Keep Its Promises?
A year ago in this column, published in the December 2020 monthly issue of World of coins, I commented on some sections of a larger public statement made by Mint Director David J. Ryder on Nov. 18, 2020 about the mint’s most recent mistakes in offering multiple numismatic products this year. The statement was based on the mint’s hope to do better in the future.
Regarding the mint’s forecast of demand for one of this year’s products, Ryder said, “Most of the time I think we are doing well, but in the case of the 75th Anniversary World War II products, we clearly underestimated demand.” Again, the overall statement promised an effort by the mint to do better.
Many Mint customers in 2021 would deny that things went better this year. Demand exceeded supply for all Morgan and Peace dollars in 2021, as well as many of American Eagle’s numismatic products released to mark the transition to new designs. Too many collectors left unhappy because they couldn’t buy the coins they wanted.
Ryder also promised to improve customers’ experiences with the Mint website. He said a year ago, “As many of you know, a slowdown on Mint’s online sales website has frustrated many of our loyal customers who were unable to purchase the product they were looking for. … I asked my team to thoroughly analyze what went wrong and, by balancing capacity and costs, develop long-term, lasting solutions that offer our customers a vastly improved shopping experience. “
Mint customers experienced similar issues on the Mint website earlier this year and faced bots in their efforts to buy hot new products. Later in 2021, the Mint made some strides in combating the use of bots and improving customer satisfaction with their website operations, but I think customers would say additional improvements are needed.
Ryder also commented on another area that was the focus of many collector complaints in 2020: “We do not offer any preferential treatment to any of our customers, be they individual collectors or professional coin dealers, and we have taken both automated and manual measures to ensure that the order limits are met are adhered to in the household. We have seen an increase in activity in another customer sector – buying groups that offer a premium to individuals who buy our high-demand products. “
While the Mint has made strides to stop bots from flooding the site while it is on sale, a decision implemented in early 2021 has only strengthened the belief of many collectors that dealers are given preferential treatment over collectors. I’m referring to the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program, which allows merchant participants to purchase up to 10% of certain Mint products before they go public, and dealers often have their coins picked up before the public has a chance to get them Buy it. This program is extremely unpopular with the Mint’s customer base, who see it as evidence that the Mint prefers large-pocket retailers. In addition, the mint is refusing to identify 17 of the 18 ABPP participants, a decision critics see in hiding the identities of those who can buy coins and sets before collectors can.
I ended last year’s December editorial by saying, “Let’s hope Ryder and his team can make changes that make problematic releases like the two World War II programs in November 2021 impossible.” I wish I could say the mint was perfectly successful was, but readers would call me a liar.
Let’s hope the mint will continue to serve the collectors. You still have a lot to do.
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