Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 22, 2021: Did Mint meet promises?

November 23, 2021 3 min read

Monday Morning Brief for Nov. 22, 2021: Did Mint meet promises?

By William T. Gibbs , Coin World, Published: Nov 22, 2021, 7 AM

A  year ago in this column, published in the December 2020 monthly issue of Coin World, I commented on a few segments of a larger public statement made on Nov. 18, 2020, by Mint Director David J. Ryder, regarding then-recent mistakes the Mint had made in offering several numismatic products that year. Underlying the statement was the Mint’s hope to do better in the future.

In referencing the Mint’s projection for demand for one of that year’s products, Ryder said this: “Most of the time I think we’re successful, but in the case of the World War II 75th Anniversary products we clearly underestimated demand.” Again, the overall statement promised an effort by the Mint to do better.

Many Mint customers in 2021 would dispute that things were better this year. Demand exceeded supply for all of the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars, and for many of the American Eagle numismatic products issued to mark the transition to new designs. Too many collectors went away unhappy as they were unsuccessful in purchasing their desired coins.

Ryder also promised to improve customers’ experiences with the Mint website. He said a year ago: “As many of you are aware, a slowdown of the Mint’s online sales website caused frustration for many of our loyal customers, who were unable to purchase their desired product. ... I have asked my team to do a thorough analysis of what went wrong, and, by balancing capacity versus cost, come up with long-term, lasting solutions that will provide our customers with a vastly improved buying experience.”

Mint customers experienced similar problems at the Mint website earlier this year, and found themselves fighting bots in their efforts at buying hot new products. Later in 2021, the Mint made some progress in combatting the use of bots and in improving customer satisfaction with its 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 provide preferential treatment to any of our customers, be they individual collectors or professional coin dealers, and we have measures in place, both automated and manual, to ensure that household order limits are adhered to. We have seen an increase of activity by another sector of customers — buying groups who offer to pay a premium to individuals who purchase our high-demand products.”

While the Mint has made progress in keeping bots from flooding the website during sales, a decision implemented in early 2021 only reinforced the belief of many collectors that dealers get preferential treatment over collectors. I am referring to the Authorized Bulk Purchase Program, which enables dealer participants to purchase up to 10% of certain Mint products before they go on sale to the public and lets dealers pick up their coins often before the public gets a chance to try to buy them. This program is hugely unpopular with the Mint’s customer base, who view it as proving the Mint favors dealers with deep pockets. Moreover, the Mint refuses to identify 17 of the 18 ABPP participants, a decision critics see as hiding the identities of those who can buy coins and sets before collectors can.

I concluded last year’s December Editorial by writing, “Let us hope that Ryder and his team can implement changes that will make problematic releases like the two World War II programs in November impossible in 2021.” I wish I could say that the Mint was completely successful, but readers would call me a liar.

Let us hope that the Mint will continue to work at serving collectors. They still have a lot to do.

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