Back on Thursday, October 27, the US Mint opened its product doors for the 25th anniversary five-coin set of the American Eagle silver coins.
After much marketing hoopla to generate customer interest, the product became available via the US Mint’s web site and their telephone ordering system at noon on October 27.
Unfortunately, many customers experienced blank browser screens when they tried to order the limited five-coin sets. (Each customer could order no more than five of the five-coin anniversary sets.)
As noted in our earlier post, Does the US Mint play favorites with coin dealers?, numismatists, investors and coin dealers experienced problems accessing the US Mint’s ordering system that day.
From the US Mint’s sales perspective, they were successful. They had a limited number of sets to sell and closed the ordering system by early evening Eastern time. (Their published maximum was 100,000 anniversary sets.)
After the ordering system closed, the next few days saw much frustration vented via the internet about the problems with the US Mint’s ordering system.
The good news is the US Mint is listening to the people’s frustration and working toward a solution.
The following email was sent to US Mint customers with an apology and their identification of next steps:
Dear United States Mint Customer:
We are fully aware of the difficulties many customers encountered last week with the release of the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Set. We would like you to know that we have undertaken an aggressive review of how we brought the product to market so we can better serve all of our customers in the future. Dick Peterson, the Deputy Director of the United States Mint, has also directed that the bureau review all future product offerings to ensure that we apply to them the lessons we learned from the marketing of the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Set.
One of the principal sources of frustration was our web and phone order-taking system. As many of you know, we are in the process of updating our order management system. Our current system is very outdated and we recognize that it does not serve our customers well. Accordingly, we recently selected a contractor that will develop and implement our new system—one that will be modern and comparable to other top-rated retail Web sites. Unfortunately, this transition will take some time; we are anticipating that the new system will be in place by fall 2012.
Our aim is to work earnestly to ensure that the inconvenience and frustration that our regular customers may have encountered last week is mitigated in 2012 as we re-examine our product launch strategies and systems. We value our relationship with you and are committed to serving you professionally and responsively. You deserve no less!
The United States Mint
With day-to-day orders, the US Mint’s antiquated system probably would continue to function adequately. But, when the US Mint generates demand for a limited edition set, the system fails miserably.
Will the US Mint release another in-demand product before they fix their system? If they do, it will be interesting to see how they address the problems encountered during the release of the 25th Anniversary American Eagle Silver Coins Set.