A longtime dealer and supporter of U.S. Mint products is seeking a face-to-face meeting with other leading dealers and U.S. Mint officials about the sale and marketing of the America the Beautiful bullion 5-ounce silver coins.
Mike Fuljenz, president and owner of Universal Coin and Bullion in Beaumont, Texas, said he sent a letter Dec. 22 to U.S. Mint officials addressing his concerns and recommendations for the program, since restrictions placed on authorized purchasers for the sale of the coins into the secondary market effectively eliminated retailers from first-tier sales.
“Dealers who advertise U.S. Mint products should have been better and sooner informed about production and delivery issues,” Fuljenz wrote in his letter to Mint officials. “... The U.S. Mint needs to let dealers and the public know in a timely manner what to expect about these and all Mint products in 2011, given these recent events.”
Among other concerns and recommendations Fuljenz directed to Mint officials in his letter:
➤ The U.S. Mint needs to issue a press release to the public explaining its “last minute distribution changes.” Many retailers had coin commitments from authorized purchasers — “as done for over a decade” — canceled. “These dealers had placed hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads and are getting thousands of calls for products their AP’s are not allowed by the Mint to deliver to them. These retailers were made to look unethical to some of those who responded and to take tremendous advertising expense losses.”
➤ “The U.S. Mint has made more AP’s who participate into retailers. The U.S. Mint may be directing customers to AP’s who may not have time to set up policies, disclosures, return procedures and licenses that comply with various state and federal laws. AP’s may have to charge a lot more than retailers for shipping and handling due to this unexpected labor intensive process and new insurance costs.”
➤ Authorized purchasers “who acted badly according to the Mint ended up benefiting by the Mint’s unprecedented edicts which were to the detriment of retail competitors who didn’t gouge. The Mint needs to work with those who advertise their products, not just the” authorized purchasers.
➤ Authorized purchasers “are not set up to handle the customer inquiries the way retailers are. Customers are complaining to the retailers about this.”
Fuljenz said the Mint’s program restrictions have cost him thousands of dollars in advertising placed in advance based on the Mint’s original sales plan announced Dec. 1, for sales beginning Dec. 6. Sales were suspended Dec. 6 and restrictions imposed three days later amid public complaints that some authorized purchasers were preselling the coins at double or more each coin’s melt value.
Fuljenz said he has fielded thousands of phone calls from individuals responding to his original ads, and had to redirect those callers elsewhere. Fuljenz said he has also had to modify subsequent advertising because of the Mint’s changes in the handling of sales of the America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coins. ■