Collector ire raised over Ike set sales
Coin World received multiple complaints from collectors peeved they were unable to order the 2015 Dwight D. Eisenhower Coin & Chronicles set Aug. 11, which sold out of its 17,000-edition limit in 15 minutes. The primary problem was a computer software misfire blocking access to the U.S. Mint’s website.
Not until I interviewed Rhett Jeppson, the Mint’s principal deputy director and President Obama’s nominee for Mint director, two hours after the Ike set went on sale, did I learn that the Mint has two portal components on its website (See the story I wrote, in this week’s Aug. 31 print issue and online at http://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2015/08/eisenhower-set-sells-out-in-15-minutes.all.html).
Seems that www.usmint.gov has the news link to the catalog options. The usmint.gov site is operated by the Mint. The glitch was a software problem at the site, totally unrelated to the Ike set sales launch.
Catalog.usmint.gov, however, did function without problems and is where most of the orders were successfully placed. Catalog.usmint.gov is maintained by PSFWeb, under a multimillion-dollar contract. PFSWeb is a Mint contractor located in Texas. PSFWeb also operates the toll-free 800 ordering and customer service telephone line, and the order fulfillment center in Memphis, Tenn., from where the Mint’s packaged numismatic products are shipped.
Orders taken via the 800 line are input online by PSFWeb to maintain inventory control. Order processors at PSFWeb may or may not have accurate answers for the questions customers ask who use the ordering-by-telephone option or simply customers calling to ask a general Mint-related question. However, answers to many of the general questions posed to the Mint can be found under FAQs on the www.usmint.gov site.
Another beef we heard a lot of from collectors was a belief, based on misinterpreting advertising claims, that dealers or others with deep pockets had been able to order thousands of sets despite the two-set-per-household ordering limit imposed by the Mint. Not so.
Nothing prevents orders being placed through multiple accounts as long as each account has a different delivery/mailing address and credit card for payment. Multiple orders for a single address or credit card will be flagged.
A number of high profile dealers did send requests to their customers to order the two-set limit. When those customers passed the sets on to the dealer, they would receive a premium several times the $57.95 purchase price from the Mint.
Those dealers did end up with large numbers of the sets that they re-marketed themselves, some after having the Reverse Proof 2015-P Eisenhower Presidential dollar and the silver presidential medal certified by a third-party grading service, or they peddled the sets directly to shopping channels like Home Shopping Network. The sets are now generating secondary market retail prices in the hundreds of dollars per set.
The sets are in demand for the Reverse Proof Presidential dollar and silver medal which are available only in each featured president’s respective set.
Mint officials have not announced whether they will further limit household orders, to one per household, to spread out the set distribution, when the John F. Kennedy Coin and Chronicles set goes on sale Sept. 16 or for the Lyndon B. Johnson set release sometime in October.
Decreasing the household ordering limit to one might make customers who obtain a lone set less inclined to sell it to a dealer, even for a premium. Secondary market prices may rise further, though, as dealers work harder and offer more incentives to pry sets loose for resale to collectors still seeking the relatively low mintage items.
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