The US Mint’s 20th Anniversary Silver Eagle Sets are now officially sold out.
The sets went on sale yesterday October 27, 2011 at 12:00 Noon ET. As expected, it was extremely difficult for customers to place orders by website or phone. The US Mint indicated that they received orders for approximately 25,000 sets within the first hour.
Around 4:30 PM ET, the US Mint posted the “waiting list notice” on the online product page, indicating that orders had been received for the entire 100,000 production limit.
Based on comments in the previous post, it seems that the extreme difficulty in placing orders continued for the entire duration of the offering. The problems even continued for several hours after the waiting list notice was posted.
Order numbers from the comments in the previous post range from 38324xxx placed at 12:04 PM to 38370xxx placed at 4:17 PM. This represents a difference of about 46,000.
An order placed at 5:24 PM after the waiting list had been imposed had a number of 38381xxx, which represents a difference of 57,000.
This morning around 10:15 AM ET, the US Mint stopped accepting orders for the waiting list and officially marked the online page as “sold out.”
Ordering problems are unfortunately nothing new for highly desirable, low production US Mint products. As in the past, they admit that they are aware of the problem and offer solutions at a future point in time. The following message was posted on their Facebook page:
We are committed to improving your online ordering experience and have recently awarded a contract that will result in a new, state of art order management system. We appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we work toward implementing this new system in 2012.
There have been indications that a majority of customers placed orders for the household limit of five sets. In retrospect, it seems that the US Mint should have considered a lower limit if they wanted the widest possible distribution. At times in the past, they have indicated that they establish limits with this goal in mind.
The former US Mint Director Edmund Moy even went so far as to completely cancel the 2009 Proof Silver Eagles because it was apparent that some collectors who would want them would not be able to obtain them due to the limited number the Mint would be able to produce. Under his watch, it was apparently preferable to have everyone end up with nothing, rather than disappoint some.
Many readers have been posting questions about what various statuses represent for their orders. I have not personally studied their various statuses in any detail. I will re-post a comment from “Two Cents” with some explanations:
The Mint uses the word “backorder” in a different way that most people are familiar with.
Most companies are sellers, not manufacturers, so when an item is on “backorder,” that means that they have run out of that item, and need to order more from the manufacturer. That may take days or weeks or even months, so the company is telling the customer that he has to wait until the product comes in.
The Mint is both manufacturer and seller, so when they say “backorder,” they mean that the order is backed up until the coins are minted, assembled, and then shipped to the fulfillment center for mailing.
The Mint uses “hold” to mean that they need time to verify that the order is legitimate (in this case, not more than 5 sets per household) and that the customer’s credit card has sufficient funds. “In process” means that verification has been done, and now all it takes is for the Mint to see if there are enough sets ready for mailing.
“In stock and reserved” means that the coins have been assembled into sets and ready to be shipped to the fulfillment center, and that all verifications have been made. At this point, the Mint has ACCEPTED the order — prior to this, the Mint has only RECEIVED the order. Once the set is labeled for mailing, then you will receive a “Shipped” notice and tracking number (though the actual mailing date may be the next day).
“Suspended” is something new to me. I suppose that is used when a later order is made after the household limit has been reached. I have never seen a “Waiting List” message on the online order receipt or email confirmation, but then, I have never been put on a waiting list.
To sum up, once you see “In process” and/or “In stock and reserved,” you can safely assume that you will get your coins. “Hold” and “Backorder” are used routinely and does not mean that you will not get your coins.
Other readers have had questions about the waiting list.
I am not sure about the prospects of any particular waiting list orders being fulfilled. The US Mint fulfills these orders on a first-in, first-served basis in the event that coins become available due to order cancellations. There are likely tens of thousands of orders on the waiting list based on the order numbers indicated in comments. It seems that at least some of the earlier ones will be fulfilled as the US Mint cancels duplicate orders placed either inadvertently or intentionally.
I don’t believe there is any way to determine if your order was placed after the waiting list was imposed based on the order receipt. My own order was placed at 5:39 PM after the US Mint implemented the waiting list. The receipt does not make any indication that the order is for the waiting list and shows the status as backordered. Generally, any orders placed after 4:30 PM (or so) are most likely for the waiting list.