It was not a good day for the United States Mint’s website team yesterday. Due to the highest traffic the site has ever seen, many users received loading errors and traffic throttling error notices as the End of World War II American Eagles went on sale. It was a painful experience for users and another in what has increasingly become a frustration for customers of the Mint.
The issues started as the gold and silver American Eagles went on sale at Noon Eastern yesterday. Within minutes, users began experiencing slow loading times and errors. At one point, the site was giving throttling errors from Cloudflare, the security company that the Mint leverages, and indicating that IP addresses and been banned. Essentially, Cloudflare though the Mint’s site was under a Denial of Service attack and reacted accordingly.
The errors and slow response of the site meant that, while all of the American Eagles were sold within minutes, thousands trying to buy one were left looking at an error code on their computer.
The site appeared to return to normally around 2:00 PM Eastern time, after which the Mint responded to press enquires with the following email:
The 2020 End of WWII 75th Anniversary American Eagle One Ounce Gold Proof Coin and the End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle Silver Proof Coinwere released for sale at noon ET on Nov. 5. The release of these coins resulted in the highest website traffic we have ever experienced, which greatly exceeded our expected capacity. This high volume caused website instability, and customers encountered error messages and in some cases were unable to purchase their desired product. Due to extremely high demand, the American Eagle gold Proof coin became unavailable by 12:07 p.m. We are pleased with the initial demand but are also in the process of evaluating the various customer concerns and system constraints and/or failures we experienced.
We want to assure you that the United States Mint remains committed to providing the highest possible level of customer service, and regret any inconvenience or frustration this buying experience caused.United States Mint Press Email
Like many Numismatic sites and blogs, I have brought up multiple times the need for the Mint to improve its underlying technology and infrastructure to deal with the loads customers put on it when highly sought and limited products are released. Yesterday’s situation was by far the worst of any of the previous slow downs during these events. It creates a horrible user experience that leaves customers frustrated and unwilling to even attempt to buy these products going forward.
Time to improve things United States Mint.