After making significant improvements that appeared to have worked, the United States Mint site once again succumbed to the buyer demand of a new product release. During yesterday’s release of the 2021 American Eagle Silver Reverse Proof Two-Coin Set Designer Edition, the Mint site became unresponsive for many buyers over an extended period of time. Indeed, performance of the site was so poor with multiple database errors, gateway errors, and 404 (non-responsive site) errors, many gave up. That led to the set being available some two hours after it was released – a shock to everyone who expected this set to sell out within minutes.
The trouble started immediately when the 2-coin set went on sale at Noon Eastern. Users began running into the anti-BOT mechanisms that the Mint has deployed to prevent them from buying up stock before actual human buyers have a chance. Indeed, some early buyers were able to add the set to their shopping cart but many ran into issues actually completing the transaction. For some, it took as long as 35 minutes to complete the sale, many concerned that they would not actually be able to get the set even with it in their shopping cart.
For its part, the Mint did acknowledge via Twitter that their site was having issues as buyers rushed (crushed?) the site to buy the set.
The frustration for buyers boiled over once more with multiple numismatic sites, forums, and groups flooded with complaints about the situation.
Interestingly, it had appeared for short time in August that the Mint’s issues with its website had been somewhat resolved. During the sale of the final 2021 Morgan Dollar and 2021 Peace Dollar, the site stumbled but did not become completely unresponsive for the majority of users. Yes, some did encounter issues but not nearly to the scale it had been in 2020 and early 2021. It seemed that the Mint’s anti-BOT efforts had worked. Unfortunately, yesterday’s events brought the harsh reality to buyers – and hopefully to the Mint – that the site is far from bulletproof when it comes to high demand product and exceptionally high traffic.
Interestingly, after 30-45 minutes, many buyers simply gave up. The frustration of the buying experience turned them away as well as the assumption that the sets would have all been purchased by that time. Ren, a reader of USCoinNews, sent a message some 2 hours after sales started that there were still sets available. I verified the sets were available on the Mint’s site and made a purchase, something I had not planned. Personally, at the time of the release, I was in a meeting and I had already assumed I wouldn’t get a set (yes, I do have a day job!). I suspect many others were able to do the same.
As of this morning, the Mint’s site indicates the set is no longer available.
Ultimately, the United States Mint must address the issues with its site. Buyer frustration has returned with a vengeance with some swearing off buying from the Mint directly going forward. An eCommerce site – and make no mistake, that is what the Mint’s site is in reality – should never encounter these issues.