This past weekend I visited my local branch of the US Postal Service holding one of those salmon-colored forms saying that I had a package that needed to be singed for. The form said that the item was from the US Department of the Treasury. Not thinking about it, I thought that the mail was work-related as in real-life I do some work for Treasury. But when the Postal worker brought out a box, I knew that it was my order for the Texas Coin and Currency Set.

After signing the form, I picked up the box and thought it was a little light. When I persevered in the dash to the Internet to place my order, I ordered five. The box did not feel like it held five sets. After placing the box in my trunk, I used my car key to cut through the packaging tape. In the box were TWO carefully wrapped Texas Coin and Currency Sets. I fumbled through the box looking for an explanation and found a letter from Kevin Brown, Division of Marketing Manager of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The letter blames system failures “… due to the high volume of users trying to access the website.” It further blames “… the Bureau’s Automatic Call Distribution telephone system…” for a “… Treasury wide…” failure that “… also affected other agencies.” This caused BEP to oversell the sets. Although I work with computers for a living, I will not comment on the technology behind this statement except to say I am very disappointed as to how my tax dollars have been misued.

As for the order, in the BEP’s version of “fair,” the powers that be changed the quantities of the orders. With an original limit of 25 sets per order, the reductions were made as follows:

Original Request Reduced Quantity
1–2 sets 1 set
3–9 sets 2 sets
10–20 sets 4 sets
21–25 sets 5 sets

When you place an order from BEP via the Internet, they immediately charge your credit card. When you place an order on the telephone, they charge your credit card when the order is placed. Since I was able to place my order over the Internet, my credit card was charged for five sets, which three were credited at the end of July. For a month, Treasury held my money with no intention of filling my order.

It bothers me that BEP charged my credit card prior to shipping the product. If this was done by a commercial vendor I am sure that an oversight group like the Federal Trade Commission would be jumping in with both feet to investigate. I think it is time to write my members of congress to call BEP to task for this fiasco.

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