After going on sale at noon, the U.S. Mint changed the catalog page for the 2011 American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set to say the sets have been SOLD OUT at 6:00 PM.

Those of us who were able to order sets found that the U.S. Mint early was faced with slow response time at the website and busy signals on the phone. In fact, the phone system was the most frustrating. After calling 1-800-USA-MINT, the interactive voice response (IVR) system answered and presented the options. After pressing “1” to order products, we were told “Your call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.” Sometimes, it was followed by a message saying that I was selected to participate in a survey after the call. But I never got to the survey when the call reverted to a busy signal.

The website was no better. Many times it did not respond. When it did, users could only get back to the front page. After being able to select the sets and change the quantity, trying to check out became an act of futility. For the first hour, if you could get back to the online shopping cart, requests to checkout was not responded to by the U.S. Mint servers.

Fifty minutes into this adventure, my call sailed past the intro to actually place me on hold. A few moments later, a pleasant woman answered the phone and helped me place my order for five sets, the household limit.

Once the order was completed, I turned back to the computer and continued trying to place an order anyway. After trying for 90 minutes, I gave up and decided to have lunch.

U.S. Mint ordering limits prevented a quicker sellout. Two friends were able to order sets by phone at 3:00 PM. They called from work and each placed their order with the same representative.

Although I do my work for a different government agency, we always attempt to architect the systems, including the VRS, for the worst case scenario. Although predicting the maximum load and how to build systems is more of an art than a science, there are tools that helps the performance engineers’ job easier. The U.S. Mint should consider finding system engineers who come with performance engineering support to fix their systems.

Now that I have that off my chest, I am looking forward to seeing this set, especially the reverse proof. The reverse proof was the highlight of the 20th Anniversary set and should be the highlight of the 25th Anniversary Set.

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