Apparently, the management at the US Mint has blog posts like mine that talks about the cost of precious metal products and the their liberal return policy. Today, following a week where the prices were adjusted upward, the Mint announced a new return policy. The return policy has been reduced from 30-days to seven days.

Considering that the Mint’s pricing policy for precious metals changes weekly, it makes business sense to change the return policy to match. The seven day period starts from the day your package is delivered, which can be obtained from the package tracking information from the carrier used. Returned items must be postmarked within seven days of delivery.

So how can the Mint get a policy right and wrong at the same time? When the bureaucrats change the policy for all collectibles and not just bullion. According to the press release:

Rather than have two separate return policies – seven days for numismatic products containing gold and platinum coins and 30 days for other numismatic products – the United States Mint elected to implement a uniform seven-day policy for all numismatic products. This gives customers consistency and clarity when purchasing its products.

BULL FEATHERS! (I have to keep it clean!)

We live in a world where merchants have different return policies. Go into any big-box electronics store and look at their return policy—14 days for computers, 21 days for other electronics, and don’t open that software or music if you want to return it. Other stores have special sales that are not returnable and then there others who will take anything back.

Coin and metals dealers also have separate return policies for bullion and numismatic products. In fact, some dealers have different policies for graded and non-graded numismatic products.

By saying that the new policy “gives customers consistency and clarity” the US Mint is either patronizing, covering up for their own deficiencies, or showing disrespect for their fine employees telling them that they cannot handle a variable policy. If the Mint believes that the public cannot understand a variable return policy, then they are underestimating their buying public. And considering that Deputy Director Andrew Brunhart has a history of employee discontent from when he was General Manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), it is possible he does not trust the Mint workers.

A more plausible explanation is that the US Mint may not be able to implement a variable return policy because of technology and contractual issues. Since the US Mint entered into a contract with a new fulfillment provider, the order management system may not be able to handle the new requirement. After all, the contract was negotiated with the requirement of the one 30-day return policy. It is possible that the contract and the technology used by the contractor cannot implement the requirement. Rather than issuing a change request so that the tools meet the requirement, the US Mint is allowing the tool to dictate the requirement.

While I do not expect the US Mint to tell the truth, even though the administration it serves has declared a policy of transparency, I did not expect the US Mint to issue a press release with a shallow and patronizing statement as part of its policy driver.

I know that President Obama has serious issues to deal with, but the US Mint is a profitable enterprise that may be on the brink of imploding and needs attention. The president’s team must consider leadership change very soon before the implosion.

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