Exquisite U.S. Mint packaging for 2011 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Sets–and holdering requirements for the coveted anniversary labels–have combined to create handling and shipping snafus at top-tier companies PCGS and NGC.
The sets come in deep blue boxes whose color contrasts perfectly with the mint, proof and reverse proof state coins featuring West Point, Philadelphia and San Francisco mint marks.
However, to holder the five-coin array, PCGS and NGC require that each set be submitted in sealed U.S. Mint shipping boxes. This is a valid policy that prevents coins that can be purchased individually, such as the bullion 2011 Eagle, from being labeled as emanating from an anniversary set.
NGC and PCGS are handling requests for return of blue boxes differently. NGC’s policy requires a submitter to request the return of the box. A simple $1 handling fee plus additional mailing is billed to the person’s account.
PCGS’s policy was announced in an email by Don Willis, President, who noted that the 25th Anniversary program “has been a smashing success for the Mint” and that most submitters “ask to have their Mint set packaging returned … placing severe demands on PCGS.”
Willis, of course, is correct. As he notes, “the size and weight of the Mint set packaging requires that it be returned separately from the coins resulting in extraordinary handling and cost.”
The PCGS policy is spelled out in the following release:
- Effective for all submissions postmarked after November 18, 2011 PCGS will charge a return shipping fee for 25th Anniversary Mint set packaging.
- Return shipping fees must be included in the original submission.
- Return shipping fee for up to two 25th Anniversary sets is $20. That is two Mint sets for $20. Return shipping fee for one set is $20 as well.
- Return shipping fee for three to five 25th Anniversary Mint sets is $30. Any number of Mint sets from three to five will cost $30 to be returned.
- Return shipping costs for over five 25th Anniversary Mint sets will be based on the above costs. (ex. Five shipping boxes of five Mint set packages will cost $150.)
PCGS will not return Mint set packaging for submissions received without prepayment. Nor will the company accept phone calls requesting shipment after a submission has been received.
First of all, it should be acknowledged that both companies are doing their best to grade coins in a deluge of submissions. Secondly, requests for return of packaging and explanations about policies have been tying up Customer Service inquiries on other submissions due to the huge number of anniversary sets sent in for grading. Thirdly, there are legitimate billing and shipping issues associated with returning packaging.
That said, it is interesting to see how both companies handled the snafu. On the one hand, NGC is going out of its way with customer service, to the point of returning all paperwork and keeping track of billing issues. It has delayed the company’s typically swift processing of new submissions by 3-4 days.
PCGS’s policy seems harsh at first blush. But the company is focusing on its operations and the timely return of submissions, as it should.
The question is what will be done with those boxes that are not being returned? As demand for the sets rises–see this post from Louis Golino on exorbitant pricing–those boxes are going to come in handy. Dealers will be tempted to assemble their own sets from a combination of lesser MS/PF coins and single-issue sale Eagles (the very reason that holdering companies require sealed U.S. Mint shipping boxes).
Perhaps in the future the U.S Mint will devise a marketing mechanism that separates coins from packaging, at least on its limited edition/high demand products. For instance, coins can be placed in inexpensive sealed cardboard boxes with a special U.S. Mint label attached to collector boxes, enabling hobbyists who want to grade coins to keep the boxes without burdening slabbing companies.
Coin Update News wants to hear from you, our readers. What do you think of the 25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set packaging Snafu? How, if at all, have you been affected? What do you recommend?