Just over a week ago, I made a post in my blog that no longer recommended Northwest Territorial Mint and that I would be dropping them as an advertiser. I made a hasty decision, based primarily on one letter from a blog reader. Because I had recently seen two precious metals firms go out of business, I felt that I had to take immediate action to protect the best interests of my readers. (Nobody likes to be the proverbial “third guy in line.”) It was only later that learned the full details on this reader’s order. It was for a fairly substantial number of Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins. This was an unusual order, because it was for a product that Northwest Territorial Mint does not produce itself. Therefore, the availability of these coins was partially beyond their control. In the past year, silver has gone through some huge price swings and the national mints have sold out of inventory, or rationed their shipments. The latter is what delayed and eventually caused cancellation of this particular customer’s order.
Part of my initial reaction to this reader’s letter was based on having seen several previous complaints, because of slow deliveries. (Not canceled orders–just slow deliveries.) This colored my judgment. What I didn’t take into account was the huge volume of orders that Northwest Territorial Mint handles. The number of complaints seemed large, compared to my other advertisers, but as an actual percentage of sales, they were actually quite low. Northwest Territorial Mint does $300 million worth of business each year and they have several hundred employees. In addition to bullion coins and bars, they also produce military service medals for the U.S. military. They are in fact the largest private mint in the country. That is an entirely different scale of business, compared to many of my other advertisers. It only stands to reason that they would have a larger number of complaint e-mails. But the fact is that 97% of Northwest Territorial Mint customers were getting their orders shipped within their agreed contract terms. That is a much more useful metric than just the total number of complaints I heard each year.
The bottom line was that this customer’s refund did arrive a few days later than he had been promised. (The company had promised “7 to 10 working days” for the refund, but it actually took around 14 days.) However, it bears special mention that for the sake of customer satisfaction, Northwest Territorial Mint took an approximately $3,000 loss when they reimbursed this customer. (The customer had canceled his order after the price of silver dropped substantially, and the mint ended up “eating” the difference.)
My apologies for questioning the integrity of Northwest Territorial Mint. I let one very vociferous complaint letter effect me more than it should have. Upon further examination of the facts, I can see that the company does indeed deserve your business.
But here I must make one special note: Things are different when dealing with a mint rather than with a coin dealer. When you place an order with a mint, remember that it is a manufacturer, so keep in mind that delivery times from mints are often extended. This is because orders are often put into a queue, to accumulate sufficiently-large batches (“minting runs”) of particular coins or bars, to provide economies of scale. So if you want to get immediate delivery of coins or bars, then order through a dealer, with a high markup. (A coin dealer just resells existing coins or bars, so order delays are usually very short.) But if you are willing to wait up to 90 days (although the delays are usually much less), then order from Northwest Territorial Mint. They have some of the lowest markups in the precious metals industry. You get more for your money when you buy from a mint, but you have to be a little more patient.
I hereby retract my previous post, which was removed from the blog four days after its initial posting, as I was digging into the full details. I apologize to my readers and to Northwest Territorial Mint.
Sincerely, – James Wesley, Rawles