Royal Mint Quality Control has No Standards
Royal Mint Quality Control
In my 8 years of trading silver bullion coins and bars it has been my experience that the Royal Mint Quality Control has the lowest standards or quality control of any of the numerous national or private mints that I’ve had to deal with, Obviously I know that bullion coins are not always perfect: they can and do suffer from dints, scratches, discolouration or milking but in general it tends to be a small percentage of coins that are affected. for example up until 12 months ago if I ordered 1000 coins from any other mint I might in the worst case scenario (if I was very unlucky) find maybe 50 with issues, and normally I would expect about 10 to 20 tops whereas from the royal mint if I only found 300 of the 1000 with issues I thought myself lucky, However in the last 12 months things have got much worse with the Royal Mint when it comes to the 1 oz Silver Bullion coins (2oz and 10oz coins, bars etc still seem to be ok).
It started with the Valiant & Britannia coins and went through the entire Robin hood series where the quality was so bad that I considered myself lucky if I got 200 coins that might be considered decent from a delivery of 1000, so 800 of them with issues, Which brings us to this latest delivery of 1000 Britannia’s where each and every one of the coins is scuffed on both sides: more visible on the Queen’s face but also across the Britannia icon (which is harder to photograph due to the amount of detail on the coin). Clearly this was a production issue as the marks were in the same places on all of the 1000 coins (please view attached photo’s).
What’s made this more concerning, or enlightening as to the root of the issues, is that after returning the coins to the Royal Mint they have returned the same coins back to me stating that these coins meet Royal Mint quality standards! I will summarise my thoughts on this at the end of this blog but first I thought it best to give you the timeline and course of events below to get you up to speed.
- 15th of March, placed my order for 2 monster boxes or 1000 Britannia’s
- 18th of March, my order of Britannia’s was received
- 18th of March, after inspection of the items I immediately rang the Royal Mint and complained about the obvious production issue on all 1000 of the Britannia coins first with Julie and then with the manager Hayley.
- 19th of March, as requested I emailed Hayley the pictures of the Britannia’s in question
- 21st of March, I spoke to Michael and a pickup / return was arranged for the 24th, through UPS
- 24th of March, it became clear that no pickup by UPS had been arranged. I rang again & spoke to Michael who apologised as the email requesting the return had been sent to the wrong department. A new pickup would be attempted for Monday the 28th.
- 25th of March, I received an email from Michael clearly trying to charge me for the return shipment “Please find attached your returns label for DHL and can you please put these label on the boxes. Plus there is a charge of £33.91 for picking up and will be between 12-2pm.” I immediately rang and spoke to Hayley who immediately agreed that this was clearly a mistake! She also then looked for the first time at the photo’s I had emailed her on the 19th.
- 28th of March, DHL picked up the 2 parcels and they were delivered back to the Royal Mint on the 29th of March.
- 1st of April, I spoke to Michael who informed me that it might take up to a week for a reply as the returns department had a massive backlog of inspections to catch up on (I can’t imagine why).
- 6th of April, I received a phone call from Michael who read an email from the Royal Mint Return Department stating that the Britannia’s in question were up to Royal Mint standards (see pictures to make an opinion) & he gave me two options, which he tried to pressure me into accepting, stating four times that he had to have an answer immediately, These were: Option 1, a refund or Option 2, the same Britannia’s returned to me! I had to refuse this 4 times & demanded to speak to Hayley, the manager. On speaking to Hayley she promised to escalate this to a production manager and get back to me asap.
- 8th of April, I rang and spoke to Arran who confirmed that on the 7th Hayley had requested a second opinion on the items.
- 12th of April, after a few attempts at trying to get hold of Hayley and leaving messages I complained by email to the head of customer services at royal mint.com.
- 13th of April, I received a reply to my email From Emma who was going to get up to speed & look into the situation.
- 14th of April, I received an email from UPS stating that I had 2 parcels on the way to me from the Royal Mint.
- 15th of April, Emma replied to me “Thank you for your patience when I have looked into this further. I have spoken with Hayley who was awaiting feedback from the production manager and despite chasing on a number of occasions had not had a response. I have looked into this today and following a review of the product they confirmed it met standard and it would seem the product was shipped back to you via UPS tracking number XXXXX. This shipment is currently showing delayed. I have raised an enquiry to understand where the shipment is. Hayley has now shared the images you originally shared with us and I will discuss this with our production manager in person next week. The team won’t return until Tuesday but I am on holiday until Thursday. This mailbox will be monitored Tuesday and Wednesday by one of my colleagues. I am sorry about your experience Mr Whitehouse. I will update you as soon as I can next week. “
- 19th of April, the same 2 monster boxes of 1000 sub-standard Britannia’s were returned to me.
- 26th of April, I received the last email from Emma “Good Afternoon Martin, I can see that the items have now been returned to you successfully. I am sorry that what was asked did not happen. I understand you were unhappy with the quality of the bullion coin and dispute the production manager’s assessment. I can escalate this for review should you feel this is not the right decision. If you wish for me to do this it would be helpful to me if you could include photographs of the quality issues?”
- 1st of May, No further correspondence has occurred, and I still have the sub-standard Britannia’s.
If I give the Royal Mint Quality Control the benefit of the doubt, I can only assume that the reason why they returned the same Britannia’s back to me is because they were well aware that all the Britannia’s that they have recently made have the same issue and they could not have sent me anything better, The alternative, which I had rather not have to believe, is that they deliberately put me through this returns procedure for over a month so as to make the returns process so long winded and painful in order to make sure I would never want to go through it again, I do not blame the individual Royal Mint employee’s as all of them who have seen the photo’s have agreed with me, so I suspect they were acting under orders or directions to conclude this returns process in the way that it has ultimately ended.
I’ve spoken to about 15 other dealers and suppliers who all agree with me regarding the terrible quality of the Royal Mint products that have been sent out over the last 12 months, They have also commented that the issues apply not only to the 1oz silver bullion coins but apparently also to gold coins and Proof coins, which are items I personally do not deal in, Two of my suppliers in Europe have told me that they no longer order Royal Mint products from Wales for this reason and that they only order products from the United states Royal Mint facility because, unlike the UK Royal Mint, they apparently still care and take pride in the quality of the items they send out. Because of this information I’ve ordered 1000 American-made Britannia’s through one of those dealers and hope to be able to remove the disclaimer on my Britannia Item listing in the future. I’ll just have to ignore the fact that, as a UK dealer, in order to get decent quality I have to order American-made Britannia’s from a European supplier because the UK Royal Mint has clearly nothing but contempt for its own customers!
The fact is that staff at the royal mint both in the returns department and even a production manager think that this is now the standard for bullion coins, In short it means that scuffed, and scratched Silver Bullion coins with an obvious production issue are now the standard: you cannot expect any better from the UK Royal Mint as this is the best they can do, and should you return the items for being not as described due to the obvious production issues they will, after a month of playing games, return the same coins to you on the basis that the coins meet Royal Mint standards. So as far as the Royal Mint is concerned bullion coins have zero collectability factor and should be judged purely as scrap metal being sold at a premium. This should worry anyone stupid enough to purchase 1 oz silver bullion coins from them in the future.
Quick update & end to the situation
- 2nd of May, I posted this blog
- 3rd & 4th of May, posted links to social media
- 4th of May, Recieved this email from the Royal Mint at 15.41, “Good Afternoon Martin, Thank you for your e-mail and the attached images. I have escalated this issue internally and there are wider conversations on-going regarding the quality. What I would like to do to put this right for you is arrange collection of the product by our own security team and they can bring replacement product with them which will have had an outward inspection by our bullion team to ensure this meets your expectations. Would you be happy for me to arrange this Martin? Kind Regards, Emma”
- 6th of May, I replied to the email, “Good morning Emma, Thank you for your kind and generous offer on the evening of the 4th of May but after 47 days of being subjected to Royal Mint customer service procedures and standards I’m no longer in the mood to tolerate any more of your behaviour & I’m chalking this up to lesson learned and moving on, For years I’ve had conversations with royal mint managers about the decline and general lack of concern for quality control which the royal mint is completely aware of due to the continuous complaints it receives from both customers and Dealers & it only seems to get worse as time goes on, So it’s clear to me that even if I was to subject myself to another arranged pickup and resolved this order chances are it would be the same on the next order of 1oz Bullion coins, because the mentality of the decision makers at the royal Mint is still of the opinion that if the bullion coins are too good no one will want to pay for the proofs (not that you don’t have similar problems with proofs from what I understand) for some reason they seem more concerned about competition between the proof and the bullion departments than they should be and less concerned about the fact that your real completion is against the various international mints who offer much better quality items, basically they sell items as described with the understanding that customers expect the coins to look like they do in the pictures, so as described by law and not just fall back on this weak excuse of they are only bullion coins allowing for them to be sold in any condition. I’ve been reliably informed that your facility in America which makes coins for the American market still takes pride in its work so I’ve ordered another 1000 Britannia’s through a supplier who only purchases royal mint products through them and not from you, Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive otherwise I’ll just stop purchasing royal mint 1oz products altogether, If you want to contact me regarding quality and condition of bullion coins made by at least 20 other international mints which I can regularly compare yours against I would be happy to help, As a British citizen I would like nothing more than for my national mint to stop being an embarrassment. Wishing you all the best sincerely martin”
- End of story
If you have any questions you can ring me on Tel: 0191 2099300 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org