(Despite others saying they are out!)
Silver Stock Report
by Jason Hommel, March 25th, 2008
I spoke on the phone with Ross Hansen for about 45 minutes today. Apparently, I’ve slandered his business because I don’t know what I’m talking about with regard to his total silver inventories, because he said he does have more ounces of silver that he’s paid for that is at other locations, such as Johnson Matthey holding about 70,000 ounces for him, that he simply needs to go and pick up with a rented armored truck for about $3000. (As you all know, I advise against having other people hold your silver for you.) Here are my slanderous comments from earlier today that need retracting:
It appears to me that Northwest Territorial Mint is bankrupt. Based on Ross Hansen’s letter to me last week, a reader did some calculations based on the admissions in that letter. Ross sells 20,000 oz. of silver per day. And Ross has 300,000 oz. of silver “in the pipeline”, and deliveries are about 60 days, at best. There are about 43 business days in 60 days. (5/7). 43 days worth of silver, for Ross, at 20,000 oz./day, should be about 860,000 ounces, creating a deficit of about 560,000 ounces of silver that they are short, and have taken orders for, and have not yet bought that silver in this rising market from $13 to $20/oz.
Therefore, I must and do retract that guesswork math and numbers, as I have not looked at their books, and don’t know how their business is run, nor do I have any idea how much silver is owed to the mint, nor by whom.
I asked him to include such details of silver being owed to them in a letter to me. While full details are lacking such as the amounts and by whom and whether the silver is in transit or at other locations, the gist is there. Here is the letter.
Your attack on my company is beyond the pale, a disservice to your readers and the clients of Northwest Territorial Mint, and shows a complete lack of understanding of our business.
In my letter last week, I explained that we manufacture approximately 20,000 ounces of silver at our mint every day, and that we had approximately 300,000 ounces of silver in our production pipeline. Somehow from these two numbers you wildly leapt to assumptions about Northwest Territorial Mint that are totally incorrect.
In addition to our own silver production, what you fail to know is that we have tens of thousands of ounces of silver that have been purchased from our vendors and, while not on the production floor, are on the way. We receive silver from vendors such as Johnson Matthey, Pan American Mining Corp., and others on a daily basis. You also fail to understand that we mint silver products for many other companies under different brands, some of which do not pay us until they are ready to ship.
As I noted in my letter, the unprecedented volume of business over the past several months has put extraordinary demands on our hard-working workforce of more than 140 people. As a result, our delivery dates have averaged 30-40 days after our fund-clearance period and, on some products, at different times, they have been even longer.
We strive for excellent customer service every day. Acknowledging that some customers have gotten their products later than anticipated, we are doing four things to better serve our customers:
· First, we are working to communicate more clearly with our customers to give them a more realistic expectation on delivery.
· Second, we are continually expanding our inventory.
· Third, we are expanding our shipping operation, and
· Fourth, we are working to increase our production.
As I said in my previous letter, last year Northwest Territorial Mint shipped over 69,000 individual orders, encompassing more than 2,000 different products. Other than some complaints about delivery, we never had a complaint about the quality of our products or failure to deliver them.
For 27 years Northwest Territorial Mint has been there for our clients, and we look forward to serving them for many, many years to come.
Owner & President
Northwest Territorial Mint
P.O. Box 2148
Auburn, WA 98071-2148
Direct: (253) 833-7780 | Toll-Free: (800) 344-6468
Fax: (253) 735-2210 | www.nwtmint.com
I, too, have 28 hundred ounce silver bars that are “on the way” from another dealer, I expect it to arrive on Monday, the 31st, about 1 week and one day after I ordered on the dip on the 20th. This other dealer is drop shipping the silver to me, from another dealer. Perhaps my other experiences I have with other dealers makes it difficult for me to understand Ross’s bussiness pracitices of longer shipping times.
Ross was kind and patient with me on the phone and went over a lot of the details of his business with me, that he gave me permission to share with you. He says he mints about 400 different silver items, and up to 2000 different items. Each one requires its own production run. For example, they mint 5 ounce silver bars once a month. Therefore, things like that can require longer shipping times, depending on how the time of the order relates to the time they do a production run, and they won’t do an entire production run for a small 12 bar order. Their last run making 10 oz. bars, for example, they made 2300 of them, and made a small mistake as they realized they needed to make 1100 more.
So, small orders sometimes get caught in the mix, and generally speaking, people who order small amounts are the most likely to complain.
Further, I later emailed Ross that I liked his company because it provides two services that a lot of other dealers don’t provide. First, they ship small orders, and second, they ship overseas, and many of my readers could benefit from that kind of service. The only thing holding back my recommendation of his company was the large number of customer complaints about long shipping times.
Ross sent me a letter about their benefits and drawbacks, first.
Thank you, we strive to provide good customer service and the best products in the industry.
The advantages of dealing with Northwest Territorial Mint:
1. Clear, concise up-to-the-minute pricing on our web site of our bullion products
2. Highly competitive pricing
3. Factory-fresh newly-minted products
4. We accept small orders
5. Free shipping and insurance
6. Can lock in a trade without a pre-existing account or having money on account
7. We accept personal checks
8. A wide assortment of products
9. We ship to other countries
The disadvantages of dealing with Northwest Territorial Mint:
1. Longer lead times
I will be sending you a letter addressing our silver production issues in a moment.
Ross also stated that he does operate out of a personal “pool” of silver that helps his overall business liquidity.
However, if that is the case, it seems to me that small orders should be able to be shipped almost immediately out of such a pool of inventory, and don’t need to be “made to order”, but can be shipped out of the existing pool, but then again, I have a “complete lack of understanding” of how they do business.
Ross also buys silver futures contracts, when necessary, to offset risks on large orders, such as orders for 200,000 ounces of silver, so they really don’t get caught when customers place orders for silver in a rising market. Then, when he can actually place the order from a larger refiner, such as Johnson Matthey, he’ll sell the contracts at the time the real order is placed.
However, I will note that if you want to buy more than 50,000 ounces of silver, you can call Johnson Matthey directly, in Utah, and order direct, even though they don’t “deal with public orders”. I will also note that I do not trust the solvency of futures contracts, which is why I buy and advocate the buying of physical silver.
Ross also said that Pan American Silver, who they deal with, did their own audit/investigation prior to doing business with him.
However, I will note that Pan American Silver lost a lot of silver when Handy and Harmon went bankrupt about 10 years ago. I also note that if Johnson Matthey goes bankrupt, then Ross could take a financial hit to the bottom line.
Ross said that they do sell more silver than the silver that they mint on a daily basis, as they sell Maples and Eagles from other mints, and they have no choice but to delay deliveries of those products as they are delayed in being shipped to him.
However, others have noted that the delays from the NWT Mint on Maples and Eagles are significantly longer than from other dealers, but then again, I have a “complete lack of understanding” of how they do business.
I’m very glad that Ross appears to be taking my advice, and will advise clients of his longer shipping times, so as to avoid further customer misunderstandings, frusterations, and complaints.
I look forward to seeing customer complaints about the NorthWest Territorial Mint decreasing in the months ahead. And I also look forward to being able to recommend their company enthusiastically and without reservation, as I see that happen.
Perhaps the best thing about the NWTMint is the extremely high quality of their new products. They have teams of artists that help put art into metal, starting from making the sculptures for the dies that are used to stamp the metal.
That’s as solid of a retraction that I can give without giving a full recommendation, which is what I’d really like to do. After all, the NWT Mint is a key link between the investing public, and the “user unfriendly” form of the 1000 oz. bars at NYMEX, and I’d like more than anything to help get that silver into the hands of more people, whether through NWT mint or any other mint.
Another way to do business with the NWT Mint is to walk in with cash, and carry away your silver the same day, and that’s a policy that I always recommend. Ross said he would not mind filling orders that way, because it generates “instant profit”.
However, I’ve heard from others that they have been turned away at the Auburn location. From three weeks ago, someone posted, “They don’t do cash and carry at their Auburn location. I’ve asked them several times and was told they don’t keep any bullion in stock.”
All that being said, one way to discern the truth of any matter is to examine the testimony of several witnesses. Here then, are a few customer complaints, some of the latest 20 out of 40 that I’ve received over the last week. So as to avoid publishing them all, here are the ones that are current, and still have not received silver, and it’s been over 2 months. Every one of these complaints was sent to Ross Hansen via email, so he can either fill the orders, or question his accusers.
Last winter (07) I placed 2 orders and it took 3 months to recieve them.Last November 07 I ordered gold and silver, I got the gold in late January, still waiting for the silver.Why did I re-order? because they had the best prices I could find. Not such a good idea now I guess.
JasonI’m another very unhappy; no-longer NWT customer. 1st order: Aug 2007, $250 face silver halves, received Nov 2007. Last order: Oct 2007 $250 face silver halves, NEVER received! I contacted them in Feb 2008, 70 days after they cashed my check in Dec 2007; the price of silver increased approx $4/oz. They told me that they cancelled my order. I asked WHY they did NOT contact me to let me know; NO RESPONSE! I contacted them again, telling them that by cashing my check they agreed to the order. I told them they should either give the Silver, or my $2500 plus $4/oz, which is the amount of the price increase. I also asked them to explain why they believed that it was ok for them to keep my money ” interest free” after they claimed to have cancelled my order? “Clerical error” was their response. With the first order they claimed: “shipping oversight”! They sent my check back w/ 6% interest, with a note telling me that I should be grateful: “because 6% is more than I would have received from the bank”. NWT takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for how they do business!!!
Thank you for your efforts.Sincerely,johnMatt: 5:16
Jason, I bought a monster box from Nwmint,In Jan,2007 they said the certified check I sent nevergot to them, a month later, they said the post office put the check in the wrong po box. A month later they sent me an email saying the check was in their hands. I do not believe the check was lost. For whatever reasons I had the monster box locked in at $ 7084.00 that is what it cost me. So they lost a bunch of money even at todays prices. I dont know whythe delay in sending the silver has anything to do with timing in receiving the box??
Furthermore, I do have copies of 40+ complaints against NWT Mint now in my member’s forum, and I will be logging additional complaints as I receive them, both to protect myself from a libel lawsuit, and to possibly refer to the Attorney General.
Here is a thread of complaints against NWT Mint on an independent internet forum with 61 posts in just over a year. There is a poll at the top of the forum, with NWT Mint receiving a very low rating from most users, 57%, or 28 people, rated the company with 1 star, the worst rating.
NWT Mint is being sued by the State Attorney General, as I mentioned last week.
State sues Auburn gold investment company, Northwest Territorial MintInvestors didn’t get products on time, state says
And Ross responded publically to that, too, here:
Response to Attorney General Lawsuit Filed Against Northwest Territorial Mint
I sincerely hope that Ross wins his lawsuit, fills customer orders earlier than most expect, and that he fills the needs of the marketplace in a professional manner.
As always, I remain optimistic about everything, that silver will keep going up in the long term, and that that will be great for the entire economy.