"Mechanical Error" follow up questions

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I purchased a NGC certified coin on eBay and it arrived last week. Listed as a 1982 small date bronze 1 cent (MS 67 RD) it turned out to be a large date. Very disappointing. Reached out directly to NGC and received a quick response.

Based on NGC's guarantee, as a "mechanical error" I'm entitled to 1 free label change... I'm new at coin collecting, but I'll confess that that feels like the absolute least they can do considering the level of inconvenience I face.

Still trying to decide my next step, I asked some follow up questions:

1. Will the coin be reexamined or just relabeled? For1982, brass or zinc can only be determined by weighing the coin. Considering the date error, I’m concerned if that determination is correct. If it turns out to be zinc, then that’s a major issue. 

2. Will the coin be regraded? It would be wonderful if it got a bump up but if it went down, would the other portion of the NGC guarantee apply?

3. Will NGC cover my shipping costs?

I sent an email and left a phone message on the third and another email on the 4th with the above questions. No response yet. 

I need to make a decision on next steps quickly. Can anyone help?





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I couldn't wait any longer and returned it on Tuesday. Really disappointed to not receive clarification from NGC since even if it was confirmed as a brass large cent, I would have kept it.

It's been a learning experience and not in a good way.



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"Mechanical error" is where an obvious mistake was made with the label.  All you get is a free re-slab with a corrected label. You must mail it to NGC at your own cost.  They will pay to mail it back.  In the past, when I have sent "mechanical errors" I waited until I had another submission to avoid most of the mailing cost, or submitted during a coin show where NGC was present. 

The coin is question was likely correctly identified and graded but a error was made when the label was generated, so unless you really wanted a 1982 bronze 1 cent large date graded at MS 67 RD you didn't really miss out on anything.




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In this instance, I guess I have an issue with the adjective "obvious". I envision a true mechanical error as being a 1998 50c label on a 1982 penny holder. I think there is a significant chance the reviewer just messed up the small date/large date call. Wouldn't that then fall under the first part of the guarantee?

I asked two important questions as a follow up; will you confirm the identification of the coin (brass vs. zinc) and will you review the grade? Despite emails to multiple people, a call (unanswered, and posting here, I never received an answer to these questions. 

Also confounding the situation is that I was a buyer and not the original submitter. I see one of the greatest values of a top level grading organization is the ability to trust their work "sight unseen". Accidents do happen and I expect they're rare. How you respond to mistakes says a lot about the company. I think NGC's response is the absolute minimum they can do. I'm left with less trust in NGC not because of the error, but of the way they handled the situation.

Some people have said "buyer beware" and I get that. But I don't have the ability to "look and feel" the coins I want at a LCS or show and as a new collector, I was willing to pay a premium for a slabbed coin so I could rely upon the experts. Now I'm left with the question of what does it truly gain me? 

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"Mechanical error" is one that is evident on the coin and does not require an expert's decision.  There are additional charges for authenticity reviews and grade verification so they won't do this for free.

One would hope that the grading experts that look at each coin would also spend some time verifying the variety, however, it appears that they are under such time pressure that they do not routinely do this.  Unless the type of variety falls under the variety attribution category, that you have to pay extra for, you shouldn't expect the graders to provide this service.  In my opinion, and from my experience as a submitter to NGC for ten years, the folks in the receiving department that log your coin into the system do not have enough expertise to correctly identify all the coins that they handle.  I think most "mechanical errors" originate at this stage and I always check my submission as soon as it appears on-line because I know, from personal experience, that any mistake at this stage will go all the way through the system without being caught. 

Your coin was either submitted as a small date and the receiver did not catch that it was actually a large date, or they selected the wrong variety when they entered it into the system.

All that being said, TPGs like NGC run a business that does provide a useful service in providing impartial grading expertise -- you just have to accept that their true area of responsibility is fairly narrow.  Without them you would have to rely on your own grading expertise or that of the dealer you are buying from.  New collectors will experience frustration until some expertise is gained.  I suggest you give yourself some more time to build that expertise -- you may end up cherry-picking a scarce variety due to a "mechanical error".

Edited by jgenn
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