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If you tried to buy a Gold or Silver coin at the US Mint today, you probably thought that you would have to be QUICK. With less than 2,000 Gold coins available, you were never going to have more than mere seconds to get a coin in your cart.

But we were hit with some new and extremely poorly implemented technology today – designed to keep out bots that might scoop up multiple coins.

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I applaud that attempt, but they CLEARLY never actually tested their plan in a simulated environment.

I had the page loaded, ready to refresh at exactly noon and made sure I was logged in. That’s literally all you can to to be prepared aside form having your credit card already saved.

I expected issues with the page reloading under heavy server load. That was to be expected. And I expected my odds were extremely low, no matter what I did.

But then I (as you did!) got hit with this two step picture CAPTCHA.

Don’t go too quick and miss one, or you lose! But don’t go to slow – or you lose!

I got it right, and then got to the checkout page. For some reason, selecting my saved credit card didn’t work, so I quickly typed it in. One might assume that was what caused me to miss it, but we’ll never know. Because when I submitted the payment, I got this:

This is a screen grab from my phone when I tried that next – but the original error was on desktop.

So, as anyone would do, I hit Refresh.

And then I got this:

A few times, I even got this.

Long story short, this is on Cloudflare, a company that offers a ton of great services ranging from page speed to preventing Denial of Service attacks. I use them for this site, and normally love them.

But Cloudflare screwed this one up big time.

Cloudflare is definitely smart enough to know the difference between a bot hammering a page and someone trying to reload after getting an error due to server overload. Definitely. But it wasn’t implemented to know the difference here, leading to a variety of errors.

Worse, once you got the Cloudflare temporary ban, how would anyone know how long to wait before trying again? 5 seconds? 30? 60? Is trying again making it worse? But the coin is in my cart! Ugh.

Anyway, if you failed trying to get the coin, feel better knowing that even if you did everything perfectly, you probably still wouldn’t have gotten the coin. I mean, your chances were minuscule even if the site worked. Somehow, knowing it was technology working against us makes it sting a bit more, though.

I don’t even know what to suggest for next time, since this was beyond our control. But it wasn’t just you….

How’d you do?

Let me know below in the comments, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!

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New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

 

I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I did not get the captcha, but rather was getting server busy error messages ( was running with devtools open) .

    I got to the cart like 6 times and had the coin loaded (I did get the silver one). but kept getting the oops error. Once it got as far a waiting gif on order confirmation. Yeah it was messed up.

  2. Both hubby and I tried. My connection was through a firewall at work. Hubby, had his work machine and personal laptop going through home connection.

    We were very ready and knew the challenges. I failed and kept getting non stop captcha. Hubby sailed smoothly, first he got the gold coin after one captcha. He then proceeded to the silver, again got one captcha. And checked out. Received acknowledgment seconds later and confirmation for both within an hour. He managed the coins via the home connected machine.

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