Town Institutes Limits On Coin Payments After Woman Pays $200 Sewer Bill With Change

Shh, you're safe now, pig. (yoshiffles)

Shh, you’re safe now, pig. (yoshiffles)

There is only one thing that happens when someone gets an affirmative reply to the question, “Do you accept change for payments?” You can be pretty darn sure the answer will be met with a whole lot of coins getting dumped on the counter, something one town wasn’t ready to deal with when a resident paid her $200 sewer bill almost entirely in loose coins.

The Pennsylvania town’s officials passed two separate measures recently in response to the woman’s nickel and dime extravaganza, with both the water and sewer authorities limiting the amount of coins residents can use in the future to pay their bills, reports the Erie-Times News.

Both boards’ resolutions say they won’t accept more than $10 in unrolled coins as payment, and no more than $20 in rolled coins in sleeves per bill. Customers will also have to write their names and phone numbers on each roll as way of taking responsibility for them.

It took four employees an hour to count up the woman’s loose change, sort it and put it into sleeves to take to the bank, the town’s executive director of the sewer and water authorities said. She used a few bills, but mostly coins from a full shoebox she hoisted onto the counter.

“They had never encountered a similar situation,” he said.

He asked the town’s supervisors to adopt similar rules so the entire town can be consistent and they did, writing up a measure for paying various other fees.

All over town, piggy banks are sleeping a bit more soundly at night.

Keep the change when paying Millcreek bills [Erie Times-News]

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  1. furiousd says:

    I thought there was some sort of “all debts, public and private” thing where if it was a bill (or ticket, citation, fine, what have you) where you were being required to pay a debt, then all legal tender must be accepted for payment. Of course, I may have just heard that from an ornery, uninformed person.

    • ResNullum says:

      31 U.S. Code §5103 says U.S. coins and currency are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. This just means they’re valid for such, not that they must be accepted. The Department of the Treasury has more information at the following page.

      http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/currency/pages/legal-tender.aspx

      • furiousd says:

        Interesting, thanks for the link. I suppose now it just remains to be seen whether the sewer company counts as a creditor: “This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services.”

        I take the wording to mean that if I offer to pay my debt (the bill given, implying a credit-type situation since services were rendered on promise of payment rather than an offer for goods or services not yet received) and that if they refuse my offer of payment in legal tender, then the only alternative is to clear the debt since an offer was legally made and refused.

  2. CommonC3nts says:

    One would think the town would just invest in a $150 coin counter instead of using 4 employees to count change.
    It is wrong if they refuse to take in change.

  3. dullard8 says:

    It would seem that, while a business must take legal tender to satisfy a debt, they may limit which legal tender they will accept.

    Look at it from the point of view of the business. It took four employee hours to count these coins. There is an expense associated with this labor. Who do you think pays for this? You, the consumer, as the cost is passed on to you.
    Are there companies out there who deserve disdain? Of course. If not there would be no Worst Company in America contest. I’ve run into my share of them and choose to buy elsewhere. There are also many companies who sell products for a fair price and provide decent service and support. The purpose of business is to make money, not to give you something for nothing. If a business doesn’t make money, it won’t be around long for you to complain about.

    It’s fascinating reading over time the attitude of many posters who seem to think that they are owed something by business. It’s almost an “Us vs. Them” attitude.If you don’t like a particular business, spend your money elsewhere with a company that treats you right. There are plenty of those to choose from.

  4. Terryc says:

    I don’t think it is an us vs them thing. But If the company had any cents lol they would have used a coin counter. And while they may not work as well there are even cheaper models then the one pictured above. Well below 4 emloyees spending the time to count the money. Also when someone pays like this it is a very passive form of protest.

  5. EducationalGeek says:

    Business does not have the right to say what they will accept and what they won’t except credit and debit cards since they are not issued by the government and therefore not legal tender for all debts and taxes. So keep on dumping your change and walk out. Let them try and enforce their policy, you will win in court.. End of story.