Any number of stores have policies against accepting cash in denominations higher than $20 or $50 bills, but what about loose change? A woman in Portland (the one on the left side of the country) says her local grocery stores refused to let her use quarters to pay for $32 in groceries.
“We had nothing to feed our children with,” the woman tells KATU-TV. “So we broke out the change.”
She says she waited until the checkout line at Save-A-Lot had cleared before trying to pay so she wouldn’t be holding anyone up while the change was counted.
“And when I went up, I told them, you know ‘I have change. Sorry, it’s hard times right now.’ And they go, ‘well we can only accept $5,'” she recalls, saying that tried the “Money’s money” argument with the cashier, but to no avail.
Mortified, she headed over to Fred Meyer, where the manager informed her she would have to use the coin-counting machine, which takes a 10% fee. The woman said she couldn’t afford to lose that much and began crying.
After another customer offered to buy her change from her, the manager relented and agreed to accept the quarters.
When KATU reached out to Fred Meyer, the store replied:
We apologize for the inconvenience the customer experienced at the store… Receiving change for a payment is a rare occurrence. Fred Meyer stores do accept change as payment and we will work with our store directors and management teams to ensure they know this.
Save-A-Lot issued a similar statement:
We deeply apologize for the misunderstanding that occurred recently at our SE Foster location. As a corporate policy, we accept all forms of payment, except for American Express. There is no maximum limit on cash payments, specifically those involving coins of any type.
KATU checked with other area grocery stores, all of which said they accept change as payment. But when they went into those same stores pretending to be customers, reporters discovered quite the opposite:
QFC would only accept $5 or $6 in loose change.
Albertsons said they would only accept $5.
WinCo and Safeway didn’t have a cutoff, but said they tell customers to use the change machine.
Only Whole Foods and New Seasons accepted the full amount of change with no hassles.
Contrary to what many people will tell you, there is no federal law requiring private businesses to accept coins — or any sort of cash — as payment for goods or services. But if these stores are going to go on the record as accepting coins, then they should make sure their employees understand store policy.
Thanks to Simon for the tip!