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Canadian Penny, 1858-2013
February 4, 2013 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Today is a new day in Canadian specie, being the last day that the Royal Canadian Mint will distribute the penny. Cash transactions will now be rounded to the nearest $0.05. CBC posts an obituary.

Businesses will be asked to turn in the pennies that they collect.
The Penny itself reacts on Twitter.
The American penny weighs in.
Obligatory Google Doodle.
posted by dry white toast (230 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
New National Motto: Canada - the sane person's U.S.A.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:19 AM on February 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


A nickel for five of your thoughts...

Doesn't work as well.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remain suspicious of people who don't like pennies even when they cost > 1¢ to produce. You don't have to dispose of pennies when you get them! That penny can be a penny for many transactions! Its value comes from reuse!

Wait, on second thought, I guess if you are in CND, you ought to be turning them in. Oh well.
posted by boo_radley at 8:24 AM on February 4, 2013


The only use for a penny is to collect it with others of its kind and pour them all into a coinstar machine in exchange for an Amazon gift card.

Are there ANY machines out there OTHER THAN Coinstars into which one can insert a penny? What was the last item you paid for using pennies? All they do is wear holes in pants pockets.

At this point, American pennies cost more than $.01 to mint. It is an insane coin. Lose it, I say.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:25 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Use of the metric system, dollar coins, and now no more pennies? Canada is managing to fulfill all my sad American dreams.
posted by komara at 8:26 AM on February 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


Are there ANY machines out there OTHER THAN Coinstars into which one can insert a penny?

Illinois toll booths. At least, according to The West Wing
posted by zarq at 8:28 AM on February 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Got rid of the last ones I had this morning in a tip jar. Can't say that I'll miss them.
posted by McSly at 8:28 AM on February 4, 2013


Starting today I'm paying cash when the total rounds down to the nearest nickle and using credit/debit when the total rounds up.

I'M SO TOTALLY GAMING THE SYSTEM!
posted by mazola at 8:28 AM on February 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


A while ago I had a big jar of pennies. Being a systematic sort of person I decided to use them to buy my paper in the morning which was sixty cents if I recall correctly. I would not count out sixty pennies of course but I would use at least ten pennies - sometimes fifteen. Until one day there was a new sign: "no more than five pennies."
posted by shothotbot at 8:29 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


What was the last item you paid for using pennies?

I do it all the time. Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?
posted by bongo_x at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


I have used a Canadian penny as a good luck talisman for over a year. This kind of saddens me a little.
posted by hellojed at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2013


Finally... now if they could just swap the sizes of the 5 and 10 cent pieces, we'd be set.
posted by piyushnz at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I always thought it wasn't particular relevant that they cost more than a cent to mint.

I do, however, think it's relevant that pennies have so little value that they are nothing more than an entirely useless irritant.

I predict that they will never go away in the U.S., because businesses will scream that if they must lower the price of their $14.99 in-the-skin tomato scramblers to $14.95, they will go bankrupt from lack of profit, and if they raise them to $15.00, they will go bankrupt due to lowered sales. I predict that this will remain true even if inflation drives the value of a U.S. penny so low that the difference between $14.99 and $14.95 can only be measured by using quantum mechanics.
posted by kyrademon at 8:31 AM on February 4, 2013 [23 favorites]


.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:32 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, doesnt this mean that the nickel is the new "penny" since it is now the smallest denomination. Otherwise the nickel is not 5 of anything. It is the smallest unit of currency.

They've just created a new Canadian dollar which is set as 5 old Canadian dollars and is still marked with a "5" on it for some reason.
posted by vacapinta at 8:32 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


New National Motto: Canada - the sane person's U.S.A.

Someone on Twitter said it best:

America is Homer Simpson
Canada is Lisa Simpson
posted by dry white toast at 8:32 AM on February 4, 2013 [37 favorites]


It stands for '5 % of a dollar'.
posted by Mister_A at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Are there ANY machines out there OTHER THAN Coinstars into which one can insert a penny?

There used to be stamp vending machines at US post offices that did, but the USPS started doing away with them a few years ago. I'm not sure if that process is complete across the country, but it probably is.

Then there are penny slot machines, I guess, but modern ones don't actually take pennies, or even necessarily coins at all, since, like most gaming machines, it's all done with cards or bar codes. There may be some older coin-operated ones floating around at smaller casinos, though.

Illinois toll booths.

Ah, yes, that's correct. "Any combination of U.S. coins, including pennies, is accepted [at unattended ramp plazas]."
posted by jedicus at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2013


bongo_x: "I do it all the time. Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?"

I can't remember the last time I actually had exact change. I never, ever leave the house with any coins and as soon as I get them, they go into the jar waiting for the next Coinstar trip. I hate having coins in my pocket.
posted by octothorpe at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


So, doesnt this mean that the nickel is the new "penny" since it is now the smallest denomination. Otherwise the nickel is not 5 of anything. It is the smallest unit of currency.

The cent is still the smallest unit of currency.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Swedish central bank discontinued the use of the copper 50 öre coin a few years ago and it's not missed, but taking low value coins out of circulation would would seem to contradict the idea that inflation is at historic lows. Moreover, this just contributes to more inflation.
posted by three blind mice at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Moreover, this just contributes to more inflation.

Cash transactions are rounded to the nearest five cents, not necessarily up. This does not contribute to inflation at all.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Swedish central bank discontinued the use of the copper 50 öre coin a few years ago and it's not missed, but taking low value coins out of circulation would would seem to contradict the idea that inflation is at historic lows. Moreover, this just contributes to more inflation.

Inflation is an increase in the money supply. In the first place, all non-cash transactions are not affected. In the second place, the rounding up versus down should balance out.

I hate having coins in my pocket.

First world problems...
posted by gjc at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a giant fish bowl. I put all my change in it. I have been calling it my "iPad 5 fund" for a couple of years now. When the 5th gen iPad is actually released I am cashing that sucker in. It's got at least a few hundred dollars in change in there.

I wish the US would kill our penny.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


America is Homer Simpson
Canada is Lisa Simpson


If anyone needs us, we'll be in our room.
posted by Kabanos at 8:40 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of the many *tweak* moments after coming to the USA from Australia is the first time someone tells you "that'll be $6.37" or some other random number that doesn't end in 5 or 0. In Australia they always give you the cash price (so in this case it'd be $6.35) and then charge you the actual price if you pay via card.

After hearing only 5 or 0 at the end of a price for so long it stood out like a sore thumb when I was told the exact price. Congratulations Canada for moving to where we were twenty years ago. Despite our currencies being worth approximately the same.
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


At last! No more of those fake Canadian pennies showing up in my change!

All of you Coinstar users, you might want to look around. My credit union has a coin counting machine that members can use for free rather than pay whatever ridiculous fee Coinstar is charging now. That alone is worth keeping an account there for me.
posted by TedW at 8:41 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I literally throw pennies away. INTO THE TRASH!
I like the idea of saving them for future generations of Americans, by storing them in landfills.
Landfills-The Wal-Marts of 2350.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:41 AM on February 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


So, doesnt this mean that the nickel is the new "penny" since it is now the smallest denomination.

It only matters for retail where cash might be handled, at a till or a restaurant cheque. For all other transactions, a debt card or a credit card on line for instance, increments of single cents can still be used.
posted by bonehead at 8:43 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Switzerland, they got rid of the 1 centime coins in 2006, thus making the 5 centime coins the smallest in circulation. I was there in 2008, and by that time, none of the vending machines or parking meters took 5 centime coins any more, thus making those coins entirely worthless. People frequently talked about getting rid of the 5 centime coin as well.

So, as much as I am totally for getting rid of the penny, there is something to be said about escalation. Although, I would have to say I wouldn't miss anything less than a quarter and if it meant that we got sweet $1, $2, and $5 coins (like the Swiss franc coins), it would be totally worth it.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2013


And now we enter the phase of Canadian Captialism where all prices increase by 2 cents so that everything "magically" rounds up, and no prices round down.

Eliminate prices ending in $0.N1 or $0.N2 and you immediately get a 0 to 5% increase in profit!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:45 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the official statement on price rounding:
The 2012 federal budget states: "The government expects that businesses will apply rounding for cash transactions in a fair and transparent manner."

The rounding will not be done on single items but on the total bill of sale. If the price ends in a one, two, six, or seven it gets rounded down to 0 or 5; and rounded up if it ends in three, four, eight or nine.
Lots more info on a CBC FAQ.
posted by bonehead at 8:47 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I literally throw pennies away. INTO THE TRASH!

I've taken to leaving them on the counter when I get them in change. I've noticed that happening in quite a few places around here now; the idea being that if someone comes in after you who is a couple of pennies short they can just pick them up from the counter and use them.

I suspect that the US will finally yield to common sense on this issue one day, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes. Are they the last Western nation to be keeping such a valueless coin in circulation?
posted by yoink at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2013


And now we enter the phase of Canadian Captialism where all prices increase by 2 cents so that everything "magically" rounds up, and no prices round down.

Yes. Because everybody only ever buys one item at a time.
posted by yoink at 8:49 AM on February 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Why do we need coins at all. Just round that shit up to the nearest dollar.

Better yet, round to the nearest $20 increment. As it stands now you get $20s out of the ATM, buy a pack skittles and end up with a filthy wad of singles you have to stick in your pocket, ruining the line of your garments. It really isn't worth the effort.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Finally, a reason to trot out my own personal pet crackpot theory that we should drop the penny AND the nickel, and round cash transactions to the nearest ten cents. Also, replace quarters with 20-cent pieces over a short time period in which you can turn in four quarters to get five 20-cent pieces, after which quarters are only worth 20 cents.
posted by davejay at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, apparently, this seem to happen even at retail. For example: if your lunch tab comes to $12.37, you would pay $12.35 in cash, but if you paid by cheque or credit card, you would be on the hook for the extra two cents.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2013


Inflation is an increase in the money supply.

Don't get technical on me. Inflation is the increase in price of things and when you get rid of low value coins, it's because they have no purchasing power. Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.
posted by three blind mice at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2013


Eliminate prices ending in $0.N1 or $0.N2 and you immediately get a 0 to 5% increase in profit!

Although I believe that some stores will do this, bear in mind that each store has to look at the GST and provincial tax amounts to calculate back what the price should be so that the total rounds up, so unless your store sells primarily one item at a time to people, it's not necessarily worth the trouble.

I've taken to leaving them on the counter when I get them in change.

Places around here usually have little containers full of pennies for that. Or used to, anyhow.
posted by jeather at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2013


No one is going to try and manipulate prices so that they come out to the round up range consistantly on a large scale. This sort of thing usually forgets that you would have to account for taxes, and that suprisingly people rarely buy a single item.

Now if you were say a coffee shop that 90% of your trasactions were for a single coffee ... then yeah it might make sense to ensure that your final cost rounded up. But people are pretty consious of price changes in that market so It's unlikely to happen till the next regularly scheduled price increase.
posted by cirhosis at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2013


Inflation is the increase in price of things and when you get rid of low value coins, it's because they have no purchasing power. Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.

Well, yes--it is a result of inflation. But it's not a cause of inflation.

(Many, many countries have done this quite successfully and seen no ill effects as a consequence. This is not a theoretical or speculative argument.)
posted by yoink at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


sweet $1, $2, and $5 coins (like the Swiss franc coins)

It's the one thing I hate when I travel to Europe, though. All those coins have appreciable value that you can't essentially disregard, as you can with U.S. coins. When you drop a coin when hurriedly making change, you might have dropped almost 3 dollars.

Also people who want to switch to coins for "low value" amounts (1-5 dollars) should realize that they're going to have to start carrying change purses like most Europeans do. I'll take a nice slim wallet full of paper bills any day.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't get technical on me. Inflation is the increase in price of things and when you get rid of low value coins, it's because they have no purchasing power. Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.

But you just said it was an increase in the price of things! (And eliminating the penny doesn't increase the money supply or raise prices, so it's not inflation by either definition.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.

Well, um, not really, because there will be an equal number of transactions that round down, and instead of a penny, you will need nothing.
posted by dry white toast at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2013


The cent is still the smallest unit of currency.

In the U.S. the mill is the smallest unit of currency (31 USC § 5101), equal to one tenth of a cent, and I don't know that one-mill coins were ever made.
posted by grouse at 8:57 AM on February 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


Don't get technical on me. Inflation is the increase in price of things and when you get rid of low value coins, it's because they have no purchasing power. Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.

I don't know whether you're serious or not. Either way people like you hold back the progress of humanity.
posted by Talez at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2013 [22 favorites]


I've a friend who developed chronic back problems at least partially because of sitting all day on a really thick wallet. One of the first things the doctor told him to do was to take his wallet out of his pocket at work. Made a huge difference.

If saving my friend's back means I have to have a few coins in my pocket, well, I'm all for it.
posted by bonehead at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Eliminate prices ending in $0.N1 or $0.N2 and you immediately get a 0 to 5% increase in profit!"
Your canadian math is different than my US math.
posted by HuronBob at 8:59 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the U.S. the mill is the smallest unit of currency

Yeah, but you can't write checks for mills, so the cent is de facto the smallest unit of currency, and would be even if the penny were eliminated.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:00 AM on February 4, 2013


And now we enter the phase of Canadian Captialism where all prices increase by 2 cents so that everything "magically" rounds up, and no prices round down.

This is calculated at the time of transaction, not on individual items, so outside of being impossible to guarantee (items add up to different things) to work, it's also a small fraction of a percent of the value of everything sold.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:00 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the U.S. the mill is the smallest unit of currency
Thanks for that, grouse!
posted by shothotbot at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2013


Rodrigo Lamaitre said what I wanted to say, but he said it in a manner that makes sense....
posted by HuronBob at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2013


Knock the final decimal place off all prices, cash credit or cheque. I'm in my forties and I can never remember a time when the penny, and it's giant idiot brother the nickel were useful.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


CBC radio's Cross Canada Checkup focused on this yesterday. The expert they had on didn't know whether merchants will continue to be obliged to accept pennies as payment, or whether they can refuse and direct you to the nearest bank.

Now that's what I call being prepared.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2013


America is Ned Hidilly Ho Flanders
Canada is Governor General Lord Thistlewick A Googily Doogily Flanders
Mexico is Jose Buenos Ding Dong Diddily Dias Flanders
posted by Flunkie at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The real question is whether Richard Pryor's scheme in Superman III will still work.
posted by Etrigan at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think I heard three blind mice's argument on Cross Country Checkup yesterday, right in between the guy suggesting that we all move to a base 16 money system (pieces of 8 for all, ARRRR!) and the woman repeatedly bemoaning the confusion that schoolchildren will experience when they are taught to count change because without a penny, nothing makes any sense.
posted by maudlin at 9:04 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't get technical on me. Inflation is the increase in price of things and when you get rid of low value coins, it's because they have no purchasing power. Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.

Yeah, we are totally in our way to the Weimar-Republic-wheelbarrows-full-of-marks to buy a loaf of bread here. Look how the Australian and New Zealand economies have crashed in the last twenty years. Judging from their films, the one has moved to a barter economy overseen by Auntie Entity while the other has been reduced to being populated by pastoral folk living in holes in the ground*.

Albeit not nasty, dirty, wet holes, filled with the ends of worms and oozy smells, nor yet dry, bare, sandy holes with nothing in them to sit down on or to eat.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:05 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


The expert they had on didn't know whether merchants will continue to be obliged to accept pennies as payment

Merchants were not obliged to accept pennies before, so they aren't now.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:06 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we are totally in our way to the Weimar-Republic-wheelbarrows-full-of-marks to buy a loaf of bread here.

Heard that argument yesterday, too. But just you wait, some day the boy will cry Weimar and this time the Weimars will show up for real, guys, and they will devour us all, and boy, will we be sorry.
posted by maudlin at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


According to the Currency Act, apparently no debt greater than 25 cents can be settled with pennies alone.

I'm not entirely certain how I will need to integrate this vital information into my life, but it's clearly important.
posted by bonehead at 9:08 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


First the plastic bills and now this. I know it's early, but this whole 21st Century thing is starting to frighten me.
posted by freakazoid at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2013


I'm currently waiting for some blowhard fellow American on FB to counter Canada getting rid of the penny with the only currency-based jibe they know. "OH YEAH? You guys have Monopoly money, not REAL money!"

*shakes head sadly*
posted by Kitteh at 9:10 AM on February 4, 2013


Wallets are another thing holding back the progress of humanity. Why do I have to stand in line behind some dude while he fishes his velcro Knicks wallet out of his back pocket, yanks and tears at the velcro for 5 minutes, then fishes through 20 years of debris for those singles. Wallets are for suckers. Carry your cash in your front pocket people.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:11 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The cent is still the smallest unit of currency.

In Canada, I believe this is correct. In the US, the smallest unit of currency of the five we have is the Mill (.001 USD)

The other four -- Cent (.01 USD), Dime (.1USD), Dollar (1 USD), and Eagle. (10 USD.) They were all defined in the Coinage Act of 1792, along with sub units. The nickel came much later (1866), there was a coin worth five cents minted as the half dime. Or, in early days "disme", the S was silent, and later dropped.

This is why the US coin worth ten cents says "one dime", not "ten cents" or "tenth dollar."

Oddly enough, though, even though they were minted as, and referred to, as "Eagles", "Double Eagles", "Half Eagles", and Quarter Eagles", they never said "Eagle" on them -- they either had no value listed, or listed the value in dollars -- in the case of the quarter eagle, as "2 1/2 Dollars" or "2 1/2 D."

You were just supposed to know -- and these were substainal amounts of money when they were minted.
posted by eriko at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Instead of a penny, now I need a nickel. That to me is inflation.
Unless we assume -- and I admit that these might not be bad assumptions -- that companies will intentionally increase prices because of this, or that prices are already skewed such that this change will by default favor companies rather than consumers, then this is not true.

You don't need a nickel instead of a penny. If you needed a penny before, you now need nothing. And if you needed two pennies before, you also now need nothing.

Three or four pennies before, you now need a nickel.

A nickel before, you still need a nickel.

Add all that up: Before: 1 penny + 2 pennies + 3 pennies + 4 pennies + 1 nickel = 15 cents.

After: Nothing + nothing + 1 nickel + 1 nickel + 1 nickel = 15 cents.

That's not inflation.
posted by Flunkie at 9:13 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]



Got rid of the last ones I had this morning in a tip jar. Can't say that I'll miss them.
posted by McSly at 8:28 AM on February 4 [+] [!]


I'd recommend that you not insult workers that way, but I guess we've put an end to that forever now.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:14 AM on February 4, 2013


Are there ANY machines out there OTHER THAN Coinstars into which one can insert a penny?

Although I haven't checked recently, in the US the stamp machines in Post Offices used to accept pennies, at least the ones that dispensed individual stamps (from a big roll in the machine), not the ones that just sold books of stamps. Although the book ones might accept them too, since the books don't always end up with nice round total values.

Merchants were not obliged to accept pennies before, so they aren't now.

In the US, no; but in Canada, per the part of the Currency Act that's quoted in the article, apparently coins are legal tender for all purchases so long as you don't use more than 25 cents worth of pennies.

Plus Canadians are polite like that, I bet even if you had 26 pennies you'd get away with it except maybe they'd give you the side-eye as you're walking out of the store or something.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to the Currency Act, apparently no debt greater than 25 cents can be settled with pennies alone.

I've heard that interpreted as no business is required to accept more than 25 pennies, but they can always choose to do so.

Oh, and Aubry, the economist who was on the CBC yesterday, said that the penny really should have been retired in 1982. That's some galloping case of inflation, for sure.
In papers and presentations for Desjardins Group over the last few years, Aubry used economic models to show that the penny should actually have been killed in about 1982.

That was a tipping point, as more Canadians hoarded the coins and the Royal Canadian Mint was pressed to churn out billions more to keep retailers stocked, costing the government up to $11 million annually. ...

Aubrey, now with the Quebec-based Cirano inter-university research centre, says eliminating Canada's nickel could be part of a larger strategy to retool the currency.

That would include creating a new coin to replace the five-dollar bill; adding a 20-cent coin; eliminating the quarter; perhaps creating a $200 bill; and reducing all coin sizes significantly to ease the burden on pockets.

But first, he says, Canadians must be convinced that the disappearance of the penny will have no effect on inflation, as repeatedly demonstrated in other countries that have ditched their lowest-value coinage.
posted by maudlin at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't remember the last time I actually had exact change. I never, ever leave the house with any coins and as soon as I get them, they go into the jar waiting for the next Coinstar trip. I hate having coins in my pocket.

I grab a small amount of change out of the bowl and put it in my pocket before I leave the house. Then I have exact change. Then I don’t get 80-90 cents change from my little purchase, or have to put tiny purchases on my debit card. Or stop to put air in my tires and not have any quarters, etc.
posted by bongo_x at 9:17 AM on February 4, 2013



And now we enter the phase of Canadian Captialism where all prices increase by 2 cents so that everything "magically" rounds up, and no prices round down.


Given that sellers already set prices at the largest number they can get away with, this doesn't seem alarming or to even be much of a change at all.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the US, no; but in Canada, per the part of the Coinage Act that's quoted in the article, apparently coins are legal tender for all purchases so long as you don't use more than 25 cents worth of pennies.

"Legal tender" does not mean that merchants have to accept it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The absolute most advantage a retailer will get out of this situation on every cash transaction to make $0.02 more than they would otherwise. And in order to pull this off consistently they'd have to sell just one item and one item only. Because, if they sold two, that would throw off the single item pricing "hack". There might be a mathematical way to game their prices such that they'd average a penny or two more over a lot of multi-item transactions, and I bet that Tim Hortons has already done that math.

But, and I'm going to actually say it because we just got through having a thread about the death of retail, if you've got GRAR about two cents of extra profit per retail transaction, you might want to ask your physician if Ativan is right for you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do it all the time. Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?

No. It's you and every old lady that's ever been in front of me in a line.
posted by chococat at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


But, and I'm going to actually say it because we just got through having a thread about the death of retail, if you've got GRAR about two cents of extra profit per retail transaction, you might want to ask your physician if Ativan is right for you.

Or a lobotomy.
posted by Talez at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2013


I bet that Tim Hortons has already done that math.

How? Because the tax amount is different in different provinces, but I don't think they can possibly change the cost per item for each province without getting howls of protest.
posted by jeather at 9:23 AM on February 4, 2013


I bet that Tim Hortons has already done that math.

In Ontario, at least, buying a single coffee of any size by itself already yields a price ending in 0 or 5. If the prices are the same in Alberta, this is also true, as the tax rate is the same on such a purchase.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:25 AM on February 4, 2013


Starting today I'm paying cash when the total rounds down to the nearest nickle and using credit/debit when the total rounds up.

Additionally, I'm going to make all purchases on an item-by-item basis to maximize effect.
posted by mazola at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


No. It's you and every old lady that's ever been in front of me in a line.

It's the universe telling you to just pay for the little old lady's coffee.
posted by Talez at 9:27 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


When the morning news shows did their "man on the street" interviews this morning, the biggest concern was whether all of the penny sayings and idioms would be affected. I love that; it's so Canadian.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:28 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


No one seems to have mentioned Australia yet which phased pennies out in the early 90's. Cash transactions are really a very small part of the economy, regardless of their high visibility, so this is going to make zero overall change in the economy, even if every cash transaction gets rounded up (which it won't).
posted by GuyZero at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2013


It's the universe telling you to just pay for the little old lady's coffee.

Oh god, not that topic again!
posted by Nomyte at 9:30 AM on February 4, 2013


No one seems to have mentioned Australia yet

What am I? Chopped liver?
posted by Talez at 9:30 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the many *tweak* moments after coming to the USA from Australia is the first time someone tells you "that'll be $6.37" or some other random number that doesn't end in 5 or 0. In Australia they always give you the cash price (so in this case it'd be $6.35) and then charge you the actual price if you pay via card.


Australia has been noted.
posted by Kitteh at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2013


Sorry Talez. My bad.
posted by GuyZero at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2013


A what? saved is a what? earned?

?!?

You just keep babbling on Ben Franklin...
posted by mazola at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2013


You just keep babbling on Ben Franklin...

Early to rise and early to bed makes a man old.
posted by Nomyte at 9:32 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I keep my change in my wallet (plenty of women's outfits don't have pockets) and use it up as I get it. I used to do the coin jar thing but I found I hated having to spend the time to count and roll it and take it the bank. I'd prefer to use my change, and consequently go through a little less spending money, which saves me the same amount of money as I'm supposedly saving by setting aside my coins.

I can't help wondering how many pennies I might have in my wallet and whether I'll be able to use them.

New National Motto: Canada - the sane person's U.S.A.

We're not a version of the U.S. The U.S. and Canada are like siblings: related, and with the expected sibling rivalry and occasional scuffles, but distinctly individual.
posted by orange swan at 9:33 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Honestly, a retailer is going to make more money in the gain in productivity their staff will experience by not having to count freaking tiny ass coins for every transaction than they ever would gaming you out of two cents.
posted by Jilder at 9:34 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, while we're on the topic of Canada, NPH assures us that tonight is Robin Sparkles Part IV on HIMYM.
posted by Talez at 9:37 AM on February 4, 2013


You know, and rage. Because there is always one turd of a human being who wants to buy forty bucks worth of stock with nothing but shrapnel, and it's bad enough dealing with 5c pieces. I can only imagine the vein popping frustration my American and Canadian retail working brothers and sisters must experience every time one of those gormless goons comes trundling up to their counter with a big rattly plastic tub of metal and some inane purchase - it's never, like, baby formula or insulin or anything that suggests the desperation of finding every last coin inside the couches or behind the washing machine or whatever in these cases, but shit like Spank Monkey Five for Xbox or a fluorescent pink and orange set of cheetah print hose - and you then get to clog up your line for like a month counting filthy filthy coins and everyone behind them in the queue is getting reading to commit either murder or hari-kiri, and you know if you mention to Captain Coins-A-Lot that really, you aren't required to accept more than 25c worth of their crusty coppers the resulting shitstorm would cost you even more time and what little shreds of dignity you have left, and in the end you wind up with a till that weighs more than you do and green fingers.
posted by Jilder at 9:40 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wallets are for suckers. Carry your cash in your front pocket people.

Man, I am so with you, but now that the plastic-ization of our bills has trickled down to the $20s I fear it is no longer a sustainable practice in Canada. Things are too slippery and lightweight and unfoldable and I am terrified they are going to fly out of my pocket at every opportunity. I may have to climb back on the wallet train soon and that causes me much sadness. Fuck wallets.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


TedW: "All of you Coinstar users, you might want to look around. My credit union has a coin counting machine that members can use for free rather than pay whatever ridiculous fee Coinstar is charging now. That alone is worth keeping an account there for me."

Coinstar doesn't charge for Amazon gift cards and I already give Jeff Bezos most of my money anyway.
posted by octothorpe at 9:44 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


All the local Coinstars charge 9.8% and only offer cash vouchers here.
posted by jeather at 9:47 AM on February 4, 2013


We're not a version of the U.S.

This reminds me of being at business lunch in Toronto and someone asked me: so what do people in the States think of our new Prime Minister.

Dude. You ever been to America?
posted by shothotbot at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I may have to climb back on the wallet train soon and that causes me much sadness. Fuck wallets.

Money clip!
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:51 AM on February 4, 2013


I've taken to leaving them on the counter when I get them in change. I've noticed that happening in quite a few places around here now; the idea being that if someone comes in after you who is a couple of pennies short they can just pick them up from the counter and use them.

Pretty much any store that I've been to recently has a penny jar / container for exactly this. I use them as much as I can, generally operating on the same principal of rounding as the stores will do now. If the cost ends in 1 or 2, I'll grab pennies, if it ends in 3 or 4 I'll put them in there.

Good riddance to the penny. A quarter is worth approximately the same as a penny was a 100 years ago, and most people I know do most of their transactions with plastic (either credit or debit cards) anyway.
posted by sauril at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2013


Clearly, this is the work of that nefarious Doctor Claw. For without any Pennys in Canada, Inspector Gadget will find foiling the villain's crimes north of the border nigh impossible.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


My savings are denominated in beer bottles. Like any true Canadian eh.
posted by srboisvert at 10:02 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


How can you embrace the metric system, yet reject the currency's unit coin? What a bunch of beaver-coddling hypocrites.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


you know if you mention to Captain Coins-A-Lot that really, you aren't required to accept more than 25c worth of their crusty coppers the resulting shitstorm would cost you even more time and what little shreds of dignity you have left, and in the end you wind up with a till that weighs more than you do and green fingers.

When I worked at a restaurant we had a dotty-but-jerkish-dotty-not-sweet-and-endearing-dotty patron at the restaurant who would come in everyday, order toast (And insist on getting four grape jellies, three of which she would eat from the container, like a tiny pudding cup), and get mad if her glass was wet ("The bottom of my glass is wet." "Yes, that's condensation." "I don't want my glass to be wet, dry my bottom.") Once she came up to the counter and poured her change purse out on the counter and told me to count out what she owed in the smallest denominations. "I can't do that," I said. "Why?" she snarled. "Well, if I'm counting it out, I could count it out wrong and take more than what's on the bill, couldn't I?"

She paid with a $5. And was back the next day. Ghah, that woman made it hard to feel sympathetic.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


New National Motto: Canada - the sane person's U.S.A.

We're not a version of the U.S. The U.S. and Canada are like siblings: related, and with the expected sibling rivalry and occasional scuffles, but distinctly individual.


I prefer the term "Control group for the American Experiment."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's time for another Good Idea / Bad Idea.

The End.
posted by Fizz at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there ANY machines out there OTHER THAN Coinstars into which one can insert a penny?

Won't anyone think of the Novelty Collector Penny Press Industry?
posted by OHSnap at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


When the morning news shows did their "man on the street" interviews this morning, the biggest concern was whether all of the penny sayings and idioms would be affected. I love that; it's so Canadian.

Linguistically speaking, you won't find anything better than an idiom to preserve the use of an archaic word or form of syntax for hundreds and hundreds of years. People will likely still be using "a penny for your thoughts" for a long, long time after actual pennies have disappeared, I assure you. You'll probably hear "go the extra mile" long after we finally switch over to fully metric measurements too.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


So now I have to put a nickel or dime on the railroad track to see it get flattened? And what about those machines at the highway rest stops that squash your pennies into some other form if you pay them a quarter?

I am old enough to remember when you could get penny bubble gum at the local store. My mom practiced this rounding theory. If there were leftover pennies, she would take the pieces of gum instead.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The main use I found for pennies in recent times is finding my wallet half-full of them and throwing them into the garbage, thinking "my financial resources are such that when I find this money heavy to carry around, I would rather throw it out than spend it". You feel like a plutocrat, lighting a cigar with a $20, just throwing the cumbersome cash away to avoid the bother of dealing with it. But it only costs, like, eight cents.

My favourite thing about removing the penny is that I finally have a specific Harper policy that I totally agree with, so I can point to it and pretend to be open-minded and fair when discussing politics.

PS to Coinstar users: the newer self-checkouts I've seen at Safeways have a money scoop thing you can pretty well just dump change into. You wouldn't want to do the pickle jar full, but it works pretty well for a handful.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:19 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the U.S. the mill is the smallest unit of currency (31 USC § 5101), equal to one tenth of a cent, and I don't know that one-mill coins were ever made.

Never EVER discount the mill. Those gas prices reading 4.099? That's the extra penny the f-in' gas companies make on every gallon without you even thinking about it. Millions, people. I wish I had a mill for every time someone failed to take that into consideration.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


> ... pour them all into a coinstar machine in exchange for an Amazon gift card

Except in Canada. CoinStar machines only give you store credit vouchers here.

I think they're worth the 11% service fee. I spent too many childhood hours counting, rolling and bagging small change for my mum to make me do it again. My bank only accepts professionally-rolled coins.
posted by scruss at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2013


There are banks that have coin counters in Canada! I know a few TD locations do it, and some BMOs have them even for non members. Of course the one time I trucked my 2 pickle jars full of coins to one it was out of service.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2013


Whoa, when did US Coinstars start giving out Amazon gift cards? I realize I haven't lived there in four years, but when I was dumping my change into Coinstar, I'd always get a printout to redeem my cash at a register.
posted by Kitteh at 10:44 AM on February 4, 2013


If I could draw, I would draw an anthropomorphic penny, prostrate on the ground, with smaller pennies covering its eyes.
posted by Mister_A at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would also draw naked ladies, but that's not the topic of this post.
posted by Mister_A at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


maudlin: I think I heard three blind mice's argument on Cross Country Checkup yesterday, right in between the guy suggesting that we all move to a base 16 money system (pieces of 8 for all, ARRRR!) and the woman repeatedly bemoaning the confusion that schoolchildren will experience when they are taught to count change because without a penny, nothing makes any sense.

I had to turn the radio off at that point, because I was so irritated at the callers. When the host asked the base 16 guy to explain his point in more detail I was like NOOOO! Stop encouraging him! It did not get better. I often dislike Cross Country Checkup, but something about this topic brought even more of the eccentrics out of the woodwork and turned it into Cross Country Weirdo Check-In.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Never EVER discount the mill.

Besides its somewhat nefarious use in gasoline prices, the mill is also the unit for expressing local property taxes which are earmarked for a certain purpose ("millages").

For example, see the language of this ballot proposal:
Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by 2 mills ($2.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 5 years, 2009 to 2013, inclusive, to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2009 is approximately $30,000,000?
posted by dhens at 10:57 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had to turn the radio off at that point, because I was so irritated at the callers. When the host asked the base 16 guy to explain his point in more detail I was like NOOOO! Stop encouraging him! It did not get better. I often dislike Cross Country Checkup, but something about this topic brought even more of the eccentrics out of the woodwork and turned it into Cross Country Weirdo Check-In.

Ha, Radio Noon Montreal was a cavalcade of elderly call-ins eulogizing the penny, along with the occasional conspiracy theorist. It was entertaining!
posted by Kitteh at 11:00 AM on February 4, 2013


hurdy gurdy girl, as I told somebody just as I clicked off the radio at about the same time, the ineffectual guest host was probably put in place to make us miss Rex Murphy. Nice try, but -- no.
posted by maudlin at 11:01 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Linguistically speaking, you won't find anything better than an idiom to preserve the use of an archaic word or form of syntax for hundreds and hundreds of years.

cf. "roll down the (car) window", "dial the phone"

I have a working Model 500 I keep around just so my daughter and her friends will understand the latter expression.
posted by TedW at 11:06 AM on February 4, 2013


When the host asked the base 16 guy to explain his point in more detail I was like NOOOO! Stop encouraging him!

Isn't this pretty much every single minute of Cross Country Checkup?
posted by ssg at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Every single minute of yesterday's show felt like 5 minutes of the usual show.
posted by maudlin at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


How? Because the tax amount is different in different provinces, but I don't think they can possibly change the cost per item for each province without getting howls of protest.

They already do charge slightly different amounts in different areas: I think things are a little bit cheaper in the Maritimes, generally.
posted by ssg at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2013


What was the last item you paid for using pennies?

I do it all the time. Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?


I loved self-scan check-outs for this reason -- paying with all the pennies I was saddled with, but only when no one was behind me in line.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2013


I glanced at a receipt I got recently (in America) and noticed that there was a line labelled "Rounding", which brought it to the nearest nickle. I was amazed that the machine had this capacity built in (though it makes sense now thinking that the same manufacturer might sell to Australia or NZ), and a little surprised that the merchant had enabled it.

BTW, America can't criticize the coinage of any other country in the world, as we have the most hostile markings anywhere. Instead of having a 1, 5, 10, and 25 marked anywhere on our coins, users are expected know how to read English and understand "ONE CENT", "FIVE CENTS", "ONE DIME", "QUARTER DOLLAR".
posted by benito.strauss at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Won't anyone think of the Novelty Collector Penny Press Industry?

We still had those back in Australia. They make the machines with stacks of copper slugs about the size of a penny ready for pressing when you don't have a readily available copper coin in circulation.
posted by Talez at 11:27 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?

The only reason to pay with exact change is to avoid getting more pennies!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:28 AM on February 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


In the U.S. the mill is the smallest unit of currency (31 USC § 5101), equal to one tenth of a cent, and I don't know that one-mill coins were ever made.

I remember hearing about mill coins when I was a kid. It turns out they were just issued by the state.
posted by Quonab at 11:32 AM on February 4, 2013


There go half of Vermont's pennies.
posted by maryr at 11:39 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Coinstar doesn't charge for Amazon gift cards and I already give Jeff Bezos most of my money anyway.

Also this is the absolute best way to sort out your $10 silver quarters from 1946. It'll reject them, causing you to notice their different color and luster.
posted by atbash at 12:04 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love pennies. I pick them up when I see them on the ground, giving my hamstrings a nice stretch and making myself a tiny bit richer. And when I see Lincoln, I get minded of what a great President he was. A penny for my thoughts? Cheap at twice the price.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:27 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Am I the only person who pays with exact change when I have it?

Mere minutes ago I was in a (Canadian) grocery store. I bought three small items and the total came to $10.27.

I handed over a twenty and automatically, remembering the fistful of change in my pocket, said, "I think I have the twenty-seven."

The cashier said, "No, just twenty-five."

It is a new world! Mindful of the others upthread announcing their plans to game the system, I calculated that if I do this every day for the next thirty years, I can retire over two hundred dollars richer! Sticking it to the man!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:29 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wallets are for suckers. Carry your cash in your front pocket people.

I do carry my cash in my front pocket. In my wallet.
posted by juiceCake at 12:30 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


HuronBob: ""Eliminate prices ending in $0.N1 or $0.N2 and you immediately get a 0 to 5% increase in profit!"
Your canadian math is different than my US math.
"

It's this damn Moose Antler Abacus, it's all screwy.
posted by mannequito at 12:35 PM on February 4, 2013


I'm in Canada, so I've been seeing the Google Doodle all day as I work (is it up in elsewhere as well?).

It just keeps reminding me that copper is a really pretty metal.
posted by jb at 12:49 PM on February 4, 2013


The odd thing for me is that after these things being around forever -- and as a kid in the seventies, I could still buy a caramel for a penny at H&M Variety down the street -- I now have the knowledge that while they will dwindle from circulation, they will also dwindle from our memory. More than once I have had the jamais vu experience of coming home after an extended sojourn abroad, changing my pounds or rupiah or yen or what-have-you back into Canadian money, and standing there gazing blankly at a handful of change, thinking "Has a quarter always been that size?" We all will have that coming up as we stumble across old pennies. Ten years ago finding one stray cent in the back of a drawer was unremarkable; ten years from now it will be an occasion for momentary confusion and a shock of recognition, and explaining to young children what this weird brownish coin is.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:00 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Legal tender" does not mean that merchants have to accept it.

Thin end of the wedge....
posted by BWA at 1:02 PM on February 4, 2013


"Legal tender" does not mean that merchants have to accept it.

Thin end of the wedge....


This is not a new development. The meaning of "legal tender" and its misunderstanding by a wide proportion of the populace have stayed constant for many years.
posted by grouse at 1:12 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


America is Homer Simpson
Canada is Lisa Simpson
posted by dry white toast


(blows car horn and shoots off pistol in synchrony)
U S A!
U S A!
posted by 445supermag at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2013


It just keeps reminding me that copper is a really pretty metal.

And now Canada has more for the roofs of hotels and government buildings!
posted by GuyZero at 1:26 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It just keeps reminding me that copper is a really pretty metal.

Unfortunately, since 1996, the copper is only a thin plate. Current pennies are a rust proof-steel with about 5% copper plating.
posted by bonehead at 1:38 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And nickels are down to 2% nickel plating! Sad times.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:41 PM on February 4, 2013


WRT Coinstar, I bank with Bank of America (err, in the US obviously) and I can bring in a bag of coins to my local branch that I don't have to sort or roll at all. They send it off to some central counting place and then a week or two later a deposit shows up in my checking account. There's no fee at all and it's pretty convenient to just show up with a huge bag full of change.

Granted, they could be shortchanging me, but it matched up to the cent the first time I did this (I did count, to test it) and if you're using Coinstar/other machines it's doubtful you're counting it anyway.

I mean, I wouldn't get a BoA account just for coin-counting, but if you have one already look into it -- for once, it might be a convenient service with no fee.
posted by andrewesque at 1:43 PM on February 4, 2013


I need to see if I have any Canadian pennies around, so that I can put them with 0,01 and 0,02 Euro coins, in the hopes that sympathetic magic will make those two coins go away, and exact change less of a hassle to be asked for.
posted by frimble at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2013


It's not just steel. Some (most?) are made with zinc. From the Royal Canadian Mint:

"2000 to date*
Composition: 94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper plating
Weight (g): 2.35
Diameter (mm): 19.05
Thickness (mm): 1.45

*Note: Since 2000, the 1-cent coin can be produced using either the copper-plated steel or copper-plated zinc compositions."

Well I must say I'm shocked. With all the get-off-my-lawn types at MeFi I thought there would be more outrage at the demise of the penny.

I'm still the type of person who prefers to pay cash, including exact change when possible. I never use debit and only use credit cards for unexpected purchases (or gas).

It doesn't take me any longer to grab the change from my wallet than it does for every other person in front of me in line to figure out each store's debit machine, find their glasses (so they can read the numbers on the machine), figure out how much cash they want back, realize they messed up their cash-back button sequence, ask the cashier to redo the transaction, and then have to swipe their card a dozen times because the machine doesn't read it properly (or re-enter their pin more than once because they can't remember it).

So if every person here wants to send me all their left-over pennies, I'll be happy to take them.

And like a previous poster, I still pick them up if I see them on the ground.
posted by sardonyx at 1:53 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


First they came for the pennies, and I didn't speak out because had I figured out a way to game the rounding system with cash and debit card...
posted by achrise at 1:58 PM on February 4, 2013


I'm still the type of person who prefers to pay cash, including exact change when possible. I never use debit and only use credit cards for unexpected purchases (or gas).

This isn't about getting rid of the ability to pay cash, though--it's about the absurdity of having your least-value coin become an ever-smaller value without taking any rational steps in response. The purchasing power of a dime today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a penny in 1950--so why should we have a coin today that would have been the equivalent of a mil-coin in 1950? Would it have been a great boon to consumers in 1950 to have issued such a coin? Does the utility of the penny increase every year as its purchasing power decreases?

If you can't honestly answer yes to those questions, then there's clearly no reason to continue the expensive practice of minting one-cent (or, indeed, five cent) coins, is there? Eliminate the penny and the nickel and the only difference would be that paying exact change would take you a little less time than it does currently.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This has only made me want to own a mill coin. Presumably, if it still existed, it would be the size of a dinner plate and made of pure silver.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The purchasing power of a dime today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a penny in 1950--so why should we have a coin today that would have been the equivalent of a mil-coin in 1950? Would it have been a great boon to consumers in 1950 to have issued such a coin?

Well... yeah. It seems obvious that you'd want your smallest coin to represent an amount that's only change, an amount smaller than any reasonable purchase, in order to provide more finely granulated pricing. It looks like a penny between 1850 and 1900 was worth about a quarter in current money, and having to price items in increments that large seems obviously inefficient. Hence, the half-cent coin.

Hell, you could almost say that the penny is only now coming into its own.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2013


I don't know what to think about this. It just feels... strange. There's a lot of pennies out there hidden away in jars and drawers, so it's not like the coin will disappear completely. But adding in an extra step to round up or down before calculating the GST just makes it harder to know how much you're really spending. Not impossible by any means, but it takes a little more mental arithmetic on top of what we already do. Not a big deal for one item, but if you're grocery shopping for a couple dozen items it can make a difference.

If I had my druthers we'd keep the penny and get rid of the dollar coin. Bills for larger denominations, change for anything smaller than a dollar, and GST included in the purchase price of all items.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2013


If I had my druthers we'd keep the penny and get rid of the dollar coin.

Have you been in suspended animation for the last decade? Do you not buy things? Dollars bills are beyond useless. Candy bars cost more than a dollar these days.
posted by GuyZero at 3:08 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kevin Street:
But adding in an extra step to round up or down before calculating the GST just makes it harder to know how much you're really spending. Not impossible by any means, but it takes a little more mental arithmetic on top of what we already do. Not a big deal for one item, but if you're grocery shopping for a couple dozen items it can make a difference.
Only the final total is rounded. Only the final total is rounded. Only the final total is rounded. It doesn't matter how many items you buy. (And only if you pay in cash).

Sorry, but I am fascinated by how many people aren't aware of this very important detail.
posted by whittaker at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2013


According to the receipt, my payment was $6.02 above the owed amount today; the cash balance was then rounded so that I received $6.05 in change. Not quite sure if this reflects their intended long term store policy.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2013


According to the receipt, my payment was $6.02 above the owed amount today; the cash balance was then rounded so that I received $6.05 in change. Not quite sure if this reflects their intended long term store policy.

Well, as I pointed out above, a careful and shrewd approach to purchasing may save you ones of dollars per year, at the price of being thought a miserly prick.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:15 PM on February 4, 2013


Aha! My other receipt from today (resisting the temptation to edit into above comment) explicitly states:
                               Total: $28.27
                                CASH   40.00
                          CHANGE DUE:  11.73
                      ROUNDED CHANGE:  11.75 
So it's actually not that hard to get used to.
(I'm sure they'll try to find a way of adjusting the retail prices to minimize this somehow.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:18 PM on February 4, 2013


I'm sure there will be price creep in the very near future. Bump up prices to the nearest five cents. That makes calculating the tax (and most sale discounts) a bit neater and easier. Then there's no complaints about being charged an extra couple of rounded up cents on the final bill. But overall you'll be paying fractionally more for everything.
posted by sardonyx at 3:22 PM on February 4, 2013


The purchasing power of a dime today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a penny in 1950

That means the purchasing power of a dollar today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a dime in 1950. Why in the world does the US still use dollar bills?! In 1950-speak, you guys are stuffing your wallets with dime bills.
posted by jamincan at 3:29 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there will be price creep in the very near future. Bump up prices to the nearest five cents. That makes calculating the tax (and most sale discounts) a bit neater and easier. Then there's no complaints about being charged an extra couple of rounded up cents on the final bill. But overall you'll be paying fractionally more for everything.

This is false, because people do not purchase just one item per transaction. Eliminating the penny will not cause price creep or inflation or anything of the sort.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:34 PM on February 4, 2013


This is false, because people do not purchase just one item per transaction.

Shoppers made of straw do.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


The purchasing power of a dime today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a penny in 1950--so why should we have a coin today that would have been the equivalent of a mil-coin in 1950?

Because they price things in pennies? I’m not understanding all the talk of rounding and calculating, etc. Things should not be priced in increments of less than 5 cents if you don’t want to have coins of less than 5 cents.

I'm still the type of person who prefers to pay cash, including exact change when possible. I never use debit and only use credit cards for unexpected purchases (or gas).

I’ve actually gone back to this a lot lately. Cash is easier than cards and less trackable. That’s why I’m sure it will be going away soon and the move will be sold as being for our convenience and benefit.
posted by bongo_x at 3:38 PM on February 4, 2013


No they don't buy just one item.

But stores don't want to be bothered with people complaining about how they're being cheated by the final subtotal rounding.

So it will become a lot easier to charge $1.00 per item rather than 97 cents. Five items times $1 times Ontario tax of 13 per cent (for example) gives you a nice, neat figure.

Five times $0.97 times times tax leaves you with a total that needs to be rounded up to the next five cents.

So people paying with cash will feel "cheated" compared to people paying with credit cards, which leads to unhappy customers. It's an easier solution all around just to round the prices from the start.
posted by sardonyx at 3:41 PM on February 4, 2013


Cash is not going away in our lifetimes but electronic payment makes up the vast majority of all modern transactions, if only because large purchases are overwhelmingly done with credit or debit.

Things should not be priced in increments of less than 5 cents if you don’t want to have coins of less than 5 cents.

No. You can pay in increments of one cent via credit or debit. The work-around for coins is rounding.

Honestly, why is this so hard for people to understand? Millions of dollars have been spent researching this transition and the conclusion of all those studies is that next to nothing will change, short of saving money by no longer minting pennies.
posted by GuyZero at 3:41 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So people paying with cash will feel "cheated" compared to people paying with credit cards, which leads to unhappy customers. It's an easier solution all around just to round the prices from the start.

No it is not because no one can predict what mix of products consumers will buy and consumers "win" as often as they "lose".
posted by GuyZero at 3:42 PM on February 4, 2013


Customers won't see it that way. Having dealt with front line customers for a lot of years I know people will look for any excuse to complain. This is just handing them one on a silver (or copper) platter.

Sure nobody will say anything if their final tab gets rounded down a penny or two, but the cashiers and tellers and clerks will definitely hear about it when the final bill gets bumped up.
posted by sardonyx at 3:47 PM on February 4, 2013


Except that literally everyone in Australia managed to figure it out. So I have some hope for Canada.
posted by GuyZero at 3:50 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think US resistance to the very thought! gasp! of eradicating the pennies is due to the fact you have to calculate the actual price, with tax, in your head. Everywhere the smaller denominations have been eradicated display prices inclusive of tax, so no drama. You round up or down to the nearest 5c to the price displayed. There's no possible dodginess.
posted by goo at 3:53 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not the point of "figuring it out." People aren't stupid. They can understand something without having to like it. And plenty of the people who still use coins are exactly the type of people who won't like the new system and will have much to say about it every time the store and/or the government screws them over and cheats them.
posted by sardonyx at 3:54 PM on February 4, 2013


If your objection to the change is that there are people who object to everything, that doesn't seem like a very specific objection. If cranks are going to be cranky regardless, then let's kill the penny and save a few million dollars a year. And the cranks keep on crankin'.
posted by GuyZero at 4:01 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've got plastic bills, ditched pennies and started saying "no worries". Soon we'll have beets, pineapple and eggs on our burgers, and ride up front with the cabbie.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:05 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honestly, why is this so hard for people to understand?

Not understanding and thinking it’s stupid are two different things. You seem to be missing this.
posted by bongo_x at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, why is this so hard for people to understand?

I understand it, but it seems silly. I'd mildly prefer to get the actual change I'm due, every time, instead of hoping the rounded values average out, but I'm not going to agitate either way. And the physical items don't bother me as they're never in my pocket for more than a day.

I will note that the utterly inconsequential savings from eliminating the penny, or moving to dollar coins, and so on really do not move me. Even if we had somehow eliminated 99.99999 percent of the US deficit so that penny-ante measures like that would close the remaining gap, we could just pay infinitesimally higher taxes instead and not have to mess with this crap until the penny was unambiguously useless. Which we'd know because there was no longer any demand for them and the last batch had just sat unused in some warehouse for a bit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:30 PM on February 4, 2013


Everywhere the smaller denominations have been eradicated display prices inclusive of tax, so no drama.

Not here! You can display prices including tax -- some restaurants do -- but you aren't required to. It's a real irritant.

It's a well-known cash grab for small stores and restaurants to not change the amount of sales tax charged when tax prices decrease (this has been mitigated by some requirements for registers), keeping the extra 1% on purchases for a while. So it's not out of nowhere that people imagine that there will be chicanery on the part of businesses that will end up screwing over the consumer.
posted by jeather at 4:31 PM on February 4, 2013


This thread is hilarious.

When my parents get back up here from golfing and hanging out with Republicans in North Carolina, I'm tempted to tell my Dad that with this new system you have to go up to the cashier for each individual item, regardless of how full your cart is, and get them to round it up or down for you before you can continue shopping.
WELL, JESUS CHRIST, THAT'S JUST RIDICULOUS.
And also that they are going to have a new nickel with Bob Rae on it.
But I won't because that's mean.
posted by chococat at 4:53 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


We've got plastic bills, ditched pennies and started saying "no worries". Soon we'll have beets, pineapple and eggs on our burgers, and ride up front with the cabbie

Nice, but Canada isn't Australia! We share a lot of similarities, but Australia seems to be enjoying a unique economic boom right now that the rest of the world is not party to. Sadly.
posted by goo at 4:55 PM on February 4, 2013


And it's beetroot, dude. Beets are a yank affectation. Plus your weather is far worse than Australia's... :)
posted by goo at 5:04 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I’ve actually gone back to this a lot lately. Cash is easier than cards and less trackable. That’s why I’m sure it will be going away soon and the move will be sold as being for our convenience and benefit.

and it also means that banks, visa, mastercard, american express, et al will be able to suck their swipe charge and interchange fees out of every transaction instead of not getting their piece of those cash transactions.
posted by jimw at 5:06 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone keeps talking like cash is dead! Cash is RIGHT HERE - SHE'S STANDING RIGHT HERE GUYS. Look - it's cash!

(cash says hi everyone)
posted by GuyZero at 5:09 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


The comments in this thread make me think we need to do a better job training our high school Econ teachers.

Does someone want to get GuyZero a scotch or something?
posted by dry white toast at 5:35 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


People aren't stupid.

This thread is not doing a lot to lend support to your hypothesis.

It looks like a penny between 1850 and 1900 was worth about a quarter in current money, and having to price items in increments that large seems obviously inefficient. Hence, the half-cent coin.

So you're saying that the elimination of the half-cent coin was a terrible burden on American citizens at the time it happened? That people would have been materially better-off if a half-cent coin had been reintroduced in, say, 1950?

Would we be materially better off now if they reintroduced a half-cent coin? There'd be nothing to stop shops pricing materials in fractions of a cent (gas stations already do).
posted by yoink at 5:50 PM on February 4, 2013


Oh, and just for fun here's a bit from one of the most conservative papers in the country.

"An analysis by Jung Ah Kwon and Simon Thang for KPMG said the question of rounding’s effect on final prices is largely academic, but it did find some fuzziness in the numbers.

“In Ontario, for example, if an item is offered for sale at $1.08 and the business rounds to the nearest nickel, the total including HST will be $1.22 before rounding and $1.20 after rounding. After accounting for $0.14 in HST remitted to the government, the vendor will actually keep $1.06 from the sale,” they wrote."
http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/04/canadian-penny-last-days/

Yup, pre-emptive rounding up will definitely be on the table in the near future.
posted by sardonyx at 5:52 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in the grocery store today and there were about 25 people at the registers buying groceries and I did not witness a cacophony of cranky people making objections. This is just anecdotal of course and I would not pretend that my experience is what would happen elsewhere but it does counter the experience of others who have witnessed cranky people going apeshit over this.
posted by juiceCake at 5:57 PM on February 4, 2013


"Only the final total is rounded. Only the final total is rounded. Only the final total is rounded. It doesn't matter how many items you buy. (And only if you pay in cash)."

Sorry whittaker, I didn't realize that at the time. Good news. At least it'll be somewhat less annoying at the till.


"Have you been in suspended animation for the last decade? Do you not buy things? Dollars bills are beyond useless. Candy bars cost more than a dollar these days."

I would never spend more than a dollar for a chocolate bar, unless we're talking some kind of artisanal brand with real cocoa butter. Cheap, mass-produced candy just isn't worth that much.

Lots of purchases are still less than a dollar, or give you dollars back in the change. The main reason I stopped carrying "cash" was because of all the damn coins jingling around in my pocket like pirate booty. I'd be fine with plastic dollars, and if they replaced the Loonie and Toonie tomorrow with bills it would probably be more efficient for everybody. Except maybe the Mint, and their needs trump ours.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:12 PM on February 4, 2013


So you're saying that the elimination of the half-cent coin was a terrible burden on American citizens at the time it happened?

Well, obviously you're right that there are exactly two kinds of government problems: those that are utterly unproblematic and those that impose terrible burdens, with, clearly, no room in between for minor or inconsequential burdens, negligible benefits, or circumstances where the balance between the two isn't clear.

But, no, the elimination of the half-cent would have resulted, at worst, in a slight increase in slight inefficiencies.

That people would have been materially better-off if a half-cent coin had been reintroduced in, say, 1950?

Possibly, in some exceedingly minor way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:24 PM on February 4, 2013


I understand it, but it seems silly. I'd mildly prefer to get the actual change I'm due, every time, instead of hoping the rounded values average out,

If you shop or eat out six times a day (this seems unlikely), 365 days a year (also unlikely) and the scheming merchants or restaurateurs have managed to round things in their favour three times out of four (even less likely) and absolutely every single time it is for the maximum possible amount (pretty unlikely indeed)... you will be down $21.90 a year from now.

I suppose you could get a second job. At minimum wage. And quit after one day. That'll put you ahead until about 2016, I figure.

In other words, I think you have a fairly solid basis for your hopes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:34 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia has a pretty lengthy list of countries that have eliminated their lowest denomination coins in the article on the "penny debate".

I just wish that $1 and higher coins would take off in the U.S. as they have in many other countries. The $2 coin in Australia is the perfect size and weight, in my opinion.
posted by the_grizz at 7:18 PM on February 4, 2013


Yup, pre-emptive rounding up will definitely be on the table in the near future.

The article you link to says the exact opposite of what you say it does.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:21 PM on February 4, 2013


Well, obviously you're right that there are exactly two kinds of government problems: those that are utterly unproblematic and those that impose terrible burdens, with, clearly, no room in between for minor or inconsequential burdens, negligible benefits, or circumstances where the balance between the two isn't clear.

The costs of minting one cent coins are very easily calculated and non negligible. If you want to maintain that it is a bad idea to remove them you have to demonstrate some benefit that outweighs the easily demonstrable costs. So far neither you nor anyone else in this thread has demonstrated a single benefit of any kind whatsoever.
posted by yoink at 7:26 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


What it says is specifically is...

"If businesses were always going to round their prices up, they would likely need legislative authority to do so, but that is not proposed in Canada and seems unlikely. Instead the federal government has said the rounding must be fair and transparent, to the nearest nickel, whether up or down."

That's different than what I said, setting the price of formerly $0.97 items to an even $1.00. That's not rounding, that's pricing, and something I can easily see happening.
posted by sardonyx at 7:30 PM on February 4, 2013


That's different than what I said, setting the price of formerly $0.97 items to an even $1.00. That's not rounding, that's pricing, and something I can easily see happening.

Yes, and that's something that businesses will do, unaffected by the presence or absence of the penny.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:40 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because they price things in pennies? I’m not understanding all the talk of rounding and calculating, etc. Things should not be priced in increments of less than 5 cents if you don’t want to have coins of less than 5 cents.

But prices have been smaller than the smallest increment of coinage for a long time. Back when the GST was 7%, if you bought something for, let's say $10.01 before tax, you technically owed $10.7107 and yet we managed to survive the long dark years of just saying it was $10.71 without issuing a coin worth $0.0007, even though that was the actual smallest increment of price in the land.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:00 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would a business really find it worthwhile to set the price of something at $1 instead of $0.97? That's an extra 5 cents handed over per single unit bought with cash, and that can certainly add up, but what about psychological pricing effects that could reduce demand enough to make the whole venture a wash or even a net loss?

It looks as if retailers in countries which have dumped the penny have chosen prices ending in 98-99 more often than 96-97, but they don't seem to have made a mass jump to round number pricing:
A recent trend in some monetary systems is to eliminate the smallest denomination coin (typically 0.01 of the local currency). The total cost of purchased items is then rounded up/down to, for example, the nearest 0.05. This may have an effect on future "odd-number" pricing to maximize the rounding advantage for vendors by favoring 98 and 99 endings (rounded up) over 96 and 97 ending (rounded down) especially at small retail outlets where single item purchases are more common. Australia is a good example of this practice where 5 cents has been the smallest denomination coin since 1992, but pricing at .98/.99 on items under several hundred dollars is still almost universally applied (e.g.: $1.99 – $299.99) while goods on sale often price at .94 and its variations. It is also the case in Finland, the only country using the euro currency which does not use the 1 and 2 cent coins.
And this recent Toronto Star story summarizes the lure of the price ending in .99, reinforcing that this is still a popular price point in Australia.

On the other hand, just removing the dollar sign from posted prices can make round numbers more attractive, so who knows how retailers will jump?
posted by maudlin at 9:05 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm gathering up pre-1982 US pennies as I can, in preparation for the day we go Weimar and I need the copper for barter. Should be about 18 months from now, if trends hold.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:13 PM on February 4, 2013


There's a whole lot of breathless pearl-clutching going on here.
posted by nonspecialist at 12:57 AM on February 5, 2013


That means the purchasing power of a dollar today is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of a dime in 1950. Why in the world does the US still use dollar bills?! In 1950-speak, you guys are stuffing your wallets with dime bills.

Yeah. This is why we have problems overseas. We're used to paying with bills and dumping the change (which isn't worth much) into our pockets. This is quite a problem in the UK, where you find you've got 20-30 pounds in coins in your pocket -- about $50 USD.

And, for some reason, we have this fetish about the dollar bill, so we're never actually going to use the dollar coins we keep minting because, well...I'm not that sure why. But we're not going to. So...

I still maintain there is a simple fix that would allow us to keep the penny as a useful coin, and make the dollar bill rational. Simply devalue the US Dollar by dropping a zero, so that the new cent is worth a current dime, the new dime is worth a current dollar, a quarter buys you a cheap beer, and a dollar has the same worth as a current $10.

For some reason this annoys people. I think it's brilliant. They'd probably stop printing $50 and $100 dollar bills, but you know, I'm OK with that -- we'll have the same in the new $5 and $10 bills, and the $20 will become the bill that's hard to spend.
posted by eriko at 2:41 AM on February 5, 2013


eriko, then how to manage all of the bills currently in print, in people's possession? What of the cost of minting all new bills to replace every bill currently in circulation? How can that possibly be cost-effective, just to save the penny?
posted by Evstar at 4:39 AM on February 5, 2013


Half of this thread reminds me of farmers complaining that daylight saving confuses the cows.
posted by rory at 4:40 AM on February 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


And, for some reason, we have this fetish about the dollar bill, so we're never actually going to use the dollar coins we keep minting because, well...I'm not that sure why.

Because you keep printing dollar bills as well, and humans are irrationally scared of anything ever changing (see above) so there is no particular incentive to change. Dollar coins arrived in Canada over 25 years ago, and we got rid of dollar bills at the same time. Every Canadian is required by law to have a cranky uncle who is still muttering about the newfangled loonies, but in general there is no difficulty. With the arrival of two-dollar coins a decade later, there is the odd effect of pocket change now adding up to more than is intuitive. More than once over the years I have figured that I would have to hit a bank machine before I got lunch as I was down to nickels and dimes in my pockets, but a quick survey of the pocket change revealed I had forty bucks on me. Score!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:02 AM on February 5, 2013


There's a whole lot of breathless pearl-clutching going on here.

Am I the only one who finds this metaphor a wee bit misogynistic?
posted by grouse at 6:57 AM on February 5, 2013


Am I the only one who finds this metaphor a wee bit misogynistic?

I hereby propose monocle dropping as an alternative.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


A dude can't clutch his pearls? I'm clutching mine now.
posted by MOWOG at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because you keep printing dollar bills as well, and humans are irrationally scared of anything ever changing (see above) so there is no particular incentive to change.

If they ever threaten to take away the dollar bill, I'm writing my congressperson to protest. The last thing I want is a pocket of heavy dollar coins, bills are just so much more convenient and easy to carry. Why would I want to switch from something that weighs almost nothing to something that weighs more than a quarter? That seems like a step backward, I'd rather have 25 cent bills than dollar coins.
posted by octothorpe at 10:09 AM on February 5, 2013


More than once over the years I have figured that I would have to hit a bank machine before I got lunch as I was down to nickels and dimes in my pockets, but a quick survey of the pocket change revealed I had forty bucks on me.

As an old-school D&D player, the appeal of a small leather pouch full of gold & silver coins with which I can buy food and entertainment with is... kind of appealing.

And on a strong cash-gig night, I can easily take home more than $100 in tips. But do I want to be carrying a fat, jingly pouch of coin like Eric Stoltz in Rob Roy?

And while I have been known to shake mas ass as well as cocktails for the customers, I generally have a tip cup/bucket, which would make a neat clang. But no one is trying to slip a dollar coin into my g-string. How have Canadian exotic dancers handled the loss of the paper dollar?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2013


How have Canadian exotic dancers handled the loss of the paper dollar?

Fives and twenties I guess. Maybe the inflation cranks are right after all!
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"How have Canadian exotic dancers handled the loss of the paper dollar?"

It was... a painful transition.

On the subject of leather pouches: if you go to a department or grocery store here, you'll see most people paying with debit or credit card. Some people use cash, but they seldom have exact change. Everything is fast, fast, fast these days, and you can feel the annoyance rise like a cloud from people in the line when some older person takes the time to count out every penny. Convenience or death!
posted by Kevin Street at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2013


I am in between panic calls from clients. I cannot believe I Googled this, but librarian instincts die hard ...

Loonie tossing seems to be just an Alberta thing that the dancers accept because they can't sell lap dances.
The professional strippers there go through the most degrading ritual I’ve ever seen, however. This event is known as the Looney [sic] toss. There are no lap dances in Calgary, only stage shows. Strippers must hustle as much cash onstage as possible. Since strippers must remain three feet away from customers, the hustle is less intimate and more … strange.

For those unfamiliar with Canadian currency, a Looney is a golden Canadian dollar coin. During the Looney toss, Canadian strippers get completely naked and stick a single Looney to their skin with moisture (saliva), typically on an interesting spot like on a boob, or a butt cheek or near the vagina. Customers must then toss Loonies at that stationary Looney to try and knock it off the stripper. People are flinging metal objects at these strippers who are working way too hard, in my opinion. Afterwards, strippers take a magnet and pick up all the Loonies and then get off the stage, at which point I was able to talk to them.

I expressed my confusion about this ritual. I wanted to know why they wouldn’t go somewhere where they could give lap dances and make better, faster money. They admitted the Looney toss was pretty sh*tty. One girl told me that her friend had a permanent scar from the Looney toss after a customer heated up one of the coins with a lighter before tossing it on her skin. They still believe that I was the one working too hard, putting up with grab-assing lap dance patrons. To each her own. I’m glad to be home.
This Toronto dancer says that loonie tossing is NOT encouraged. Toronto dancers can sell lap dances and other private dances and rarely seek or get tips for stage dances.
Tipping a dancer on stage is not very typical for Toronto. Tipping was commonplace when $2 dollar bills were still in circulation, and has nearly ceased since then. Clubs that are located close to the US border and clubs that get a lot of American clients still see a lot of $1 bills in tips. Stage tipping with $5 and $20 bills is not very common, but does happen sometimes. Personally, although I’ve been tipped with $20s (and even $50s) on stage, Niagara Falls was the only place where I made consistent money in stage tips.

Once in a while, a well meaning (or an ill meaning) customer can throw a loonie or a twonie on stage. Stepping on a coin during a show can cause a dancer to slip, fall and injure herself, while having it thrown at her will leave a nasty bruise. So it’s a good idea to scan the stage floor for any change and keep an eye out for it during the show.

Most dancers make their living by selling most these types of private dances. Feature stage performers that were popular years ago are now rare in Toronto, so striptease has become less of a stage performance and more of a private one-on-one deal. Today, a stage show is primarily a way to promote yourself to your potential customers in order to sell private dances to them later, so while it’s a good idea to have a sexy stage performance, most of the dancer’s efforts should be directed toward individual dances.
posted by maudlin at 11:45 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


maudlin: I believe strip club rules are determined by municipality--I was in an Edmonton strip club for a friend's ill-advised bachelor party and lap dances are most definitely solicited and given.

I didn't notice anything like having a loonie stuck to the body, but the degrading ritual here in e-town is for strippers to roll a promotional poster of themselves into a funnel and people will try to toss their loonies and toonies into said funnel.

It feels unbelievably cheap that none of the rig pigs will cough up a fiver, but then again the place charged 14 dollars for a jagerbomb, so...
posted by whittaker at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2013


If they ever threaten to take away the dollar bill, I'm writing my congressperson to protest. The last thing I want is a pocket of heavy dollar coins, bills are just so much more convenient and easy to carry.

Well, the easy fix there is to redesign the dollar coin so that it's slender and light. The failure of previous versions of the dollar coin is your friend there, there's not a lot out there in the way of vending-machines that would need to be retooled. A dollar today has about the purchasing power of a dime in 1950; there's no reason that the coin needs to be some giant wallet-busting cartwheel of a thing. Oh, and issue a two-dollar coin as well, also small and light--that way you cut down on the number of coins overall.

Heck, if you were cancelling the penny and the nickel you could make the new dollar coin the size (but not the weight or color) of a nickel and the two-dollar coin have the size (but not weight or color) of the penny. Weight problem solved, and the US already has no logical connection between the size of its coins and their value, so that wouldn't matter.
posted by yoink at 12:47 PM on February 5, 2013


I find the handwringing my fellow Americans do over a DOLLAR COIN hi-larious. It really isn't that big of a deal. If I have too many loonies or toonies, guess what? I can exchange them for a fiver or a ten. They're not that heavy and at least I know how many ones I have on me instead of having to riffle and guess in the wallet fold of bills that all look the same.

Living in Canada has fully converted me to the loonie/toonie camp. I get more annoyed when I go home and am handed a bunch of grubby paper bills when I purchase things. (Also, loonies/toonies are very very very handy for parking meters.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fives and twenties I guess.

People just throw $1 and $2 coins on to the stage.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Living in Canada has fully converted me to the loonie/toonie camp.

Being there for a few months didn’t convert me. I didn’t hate them, but they were kind of annoying and much prefer bills. But I did hate the names "loonie" and "toonie" and would just stare at people and ask if what they meant was "a dollar".
posted by bongo_x at 2:07 PM on February 5, 2013


I find the handwringing my fellow Americans do over a DOLLAR COIN hi-larious.

One big difference in the US is that they have neither a [functional] $2 note nor coin. Add in the fact that cashiers seem to run out of fives all the time, and it won't take very many cash transactions before a busy shopper accumulates tens and tens of $1 bills.

After working there for a while I started using a money clip just for my change; personally I use wallets only for bills $20 and higher, and the rest is pocket money. $15 worth of loose loonie/toonie coins are quite manageable and you can even count them by touch. Having a pocket full of wadded up singles doesn't work nearly as well.

Consider poker players. Stacks of coins are so much easier to manipulate than stacks of unbundled bills; perfect for commonly exchanged amounts.

And on a strong cash-gig night, I can easily take home more than $100 in tips. But do I want to be carrying a fat, jingly pouch of coin like Eric Stoltz in Rob Roy?

Once you start using dollar and bi-dollar coins, the value adds up surprisingly quickly. With twenty five coins per roll, it only takes two rolls of toonies to total $100. Together they would weigh 3/4 of a pound, though.

/loves FX and currency threads
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:14 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're not that heavy and at least I know how many ones I have on me instead of having to riffle and guess in the wallet fold of bills that all look the same.

It's easy to tell the out of towners ordering a drink in a dark dancehall, because the uniform size & color throws them off. I've gotten more than a few $10 tips dropped into the bucket that way.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:16 PM on February 5, 2013


But I did hate the names "loonie" and "toonie" and would just stare at people and ask if what they meant was "a dollar".

"Doubloon" was the other leading contender when the toonie two dollar coin was first introduced. Canada's coast guard was busy commandeering Spanish fishing trawlers at the time, so it seemed like the logical choice.
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:36 PM on February 5, 2013


Do American paper bills have any colour (color) yet?
posted by juiceCake at 3:28 PM on February 5, 2013


But I did hate the names "loonie" and "toonie" and would just stare at people and ask if what they meant was "a dollar".

To which they presumably answered no, because the names actually are loonie and toonie, even if visitors don't like them. (I was all for doubloonie.)

I don't usually end up with stacks and stacks of loonies or toonies -- I use them to pay for small purchases, and it's much easier to fish for one than a bill. I don't mind having dollar bills when I'm in the US, though it does take a bit of rethinking to remember you have dollar bills but nothing for two, I just find the "lots of nearly identical bills without even markings so you can feel on a newish one what the denomination is" really really weird.
posted by jeather at 3:38 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do American paper bills have any colour (color) yet?

They're now slightly different shades of green (that are still close enough to be indistinguishable in poor lighting - you need, say, light bright enough to read by in order to tell the difference), along with a big purple 5 on the fiver.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:52 PM on February 5, 2013


It's the universe telling you to just pay for the little old lady's coffee.

Yeah, I tried that once at a drug store, for a woman who was digging through a tiny little purse slowly unfolding every little thing to find exact money and a large number of coupons for a few items. I do not recommend trying this once, no matter how polite you think you are being.
posted by davejay at 4:01 PM on February 5, 2013


But I did hate the names "loonie" and "toonie" and would just stare at people and ask if what they meant was "a dollar".

Oh, you're one of those Americans. :)

I just find the "lots of nearly identical bills without even markings so you can feel on a newish one what the denomination is" really really weird.

It is! My husband says that when he opens up his wallet, one glance can tell me what he's got because everything is a different dang color. When we go to the States, he's like, "Oh great, a bunch of useless $1 bills."

They're in the process of updating machines that take cash b/c of the new bills here; if Canada can do it, so can the US to accept one/two dollar coins.
posted by Kitteh at 5:09 PM on February 5, 2013


You know, we have 2 dollar bills and dollar coins in the states. No one likes them. I never understood the 2 dollar bill.
posted by bongo_x at 7:10 PM on February 5, 2013


I never understood the 2 dollar bill.

A two dollar unit is AWESOME. If someone gives me 9 dollars change from a 10 dollar bill, a five and a couple of twos, or a five, a two, and two ones, are much easier to deal with than a five and four ones, or, worse yet, NINE goddamn dollar bills. And if the denominations are all coloured differently, it really does help keep your wallet well-organized.

OTOH, the new polymer bills can go jump in a lake. They won't sink, and they'll probably kill a few innocent loons, but man, I hate the feel, they're hard to count, and they don't fold properly. And no, the 50 doesn't smell like maple syrup, but even if it did, it wouldn't make up for it.
posted by maudlin at 7:25 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understood the 2 dollar bill.

It's worth two dollars. What more is there to understand?
posted by yoink at 10:37 PM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know, we have 2 dollar bills and dollar coins in the states. No one likes them. I never understood the 2 dollar bill.

Yes, you're right we do, but we treat them like novelties and collectors items than actual currency.
posted by Kitteh at 5:03 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having a $2 coin in circulation seems to prevent having a huge stack of ones, which I magically accumulate every time I cross the boarder.

It's also nice to be able to pay for a coffee with a single coin.
posted by bonehead at 2:07 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey writes "And on a strong cash-gig night, I can easily take home more than $100 in tips. But do I want to be carrying a fat, jingly pouch of coin like Eric Stoltz in Rob Roy?"

Surely whomever is in charge of cash in your establishment would be willing to make change for you such that you'd never need carry more than two $1 or $2 coins.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 AM on February 7, 2013


Surely whomever is in charge of cash in your establishment would be willing to make change for you such that you'd never need carry more than two $1 or $2 coins.

I'm a caterer and a beer-carny, so every night is a new location to set up, work, and take down. Don't have an "establishment" as such. When it's a cash-gig generally the tips and till are generally kept very separate.

By the time we've packed up the product and tools into the truck and the tips are divvied up, the tills are locked in bank bags w/their paperwork and out of the building already.

Thinking about it, the company will need dollar coins for change, so the cash handlers would have to get used to heavy rolls of coin in their bags.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:57 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the UK, there are no £1 notes. It is all coins. And there's a £2 coin which is very popular and very much in use. The smallest bill is a £5 note.

I'll often dig out my change and realize I have £10-15 in coins. Thats up to $24 stateside.
So the arguments that coins are impractical just don't wash. It is amazing what people can get used to and this is far from being anything in that category.
posted by vacapinta at 9:27 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, snatching a thumb-flipped gold coin out of the air as a tip has a certain...

*PAUSES TO THINK*

No. No matter what I think of my own hand-eye coordination (to say nothing of my co-workers, and even less about the inebriated thumb-owner), I'm just seeing FAR too many ways for that to go ALL wrong, and they involve crashing sounds and bruises.

Both of those slow down sales.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:37 AM on February 7, 2013


Loonie tossing seems to be just an Alberta thing that the dancers accept because they can't sell lap dances.

Yeah, this whole "Loonie toss" thing sounded very contrived to me, so I contacted an old friend of mine in Canada who actually used to be a very successful stripper several years ago. (And before anybody tells me that stripping is degrading to women, she's bisexual and she enjoyed it because it gave her the chance to meet attractive women.) Anyway, here is the relevant excerpt of her response:

So to answer some of your questions specifically...

Re: stage show only/ no private dances/ 3 ft rule - some dancers prefer this, some don't. In some provinces private/lap dances are allowed. New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, BC come to mind. In others, they are not. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Alberta for instance.

Re: loonies - I have seen many a stage performer do a variety of things with loonies/coins. I myself used to set up little targets of my posters, key chains, assorted swag, etc. and have people play coin toss to win them; keeping what they hit. It's up to the girl what they want to do on stage and is certainly not dictated by any form of regulating body, club or otherwise.

Lady needed to do a bit more research before writing such an article. Can't believe everything you read online.

posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:21 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a number of friends and relations who were working in bars and restaurants during the $1 and $2 transitions to coins. In both cases, anecdotally, many found their tips went up. Psychologically, it seems easier to get bigger tips with coins ("low value") than with bills ("high value").
posted by bonehead at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2013


wolfdreams01, did you point your friend at my original link, or did you rephrase? We all seem to agree that loonies (and toonies) can be tossed onstage as part of a game. But it seems that while experienced dancers know better than to let the coins be tossed at them, it still seems to happen, to the point the stripper forums have to repeatedly warn rookies about it and tell them that they don't have to go along with the dirtier and more dangerous version of the game.

In this thread in a Canadian dancers' forum discussing the loonie toss, an experienced dancer warns: "I choose not to stick loonies to my body, but if a guy gets one to stick to you then it is fair for him or the next guy to try to nock it off."

Another thread for strippers new to Alberta that also describes the toonie toss. Read it for yourself: a couple of women mention they have been sticking coins to their bodies, while others warn them off about it in the strongest possible terms.

These posts are from 2009. Maybe Alberta dancers these days have, en masse, refused to accept direct coin throws any more. I hope so.
posted by maudlin at 12:11 PM on February 8, 2013


I pointed her directly to the link, without mentioning the metafilter post at all. Her response was based solely on the article.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2013


wolfdreams01: I think your friend might be perceiving that the rules are entirely regulated by provincial jurisdiction when, in fact, it seems independent municipalities actually set a lot of the rules.

As I mentioned previously: Edmonton, Alberta definitely allows personal dances. (And the municipal government regulates and licences escorts, escort agencies, and erotically-oriented "body rub parlours" as I found out while waiting on a criminal background check for a client and reading the literature in the police station. Apparently it was a half-hearted experiment to reduce street-level prostitution here.)

Sorry for the OT.
posted by whittaker at 9:28 AM on February 9, 2013


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