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Friday Funnies: NY State Senator Drafts Bill to Force Stores to Acccept All Currency

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Friday Funnies: NY State Senator Drafts Bill to Force Stores to Acccept All Currency

Old 05-04-07, 01:51 PM
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Friday Funnies: NY State Senator Drafts Bill to Force Stores to Acccept All Currency

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/04/ny...l?ref=nyregion

When Pennies Fail to Pay the Bill, a Bronx Man Pushes for Change

By MANNY FERNANDEZ
Published: May 4, 2007

Every penny counts. But 10 of them didn’t one recent night in the Bronx, and that’s how the trouble started.

It was about 11:30 p.m. on April 23 when Wayne Jones stopped at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in the Soundview section. Mr. Jones, 47, a lieutenant with the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service, ordered four fried chicken wings to go. The total was $2.75.

Mr. Jones placed his money on the counter: two $1 bills, two quarters, one dime, one nickel — and 10 pennies.

“The lady behind the counter started yelling, ‘No pennies, no pennies,’ ” Mr. Jones said. The woman told him she would take 3 or 4 pennies, he said, but not 10.

Mr. Jones asked her why, but said he got no answer. An argument ensued, and Mr. Jones said he was asked to leave, with his $2.75 but without his chicken wings. He was outraged.
He told his wife and two daughters to never order from Great Wall again. Then he sent e-mail messages to a number of elected officials.

He said that he believed the restaurant considered counting change a nuisance, and that this attitude discouraged poor and homeless people from buying meals there.

The tale of the 10 pennies unfolded yesterday in a sort of sidewalk circus. It was a melodrama of pocket-change proportions, part political stagecraft, part whodunit and, perhaps, part slow news day.

Reporters descended upon the cramped, seatless lobby of Great Wall as customers elbowed their way inside to order food. A Bronx lawmaker stood outside alongside Mr. Jones, vowing to take up the issue in Albany. And the worker Mr. Jones said had refused his pennies, Juan Lin, denied the allegations, saying that she did indeed accept them and displaying, as proof, a clear plastic container filled with pennies — customers’ pennies, she said.

As reporters pestered her with questions and a crowd, including a number of ministers, gathered on the sidewalk, Ms. Lin came out from behind the counter, breaking down in tears as she stood beneath menu pictures of beef and broccoli and fish sticks. She shook the small cup of pennies, went back behind the counter and took more lunchtime orders. The day’s special was a chicken sandwich, for $2.50.

Rubén Díaz Sr., a state senator whose district includes the restaurant on Watson Avenue, called the news conference outside Great Wall. His staff members handed out a draft of a bill Mr. Díaz plans to introduce in the Senate, requiring retail establishments to accept all forms and denominations of legal tender, with violations punishable by a fine of up to $500 or 30 days in jail, or both.

“We are a poor community,” Mr. Díaz said. “And we are in America. This is America. If you want to do business in America, you have to accept all American currency.”


As Mr. Jones put it: “This is a diverse community. They pay in diverse ways.”

Outside the restaurant, the block was abuzz with talk of spare change and spare ribs. Mr. Díaz referred to the treatment of Mr. Jones that night as “a kind of discrimination,” and at least one of the ministers who showed up at the restaurant in support of Mr. Jones spoke of getting the city to shut the restaurant down.

One customer, Bernadine Priester, 44, said Great Wall had once refused her pennies, too. “They look at you funny when you go in there with pennies,” she said.

Yesterday, she had no problem with the service. She placed her order with Ms. Lin, paid with a $5 bill and walked out with her lunch.

Mr. Jones spent more than an hour on Watson Avenue, explaining to reporters how this happened. He is a preacher and community liaison at the nearby Mount Zion C.M.E. Church, and he lives with his family, who had been regular Great Wall customers, in an apartment less than a block from the restaurant.

That night, he said, he had a lot of change in his pocket that he was eager to get rid of. “I could have very easily pulled out another form of currency and paid her in it,” he said. “But it was the principle of the thing. I could’ve been anyone. I could’ve been somebody off the street who had no other means of currency.”

After most of the reporters and Mr. Díaz had left, Mr. Jones went inside Great Wall and spoke briefly with Ms. Lin. “She did apologize,” Mr. Jones said later. “We shook hands. And then I placed an order.”

He asked for four chicken wings. He paid the $2.75 with two $1 bills, two quarters, one dime, one nickel — and 10 pennies.
How does this affect the propety rights of businesses?
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Old 05-04-07, 01:55 PM
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This is apparently one of those pressing issues where political capital must be diverted from the issue of naturalized citizens running for President.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:42 PM
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Isn't this just the reverse of places that say 'We don't except bills larger than 20'

a private business can do whatever they want in terms of the money they except. As I mentioned above, plus there are places that ask for exact change...I don't have a problem with a place asking no change be used at all, its up to them.
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Old 05-04-07, 03:12 PM
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I thought this was already the reason it was called "legal tender" in the first place and that it was required to be accepted. According to wikipedia I was wrong though, which makes sense with the story above:
In some jurisdictions legal tender can be refused as payment if no debt exists prior to the time of payment (for example, where the obligation to pay arises substantially contemporaneously with the offer of payment). Consequently vending machines and transport staff do not have to accept the largest denomination of banknote for a single bus fare or bar of chocolate, and even shopkeepers can reject large banknotes — this is covered by the legal concept known as invitation to treat. However, restaurants that do not collect money until after a meal is served would have to accept that legal tender for payment of the debt incurred in purchasing the meal.

The right, in many jurisdictions, of a trader to refuse to do business with any person means a purchaser cannot demand to make a purchase, and so declaring a legal tender other than for debts would not be effective.
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Old 05-04-07, 03:14 PM
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*phew* From the thread title, I expected the bill draft to be about accepting all forms of foreign currency.
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Old 05-04-07, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Mordred
I thought this was already the reason it was called "legal tender" in the first place and that it was required to be accepted. According to wikipedia I was wrong though, which makes sense with the story above:
That's a common misconception. "Legal tender" just mean that it can be used in payment of a debt, not that it's required to be accepted.
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Old 05-04-07, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MartinBlank
*phew* From the thread title, I expected the bill draft to be about accepting all forms of foreign currency.
Depending upon how they word the bill they may up in that situation
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Old 05-04-07, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
That's a common misconception. "Legal tender" just mean that it can be used in payment of a debt, not that it's required to be accepted.
No, it means it must be accepted as payment of a debt. However, as I posted above for clarification, it is not required to be accepted if the debt is incurred at the time of payment, primarily because the debt can be refused by the debtee (store owner) by refusing service. Once a service has been rendered (i.e. food delivered and eaten at a restaurant) then they must accept all legal tender.

In the above case the guy wanted to purchase food and pay with pennies. The owner refused him service and did not give him any food as was her right, even though he wanted to pay with legal tender. There was no debt so no obligation to accept the change.
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Old 05-04-07, 03:56 PM
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This will be a moot problem in the future, when we'll be using pesos anyways.
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Old 05-04-07, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Mordred
No, it means it must be accepted as payment of a debt. However, as I posted above for clarification, it is not required to be accepted if the debt is incurred at the time of payment, primarily because the debt can be refused by the debtee (store owner) by refusing service. Once a service has been rendered (i.e. food delivered and eaten at a restaurant) then they must accept all legal tender.

In the above case the guy wanted to purchase food and pay with pennies. The owner refused him service and did not give him any food as was her right, even though he wanted to pay with legal tender. There was no debt so no obligation to accept the change.
Not true.

http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq...ender.shtml#q1

Question: I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn't this illegal?

Answer: The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.
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Old 05-04-07, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
This will be a moot problem in the future, when we'll be using pesos anyways.
More like yuans!!

You'll see

I'm already close to swearing allegince to our new Red Chinese Masters
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Old 05-04-07, 04:52 PM
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I'm suddenly reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer goes to the Calzone place with his pockets bursting with change.
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