Cashiers Refuse To Let Broke Woman Buy Groceries With Loose Change

woman coins not acceptedWhen you are making a sizable purchase and only have coins in your wallet, it can be irritating for the cashier. But how does that irritation compare to the tears of a woman struggling to feed her family?

A Portland woman recently scraped together $32 in quarters to buy groceries at the local Save-a-Lot. "We had nothing to feed our children with," she told KATU News. "So we broke out change."

She waited for the check-out to clear, and apologized to the cashier for the 124 coins she had in her hands. "Sorry, it's hard times right now," she told him.

Save-a-Lot can only accept $5 of change, the clerk informed her.

"Money's money," she said. He refused. "I was mortified. Mortified."

The woman then went to the one-stop shop Fred Meyer, but the store manager insisted that she use the change machine to convert her coin to paper. The woman could not afford, however, the 10 percent cut that the machine would take.

She started to cry.

Spokesmen from both Save-a-Lot and Fred Meyer have publicly apologized for the incident, and emphasized that they do in fact accept change as payment, and have no cash maximum.

Private businesses, in fact, are not legally required to accept coins as payment. It's not uncommon, however, for stores to set their own rules when it comes to purchases, even in violation of the law. Before the Wall Street reform law of 2010, it was illegal for businesses to the have credit card minimums. But stores frequently required customers to spend at least $5 or $10 when using a card.

Clearly, stores appear inconsistent on their cash policies. When KATU News called up numerous grocery stores and asked their store managers if loose change was accepted without a limit, they all said yes. When the reporters called back as customers, however, almost all the stores, including QFC and Safeway, had slightly different answers.

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Our currency displays the phrase "legal tender for all debts public and private" which, although it doesn't appear on our coins, common sense should tell any clerk and/or cashier that it would apply to all USA money, both paper and metal.

November 05 2011 at 2:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I would have paid for her groceries, $32 is not alot of money except when you don't have but $32. Compassion, she was NOT asking for a handout, she was trying to spend United States Currency, the store was in the wrong ethically, morally, and should be considered wrong legally....United States Paper Money as well as Coins are legal tender and should never be denied, period.

November 05 2011 at 12:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Not that anyone should ever be turned away w/ change at a grocery store, but I have used a bag full of change at the self checkout machines. They don't judge you and they don't take a cut like the change machines do. Recommended, if you ever find yourself in that situation.

November 05 2011 at 12:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

That store should give the woman a free shopping spree.

November 04 2011 at 4:35 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

If I were in line behind her I would have paid for her groceries myself. Where is the compassion in this world. I have been in her situation at various times in my life and people helped me.

November 04 2011 at 1:24 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Scott Kozlowski

"Private businesses, in fact, are not legally required to accept coins as payment."

A lot of you people protesting about this that loudly are the same people who would stand in line behind this woman and get angry that she didn't use 'the machine' or roll her change or exchange it at the bank. Then you would get up to the cashier and throw a fit that you had to be inconvenienced in your daily lives because you had to stand in line with your candy bar while the cashier counted all that change...

You're also the same people who would walk up to an express checkout with signs everywhere saying 15 items or less with two shopping carts loaded down and claim you 'never saw the sign.'

Lets see how you react when someone ahead of you in a line somewhere dumps a pocket book full of change on the counter...

November 04 2011 at 12:12 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

This reality people...wake up compassion, caring and thought ABOUT OTHERS>...Its a sad world we live in when you cannot see OUTSIDE YOUR OWN WORLD to care about another ...WHo cares if they are related or friends of yours..THEY are HUMAN and show some Effort to care about a stranger for that MAY BE U OR YOUR LOVED ONES SOMEDAY<,,,CAsh is CASH ... BAD KARMA FOR FEED MEYER!!! BOOO ON YOU!

November 04 2011 at 12:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

"The woman could not afford, however, the 10 percent cut the machine would take."

What? Really? You couldn't afford $3.20 out of $32? You could still very easily afford food for at least a week with even $20, much less $28. You could probably stretch that out to last 2 weeks. Why the heck are you saving quarters, anyways? Go to a bank and get them exchanged instead of sitting there crying. This isn't A Christmas Carol and she isn't Bob Cratchit. You should learn to better manage your money!

November 04 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sirken04's comment

You are an idiot.
Three dollars and twenty cents is a lot when you only have thirty two dollars, and exactly why should she give up ANY of her money when she shouldn't have to.
What she used was legal tender in the US of A and it should not be a problem for any store to accept.
Dumbass don't you know that the bank doesn't take your 'change' if you don't have an account?

Ok, here's my wish for you: I wish that you lose everything you have -- including your job, and all your savings -- all of it, and since you don't have any quarters saved up, you won't be able to find any, and then perhaps we will all ask you why you didn't 'manage your money better' when you are destitute. Sometimes morons and simple minded people like you have to experience it to have compassion.
I will be counting the days until it's your time to suffer, and believe me, it will happen. I will pray for it.

November 04 2011 at 11:38 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ally's comment

First of all, before you embarass yourself any further, how do you know she has never opened a bank account anywhere. She is obviously broke and not at all ambitious living in a big city that she can't even afford the cost of living. I already have very little and make my own well enough. If she's SO bad off then why doesn't she do what the rest of America does and ride off the coattails of others through wellfare and EBT.

This is a story not worth covering. Some woman who is over her head decides that she has to pay in quarters and is denied. SO WHAT.

But here's my wish for you, Ally, since we're exchanging fancies now: KILL YOURSELF!

November 04 2011 at 5:11 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down

$3.20 is a loaf of bread .... a gallon of milk!! with a family of children - that's a very real, NECESSARY item!!

by the sounds of it, if she's digging up change ... that wasn't for a week of groceries ... that was for as long as they could stretch it groceries. If you have extra money to just give 10% of it away ... good for you. budgeting should never have to include 'waste', which in times of need -- a machine that counts coins for a percentage.

November 04 2011 at 11:44 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

I can only say that if this women needs help I would love her to give me a call at 813-634-7136. The good Samaritan Academy would send her food. Life is to short and God is to good to his children. And so for the Good Samaritan Academy we are so sorry you had to go through this. And all my children say GIVE US A CALL AND WE WILL GIVE YOU FOOD.....THANKS

November 04 2011 at 7:37 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

This lady even waited for the line to clear... and then she had her basket tallied up and then paid with change... i know alot of people are in a rush always these days ... and it breaks my heart to hear of something like this happening ... and i have read the comments below and i tell ya i agree with alot of them.. maybe yes the cashier couldnt count (leave it to no child left behind) maybe it was toward the end of their shift and they were ready to go home (gracious forbid they miss beavis and butt head) maybe their cash drawer couldnt hold that excessive amount of change (thats why there are csm's and managers!!) but i have worked in retail and you know that change is what kept my paycheck coming to me.. that change and the lady/man spending it was what kept my children fed... and im still not over the humiliation the cashier caused this woman... that has put a new light on where i will be shopping from now on ...

November 04 2011 at 7:06 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

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