Canada to stop issuing pennies, businesses told to round off to nearest 5 cents, or "work it out for themselves"

The Canadian Tory government has announced that it's discontinuing the minting of new pennies, as the coins are expensive and considered a "nuisance" by businesses and their customers. As Steven Chase writes in the Globe and Mail:

“It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Commons, adding the move will save taxpayers $11-million annually.

...The increasing scarcity of pennies means Canadians will have to get used to cash transactions being rounded off if they’ve got no pennies on hand.

Ottawa is suggesting businesses round off cash transactions to the nearest five-cent increment but says it’s leaving this to businesses to work out for themselves.

When I was (briefly) at the University of Waterloo, the Engineering faculty's cafeteria had an option to dispense with change altogether: when your bill was added up, you could opt to gamble on rounding, with the direction -- up or down -- dependent on your change. In other words, if you had $3.83 owing to you, you'd have an 83% chance of getting $4 back, and a 17% chance of getting $3 back.

The federal budget’s one-cent solution (via Consumerist)

(Image: CANADA, GEORGE V 1920 ---FIRST ISSUE, SMALL ONE CENT a, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from woodysworld1778's photostream)



    1. If they did it wouldn’t be “rounding” it would be truncating.

      This isn’t difficult, and in the end it makes no difference.  There may be some businesses that engineer their pricing structure so that totals tend to be rounded up, but it’s probably just not worth it.

      The NICKEL is worth less now than the half-penny was when the US discontinued that.  IMO we should dump nickels as well.

  1. New Zealand  got rid of their 1 and 2 cent coins in 1990, and so every supermarket checkout ever since has had an explanation of Swedish Rounding (1,2,6,7 go down, others up). In 2006 they even got rid of the 5c coin, and the government advice is to round 5c down.
    However, I have heard exceptions to do with very cheap items like a single mushroom: apparently a guy in Australia ran huge scams by buying mushrooms and the like one at a time and letting the machines round down, so now nothing will round down to zero cents (i.e. free). Could be wrong though.

    1. You mean 1-4 down, 6-9 up, figure 5 out for yourself? Do the Swedes do something different?

      Wiley Swedes.

      1. No, remember you’re rounding to 5 not 10.  So 11 or 12 cents would go to 10; 16 and 17 would go to 15. Others would of course go up.

      2. Sorry, that was badly written. The smallest denomination in Sweden and Australia (and NZ from 1990 to 2006) is a 5 cent coin, so that system is known as Swedish Rounding.
        When NZ got rid of the 5c coin, retailers had to decide whether the 5c went up or down (the rest is fairly self explanatory). Most go down.

        1. Most people in NZ just use eftpos, and that still accepts 1c amounts. And, of course, there are very few prices now that aren,t in round 10c amounts anyway.

          1. Paying with eftpos when I would be rounded up and with cash any time I get rounded down makes me feel a bit August Gorman even if it’s literally only a few cents.

      3. They round to the nearest 5, so 1 and 2 round to zero, 3 and 4 round up to 5, 6 and 7 round down to 5, 8 and 9 round up to zero.

    2. Still hoping Australia will get rid of the 5c coin.

      Although I cashed mine in recently and got a sizeable amount of cash. But that was after years of putting them in a jar.

      And since most people do use EFTPOS these days, with no minimum limit, it really wouldn’t matter. 

  2. The nickel is our new penny. This move by the government is also a comment on the purchasing power of our currency. I haven’t seen anything being sold for less than a nickel in …. I can’t remember. In fact, can we buy anything now for only a nickel?

      1. Postage stamps? Those are something like 57 cents. … whups, just checked, 61 cents.

        I’ve also realized that this killing of the penny has collateral damage. The penny-loafer. And there’ll be no more penny pinching. And no more buying of cheap thoughts, either. I know mine aren’t worth a nickel.

        Oh, and its going to effect all those kids out there. They’ll never know what “A penny saved is a penny earned” means.

        1.  The cost to mail a letter is 61 cents and while that may be the most common stamp you can certainly buy stamps of a variety of denominations. 

        2. You can buy 1 cent stamps. And 2 cent and 5 cent. Depends on what you need to mail and what kind of old stamps you have kicking around. I have all sorts of old stamps and I’m just now combining them for the few actual mailings I still need to do, so I don’t actually have to buy new stamps.

        3. You can still buy penny candy in my home town. The general store takes a hit by doing it, but it’s for the kids who are willing to count out the number of pieces they’re buying. If you pay by the pound, it’s much more expensive.

    1. I’ve touched cash once in the last decade.  Once.

      It probably helps that I live in a city that never had parking meters.

      1. Chicago even “fixed” that by privatizing the parking meters. They all take credit card now – and charge up to $5/hour downtown. I was shocked when I found that street parking for a show in the theater district was just as expensive as parking in a lot.

      2. I keep the cold beer in an old Coke machine, which takes two quarters to dispense. This is one of many reasons that I keep coins around. But pennies, pennies are the devil’s coinage.

  3. Sweden got rid of the last öre coin a couple of years ago, and even though öre still exists on price tags, the sum is either rounded up or rounded down to the nearest whole krona depending on your total. I.e. if you end up with a total of 3.35 SEK it’s rounded down to 3, and vice versa if it’s 3.60 SEK it’ll cost you 4.

      1. That’s seven cents. I don’t think a vendor could afford to offer products that require a seven cent cash transaction. It would be cheaper for them to give it to you for nothing.

      2. I don’t think I’ve seen anything cost less than 0.50 SEK since I was a kid, which was a long time ago. The only thing I can think of would be buying by weight, like loose candy or nuts. Then you could arguably buy so very little that you’d get below 0.50.. But I imagine the store would simply say no.

        1. Which puts you at needing to keep either nickles as well as dimes, or abolish both and just have everything represented by quarter dollar amounts.

    1. i wish but i think it’s too progressive for the united states. there’d be a backlash from people sentimental about pennies, people who don’t understand economics, people who support the copper industry, et al. 

      1. Copper…?

        Other than that light spray tan of copper on the outside they haven’t been made out of copper since 1982-ish.

      2. You guys are still making copper pennies?  I figured you were like us Canucks, we make them out of steel with a copper plating. For a while in the 90’s and into the 2000’s, we made them out of almost pure zinc, which seems pretty crazy now.

        1. Us pennies have been zinc with a copper plating since 1982.
          We wouldn’t go to steel because the US is pretty strict that when coins are re-designed, they maintain the same size, weight and magnetic qualities, so that coin mechanisms don’t have to be replaced (much).  In this case the zinc pennies weigh less but it would be a real problem if they were magnetic since coin mechanisms all exclude magnetic coins.

          1. Which is funny since only old tyme arcade entertainment machines are the only penny accepting machines I can think of.

    2. I would like the U.S. to just have prices include any taxes or fees and have prices all end in 5 or 0. No rounding is really necessary then. Let the merchant and gubmint do it at the back end when taxes are paid by the merchant.

      1. Exactly.  If I owned a business I’d just have all the prices setup to round to nice whole numbers, or include tax and make everything nice and easy.

        For most places the tax rate is straight across the board.  Grocery stores are probably the hardest (at least in NC because we have varying tax rates on goods.)

        1.  This is actually illegal unless a special waiver is granted.  I don’t know why this is, maybe someone can enlighten us but that’s what I understand to be the case.

      2. If you build in the tax, then it starts looking like VAT, and people will be up in arms about “hidden taxes” and freedom and somehow someone will say you’re coming for their guns. I guarantee it.

      3. “I would like the U.S. to just have prices include any taxes”

        The above should read: “I would like the 7500 jurisdictions in the 45 states in the U.S. with sales taxes to just have prices include any taxes” 

        Sales taxes are a state issue and the states are not likely to give that up for a national VAT.  And the folks in the 5 states without a sales might get cranky about a national VAT.

        ” when taxes are paid by the merchant.”   Actually, the merchant collects the tax from the customer and then remits it to the appropriate government agency.

    3.  I’m still waiting for them to finally drop small-denomination paper bills.  That’s almost on par with the Imperial system as far as absurdities go, I rekcon.

        1. Yes, an example the U.S. should follow. When I lived in the U.S. briefly I even made a habit of carrying around whatever small number of dollar coins I could get from the local bank.

        2. How do you ‘make it rain’ with out mass injuries? How do you pay strippers*? Lube up the loonies and shove them up the ass?

          *stripper is gender neutral, I’m not being sexist here.

          1. If you’re tipping the strippers with ones and twos, I hope you’re not eating at that club.

      1.  Heh, the Norwegian central bank was recently considering replacing 50NOK notes with coins. This because they need to print new ones all the time to replace those worn out.

        Btw, are the US notes still the same size and color across the range?

        1. Same size, same color, but somehow even uglier. Except for the $1 bill, which hasn’t been changed largely because it would break all of the vending machines.

          1.  There seems to be a whole lot of “remain the same because it would break a whole lot of X” holdovers.

        1. Wouldn’t be the first time Hamilton got killed by govt people.

          Actually I get 10s semi-frequently, there’s some vending machine at my school that’ll take them but 20s. 50s are the ones I rarely see. 

  4. As a coin collector with a special interest in Canadian coins (mainly because they turn up so often in my loose change, but also because I just like ’em) I’m sorry to see the penny go. It puts a sad cap on my collection. I know I’d never be able to find Canadian pennies to have a collection going back all the way to the first year they were minted, but I did take pleasure in knowing that I’d be able to keep adding to the collection every year.

    Since it will be the last one my 2012 Canadian penny will have to take a special place of honor alongside the 1967 penny.

  5. For the sake of convenience and time many delis I go to NYC always round in the customers favor to the nearest nickel or dime.

    I remember going to a bagel place by my house, and my bill came to $3.26 I gave her 4 dollars and she gave me 74 cents change. 2 quarters. 2 dimes and 4 pennies. It infuriated me. So much so, that I never went there again. If they do that 100 times a day, that is 100 times where they count out 74 cents, wasting their time and the customer’s time, and probably pissing off a lot of customers in the process. Not only should she have just forgave the penny, but if we take it back a step further, the owner should price everything so it comes out to a nice round number when tax is added in.

    I used to work at Nobody Beats the Wiz, a New York based electronics chain. They priced their CDs at $11.98, not $11.99. With NY State sales tax figured in at the time, $11.98 plus tax came out to $13.00 even, that 13.01 means a customer has to find a penny, or the cashier either has to let it slide or give 99 cents change. If he/she forgives the penny several times a day, the register is a little off at the end of his/her shift. It just made everyone’s live easier.

    A little common sense goes a long way.

    1.  Maybe because everything happens slower in the Midwest, people always give me exact change even when it’s stupid to count out 93 cents or so. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m in NYC.

      1. Come to Chicago and you’ll get a mix. Particularly when the owner works the register, you get rounding pretty often. Employees don’t seem to have that authority (read in Cartman voice).

      2. I live on Long Island, but work in NYC. While Long Island is still way faster than pretty much everywhere I’ve been, it is way way slower than NYC.  i’m so used to getting food in the city that the speed of delis and bagel shops on Long Island drives me nuts.

        Long Island: Wait on line for 10 minutes even though there are only 6 people on line….Ok,…..what can I get you……
        Me: Super Onion. Cream Cheese.

        ok….oh what was that again?

        5 minutes later…ok let me ring you up..takes gloves off…..

        Me: Wait, that’s not what I ordered….. shoot me.

        NYC: (20 people on line, I’m up to order in 2 minutes)..Next? Next?
        Me: Super onion. Cream cheese. Cinnamon Raisin butter. Sesame with low-fat vegetable cream cheese.
        NYC: Guy slices each bagel in one swoop. grabs big wad of cream cheese, or butter. Slaps it on bagel. Wraps each one in  one precise motion and hands them to me. He never had to ask you to repeat your order and didn’t get it wrong. You then take the bagels to the cashier (who only rings you up, does not prepare food), who rings up everyone rapid fire and is never thrown by things that cashiers need to know like basic math.

    2. Perhaps  it’s a regional thing…in NC this rarely happens.  For a time I worked for a large grocery chain and we were allowed to be off up to $10 per day.  So most of the time I’d round up to whole nickles (only from 4 cents). 

      Of course a lot of people pay with cards now, so really money should be lasting longer anyway.

    3. Don’t stores there have a little dish on the counter that says Leave a Penny, Take a Penny?

    4.  Yeah, and every time her register is “a little off”, the head office makes a note and adds it to her file, and Loss Prevention starts looking at her harder, and her job gets just a little more precarious. But hey, what does that matter next to the inconvenience YOU suffer from getting correct change?

      1. Agreed. Where I worked you could only be 2 dollars out per shift. O_o  So you could hand out the extra penny once or twice a day, but you still risked that being the 2 cents that put you over the $2 mark. Cashiers (at big chains esp) have very little discretion. 

    5.  To be fair, someone with your temperament could become infuriated whatever side that coin comes down on.
      Contrast: “She didn’t even care that she was handing out free money to the customers! If I run the business, I would fire that thief on the spot.”
      With: “It infuriated me. So much so, that I never went there again.”
      You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake, lots of people are as crazy as you.
      Better to err on the side of caution, methinks.

  6. I hope the US follows this example. Pennies are a waste of everyone’s time. In fact, let’s round everything to the nearest dime and be done with it.

    From Wikipedia, Penny debate in the United States:

    There has never been a coin in circulation in the U.S. worth as little as the penny is worth today. Due to monetary inflation as of 2007, a nickel is worth approximately what a penny was worth in 1972. When the United States discontinued the half-cent coin in 1857, it had a 2008-equivalent buying power of 11 cents. After 1857, the new smallest coin was the cent, which had a 2008-equivalent buying power of 26 cents. 

    1. How does that work? shouldn’t the buying power of a ½ cent coin be half of the buying power of a 1-cent coin? Instead it’s 11 vs. 26. Did the buying power of the penny somehow go *up* after 1857?

      1. Inflation math, seems to play mind games with just about everything.

        The basic thing is that if you compare what you had to pay for something back then with what you pay today, you get these oddities. Never mind that the economy has basically exploded since then, with all kinds of new products and services (and more than a few going bye bye for the same reason).

        The mind trick is that the denominations read the same, but the total has increased, making the individual piece a smaller part of the whole.

        It may be easier to envision if for each time period one define the total money in circulation as 1, and then divide that by the total number of bills and coins out there for the period (never mind all those numbers on various bank ledgers).

  7. Just the first, easy to accept step on the road towards a cashless society. (i.e No more undeclared income, stricter regulation of commerce between individuals, etc) 

    1. I’m not a fan of cashlessness, but I’m not sure how eliminating an all-but-worthless unit of currency is a step towards a cashless society.

      And if it is, the first step would have been when they eliminated the half penny.

          1. Then, several thousands of years after the Mesopotamians, god created the heavens and the earth.

        1.  I get my morning coffee at a shop where the owner likes to give artisan change — Susan B. Anthony dollars, two dollar bills, etc. Not always, but I think he occasionally goes to the bank and asks ’em “whaddya got?”

          1. I think Kenya has a 40 Schilling coin, too, which was made in 2004(?) to commemorate the 40th anniversary of independence. 

    2.  I hate getting stuck behind cashless yahoos at the checkout.  Fumble with wallet/pocketbook for card, mash numbers or try to recall PIN, scribble screen, worn out mag strip.  Almost as bad as check writers.  My twenty goes to checker, change comes back, I’m out the door.

      1. Pulling a card from your wallet takes more time than pulling a twenty?  A twenty which will often times elicit a: “Do you have anything smaller” from the cashier….

        Yeah, waiting the seconds for somebody to swipe a card and enter their pin is much worse than waiting for grandma to dig around in her coin purse, and  slowly count out several dollars and cents in coin change for the grocery cashier.

        1. The person you reply to at no point implied that everyone who pays in cash pays faster than those who pay in plastic, nor that it takes more time to pull a card out of a wallet than a bill.

          On the other hand, sarcasm and false dichotomies are real crowd-pleasers, so I can’t blame you for trying.

      2.  I don’t know… ever get stuck behind someone buying a pack of cigarettes with pennies and nickles? Or — more often — someone who spends two minutes searching their purse for painfully exact change?

        Seems to me that yahoo-ish-ness knows no ideological bounds. You have card-carrying ones, and pocket full ‘o pennies ones…

        1. It’s also sad how many cashiers don’t understand the concept of overpaying a bit to get a solid bill back instead of a bunch of coins.  I’ve gotten in a number of confrontations because of this..

          1. Try:

            “I have a hole in my pocket, you insensitive clod!”


            “The coffee machine at work only takes bills, and lack of caffeine makes me even whinier than you!”

      3. Setting aside the absurdity of it taking longer to retrieve a card than a bill, most stores now have an expedited process for sales under a certain amount.  At Target, for example, all I have to do is swipe my credit card for purchases under $50.  No signature, no confirmation.

        The person in front of me counting out exact change takes for-fucking-ever.

    1.  Yea, that seems about right to me.  There are things that cost 50c now (kind of rare, but it happens), so a 25c coin gives us reasonable resolution around buying a single minimum item.

      Should probably turn $1 and $5 bills into coins too, and eliminate $10 bills.

      Quarter coin, Dollar coin, 5 Dollar coin, 20 dollar bill, 100 dollar bill.

      Sounds about right.

      IMO you ought to be able to buy lunch with coins.

      1. That’s how it is in the UK, we used to have £1 notes (bills) when I was a kid but they did away with them 25-or-so years ago. We have £1 and £2 coins and the lowest note is £5.
        Is your highest denomination coin 25c? that’s ridiculously low! That’s less than 16 pence over here :)

        1. There are 50-cent USD coins, but they’re extremely rare. There are also $1 coins, but nobody likes to use them because they’re almost the exact same size as our quarters – the only way to quickly tell them apart is by color (quarters are silvery, dollars are gold) or the edges (quarters are reeded, dollars are smooth).

          1. I hate when I f’up and have to use a 20 bill in the ticket machine for light rail, and get back 17 coins. At least it isn’t in quarters though.

        2. I’ve always been a huge fan of the British Pound. Small, yet thicker and easy to distinguish in a pocket, and a weighty and solid feeling that a currency should have. And it took up less space in my pocket than US quarters and was worth six times as much (based on exchange rates at the time).

          And yet every time the US introduces a new dollar coin, it ignores that and creates another quarter doppelgänger that fails for the same reason as the previous one.

          1. The first time I went to Ireland, pre-euro, the coins there felt too insubstantial; very light and not at all like the hefty British money I was used to.

          2. Yes, the heft of the coin is important.  I’m a collector and wish we’d go back to something like the Morgan or Peace dollar coins.

            I was stationed in West Berlin in the mid-80s and remember the first time I got change in East Berlin.  Those aluminum pfennigs really threw me off!  I guess as light as RadioSilence’s pinginí.

    1.  Just think how the founder-fetishists would act if he tried to do away with the Jefferson Nickel.

  8. Personally, I think we should eliminate everything but the hundred dollar bill and round everything $50+ up to $100 and anything $50 or under would be free. 

    It would probably even out in the end but it would be hell on the dollar store industry.

  9. Frankly, it’s time to simply move the decimal point on all values and use “new dollars” in the same vein as 70’s Britain going to new pence.
    No more $4 / gallon gasoline – it’s only $0.40  huzzah!

  10. In Europe (Eurozone, to be precise) a couple of countries have gone back and forth on this. Some countries never minted one- and two-cent coins, others switched to rounding to the nearest 5 cents at some point, some switched back again. A local drugstore chain rounded down for a couple of years (rounding up is not legal in my country, we’ve always used 1- and 2-cent coins) but recently started giving exact change.

    I’m kind of torn on this; on the one hand, yes, those almost useless copper coins are annoying. On the other hand, as long as stores insist on using -,99 prices, I don’t want them to round up. Give change or be honest and adjust your displayed price. I always do manage to spend my 1-cent coins though, paying 99 cents in exact change on occasion.

    1. The real answer on that is to go cashless. Pay by card and you can pay 99c. Kiwis and Aussies figured this out ages ago (it helped us that by 2000 most shops accepted  debit cards and had no minimum fee for free transactions). I used to pay for a 79c pack of sweets with my debit card with no shame!

      1. Oh, absolutely, everybody has an ATM card that you can use to pay even the smallest amount at almost any store at no extra cost, just enter your PIN and confirm. (That card also works as a rechargeable debit card if you want; there’s no advantage for the consumer though so nobody uses that function.)

        Also, no checks/cheques here anymore, there are much better ways to transfer money in the Eurozone…

        Still, cash is legal tender for now, so sort it out. ;-)

        1. To be fair, the UK is still using pennies, and also has some incredibly stupid minimum transactions: some only accept a minimum of £5, others charge 80p for anything less than £7.50! Then again, pretty much everything relating to the UK is anacronistic :)

          1. Yeah, the UK’s banking system seems… I don’t know, somewhat cumbersome and American.

            Dunno, life’s just much easier when you can pay for anything and everything out of your bank account/with bank transfers (and instantaneously) instead of relying on PayPal/credit cards/checks. But to each their own.

          2. @boingboing-64b08c66dfe324e82234564082866900:disqus That sounds weird. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say the US banking system is somewhat cumbersome from being based on the UK’s system?

            Also checks are irritating, but there are some neat tricks to them: like being able to float one for weeks at a time (mostly just person to person though), or having fun with the memo line, because what’s on there HAS to go on record. I was at a house party and the redneck-ish owner accused me of breaking something I didn’t, so to make peace I went to my car and wrote him a check but put ANAL PLAY PAYMENT on the line. Dude never cashed it.

    2. In America we already have rounding. 45 states have sales tax, which produces an end price that isn’t evenly divisible by pennies and thus has to be rounded up or down. No one cares for that. No one will care about this either.

      1. Oh yes, people care. ;-) Psychological barrier; a penny is something tangible, real money IOW. Examples abound all over the world.

  11. When the cost of minting currency exceeds the coin’s face value – especially with a thoroughly-debased coin like the copper-plated steel Canadian penny – you’re doing something wrong.

    “It costs too much to mint (cheap copper-plated steel) pennies” is a euphemism for “We’ve so completely inflated the value of our fiat money that it’s now worth less than even the debased non-precious metal coins.”Inflating the value of a fiat currency is a really handy way for the government to take money out of your pocket without needing to persuade you to vote for a tax increase. They just print more fiat currency and the money in your pocket automatically loses value.  Value is thus transferred from your pocket to the government coffers with no need for messy, unpopular  taxes.

    When the government tells you they have to debase the coinage because precious metals cost too much, you know they’ve been inflating the currency.

    And when they tell you they can’t even ‘afford’ to mint the *debased* coins, you know they’re out of control.  

    Just wait.  Eventually, even paper bills will be worth less than face value, and then they’ll start trying to devalue the paper currency so they can trade you one ‘new’ dollar bill for a hundred (or a thousand, or whatever…) ‘old’ dollar bills. 

    Because, they’ll tell you,  “it costs too much to print the old bills.”

    And if you believe that, I know where you can buy a great bridge… 

    1. “We’ve so completely inflated the value of our fiat money that it’s now worth less than even the debased non-precious metal coins.”

      I think you have that backwards. The value of the currency has been deflated, ie, it ain’t worth much.

      Inflation in prices is mathematically equivalent to deflation of the currency’s value.

  12. I guess everyone’s jumping on the penny story and missing the big story that you and everyone you know will be working a couple of extra years now that retirement’s 67. Thanks, guys. Just don’t forget who will be in charge of changing your diapers in the rest home …

    Could we please have prices with sales taxes included? It’s inane that we don’t pay the price we see.

    1. The Benford distribution applies to the most significant digit, not the least. I don’t think rounding will have a bias if the pricing is unbiased.

      1. It applies to any digit. It is more pronounced in more significant digits. On the scale on pennies, it would be pretty negligible, but its still there.

  13. I’ve said for years we ought to ditch the penny. I can’t believe The Harper Gov’t ® has actually done something I agree with!

  14. [over corrosion-clad wire-hanging civil-defense style loud-speaker]  “As of midnight tonight all pennies are to be valued as 10 pennies!  All other monetary units similarly advanced ten-fold.  End of message.”  [repeated in French, Esperanto, and an odd clicking dialect]

    1. In Buffalo, NY we seem to import Canadian pennies. If you use cash you’re guaranteed to end up with several Canadian pennies in change each week. And you can use them interchangeably… cashiers either don’t notice or don’t care, especially now that the exchange rate is essentially even.

      Even back when CAD was worth 60% of USD, Canadian pennies were interchangeable here because it’s been so long since pennies were really worth anything.

      It always gives me a smile to receive Canadian pennies as change (it’s rarely any other coin because they’re more obvious), and I’ll miss it. But I suspect that the Canadian pennies will remain in circulation in Buffalo (and other border towns) longer than they do in Canada :)

      1.  I also used to get the Canadian nickels and dimes in change.  When I got back from West Germany I used to use the D-mark coins as quarters in the 80s.  I was in college then and a cheap f*cker.  D-land über alles, baby!

  15. The UK should get rid of the penny too. And the 2p. Then we should rename the 5p to ‘one shilling’…

  16. Y’know, Japan still has one-yen coins, last time I heard.  They’re made of aluminum, and if I’m not mistaken, worth about a tenth of a penny.

    1. Ugh don’t get me started on those. I guess the good thing is that they’re light (light enough to not break surface tension on a glass of water) and doesn’t weigh you down. I either deposited them at the bank or chuck ’em in a charity box. 

  17. I read that some shopkeepers here *already* stopped using the penny because their registers lacked enough coin compartments.  Remember, we have $1 and $2 coins, eh?

    1. I was a cashier in Canada when the Toonie came out.  They had all kinds of little adaptors you could use to convert bill holders into coin holders in cash drawers.  Another option was a little thing that would split one of the coin bins into two.

  18. I like that if the size of a coin reflected its actual value, then the picture of the 1920 cent above would be pretty close to correct scale compared to the modern penny.

    I avoid pennies.  I like cash and coins, but pennies are a waste of my not-very-valuable time, so I tend to leave them in little stacks on the armrests of public benches or the outside ledge of drive-thru windows, just outside the view of the cashier.  Feels like littering, but some people still find them worthwhile.

    I’m reluctant to embrace a cashless society.  Too often I might want to make an “off-the-record” (though perfectly licit) purchase, and sometimes I want to buy something off a private citizen without needing to write a check or arrange some kind of bank transfer.  Our smartphones can handle that for us these days, but occasionally it’s nice to be able to buy a gift for my wife without her being able to check a bank statement to see how much I spent on it, for example.  (And not because I’m a cheapskate, guys, but she doesn’t like me to spend too much on her.)

    1. Agreed on the privacy implication but I have to tell you, paying with contactless smart cards like they’ve been doing for years in many Japanese businesses and vending machines (mostly near train stations) is freaking convenient. Almost makes paying fun. Pay in one second, never run out of change. Sometimes things work so well you are fully willing to forget about all possibly negative aspects. ;-)

      1. Yeah, I certainly don’t want to discourage the use of such things.  There’s one physically outside the drive-thru window of my local Jack-In-The-Box, and it was pretty cool to just tap my card against it and be handed my Ultimate Cheeseburger and Large Onion Rings just like that.  But it only worked for a few weeks.  Still there, but now you have to hand your card to the cashier, and they hand it back a few seconds later.  Don’t know why they stopped using the outside dingus.

        Anyway, convenience is fun, but I just don’t want it supplanting cash entirely. Cash is too convenient for some purposes, and absolutely essential if we want to maintain some fig-leaf of privacy in our commercial dealings.

        1. Wow.
          I wonder what the story is there. You’re American and it’s fast food, so it’s clearly not related to union rules. But how could it be abused I wonder? Provided it wasn’t just a technical failure.

          Never mind, it’s the lawyers again, betcha.

          1. Could be it’s busted, but with no moving parts and no obvious external damage (not even graffiti) on it, I’d be mildly surprised if it’s broken.  I think it’s designed for outdoor use.

            Still, I don’t think they stopped using it for security purposes either.  They don’t take your card for more than 5 or 10 seconds, never check a second ID, and don’t even need your signature or a PIN anymore.  In other words, the external doohickey should work just as well as the cardscanner inside.

    1.  They last longer.  (that is, need to be replaced less often.  (now is the added cost of a metal disk * longevity greater than a fancy layered cloth paper sheet * longevity, worth it?  Canada says ‘oui’))   So is there really no way of making plastic …uh… heptagons hard to counterfeit? (the credit card companies seem to think so [shrug])

      1. But what advantage do they give to a *consumer* (i.e. a citizen who is using the money, not the government who is making it)?  Beyond, of course, some future savings in taxes because the Mint is spending less money (as if).  Personally, I hate coins, I keep my money in a clip in my pocket and any coin change that I get tends to just drift around down there and annoy me.

          1. When the toonie came out, a few years after the loonie, there was considerable discussion about what to call it (other than the official “two-dollar coin”). I’m still disappointed that the popular choice wasn’t “doubloon”.

          2. Canadians just aren’t that big on puns (or clever historical references), unfortunately. I had the same thought.

    2. You could have polymer notes (bills) as in Australia and New Zealand, Singapore, etc. and in an increasing number of countries.

      1. I ran into something about that a while back, seems the company making those bills have a checkered past.

  19. In Argentina, the smallest coin is currently 5 centavos.  So you round, and there’s a law that says that rounding should always be in the customer’s favor.  But there’s also a shortage of coins, so shopkeepers often can’t give you precise change.  So, when you get rounded out of more than 5 or 10 cents, you get a candy.  Which really IS in your favor.   

    Say your total is $17.88.  You give the clerk a twenty.  You should get $2.15 back (by the law) but you’ll get a two peso bill and a fruity candy.  I do hope this is what Ottowa is suggesting by ‘work it out for themselves’.   

    1. This is the ‘traditional’ solution in many countries when inflation corrodes the value of the currency or the government cannot mint enough coins, it would seem, as in Italy or Kenya for instance.

  20. There’s a much cheaper way for Canada to get pennies than minting them themselves – import American pennies!  They cost a bit under $0.01 Canadian, and they’re the right size.

    1. Canadians would complain that their culture is being eroded, and American AM talk radio would be in hysterics that this is the first step to establish the Amero and that all currency will be minted with the face of Obama so all good white christians won’t be able to conduct business without praising the antichrist.

  21. I would love to see Australia follow NZ’s lead and get rid of the five cent coin. Things don’t seem to break down to a point of accumulating a lot of 5c coins but is annoying nonetheless. 

    I wouldn’t mind having a 5 dollar coin too but that’s just me.

  22. But let’s keep gasoline pricing to the tenth of a cent. The public needs to maintain their math skills.

  23. Can I just take a moment to wonder what happened to the quaint old art of talking to customers, passing the time of day and just, you know building a relationship, or even (gasp) flirting between customers and sales staff.
    Or doesn’t anyone in the US have time for that any more?

    1.  I come out of the kitchen to talk to many of my customers all the time.  Good idea to build rapport and receive feedback that may enhance their dining experience.  I cook with love so they don’t feel as if they eat at a automat.

      1. I like that. But having an automat would be awesome.

        I asked my sister next time we go to LA if she’d take me to the cupcake ATM and she said no because that street is full of hookers.

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