Is there a limit to the number of coins you can hand over as payment?
Yes. Many countries prevent consumers from causing retail havoc by plonking a jar or bag of small change on a counter‚ and proceeding to count the coins‚ but few consumers are aware of how many are too many.
The issue has been highlighted in the UK media his week‚ thanks to the Essex bus driver who refused to allow Laura Pulley and her young daughter to travel on his bus because she tried to pay her 60p fare with too many pennies – about 25p’s worth.
The driver told her he was legally entitled to accept only 20p in pennies‚ and when she refused to get off the bus‚ he called the police. The policeman who responded gave Pulley the money in non-coppers and they got to ride on the bus.
“I’ve complained to the bus company as I would just expect the driver to use a bit of common sense‚” she was reported as saying. The bus company has since apologised.
So what law was that overzealous driver relying on?
The UK’s Coinage Act of 1971‚ which states that 1p and 2p coins are only legal tender up to a maximum of 20p for a single transaction‚ 5p and 10p coins only up to £5 and 50p pieces only up to £10.
South Africa’s Reserve Bank imposes similar limits on the amount of coins we consumers can pay with for each transaction.
You can’t hand over more than ten 5 cent pieces per transaction‚ in other words‚ no more than 50 cents in 5 cent pieces.
If you’re paying with coins in denominations of between 10 and 50 cents‚ you can only tender up to R5 worth‚ and in the case of coins of R1 or higher‚ the limit is R50 worth.
About those 5 cent pieces – although the SA Mint stopped making them two years ago‚ they remain legal tender‚ along with all other coins no longer being minted.
But retailers regularly refuse to accept 5 cent pieces – any number – from consumers as payment.
If that happens to you‚ stand your ground and ask to see a manager. If they still refuse‚ report them to the Reserve Bank. The number to call is 0861 12 SARB (0861 12 7272).