Man cited for paying bill with 2,500 pennies
Settling a disputed bill with pennies or other small change is occasionally used as a form of protest. But is it smart or effective?
What's one way to get your jollies while paying a disputed bill? Satisfy the debt with pennies -- lots of them.
Or maybe not. A Vernal, Utah, man faces a charge of disorderly conduct for paying a $25 medical bill with 2,500 pennies, according to police. "After asking if they accepted cash, (Jason) West dumped 2,500 pennies onto the counter and demanded that they count it," Vernal assistant police chief Keith Campbell told the Deseret News. "The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor."
West left after staffers at the health clinic threatened to call the police, who later wrote a citation for disorderly conduct, police said. The maximum fine is $140.
Others have employed similar tactics without legal consequence.
- The Long Island Press pointed out that a University of Colorado student paid a tuition bill with 14,000 $1 bills to protest the cost. Post continues after video about that payment.
- Then there's the case of Thierry Cahez, a San Diego County man who after several tries was successful in paying a $6,500 credit card bill with 650,000 pennies in March. "Cahez said he decided to pay his credit card bill with pennies because he was upset with his bank over a refinance he couldn't get, and charges and fees on his card," an ABC station reported.
- Last year, a University of Kansas student got the school's parking office to overturn its policy not to accept coins for payment of parking fines, after taking 1,000 pennies to pay a $10 fine.
- In August, a Cle Elum, Wash., a businessman and City Council member tried unsuccessfully to pay a past-due personal property tax bill of $330 with pennies. Ron Spears said he was protesting the fact that the original $34 tax bill he hadn't paid had ballooned with penalties and interest.
It appears the citation in the Utah case was due to the mess that was made -- not the payment of the bill with very small change. However, merchants and others can decide NOT to accept pennies as payment, Snopes.com wrote while addressing this false claim: "U.S. law specifies that merchants do not have to accept more than 100 pennies as payment."
Pennies are legal tender, yes. But no law requires merchants to accept them. "Businesses are free to accept or reject pennies as they see fit," Snopes wrote.
Do you think paying with pennies or other small coins is an effective means of protest? Or are you just creating lots of additional work for bureaucrats and clerks who have to process the payment? (Suggestion: If you're compelled to do this, at least count and roll the coins first.)
We're siding with Adrian Chen at Gawker, who wrote about the tax bill incident: "In the end, Spears gave up the civil disobedience shtick and agreed to pay his property tax the normal big-boy way: With bills."
More on MSN Money:
Several years ago Sears demanded I pay a credit card off before it was due (no, I was not late in payments). I paid the $125 in pennies. They tried to reject them, but I reminded them pennies are legal tender.
Seems if businesses can reject payment with legal tender (such as pennies, nickels, dimes, etc.), then upon their refusal to accept payment the debt should absolved.
BUT WHY is paying with pennies considered a form of protest? Money is money. pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters, half dollar, coin dollar and paper dollar, etc. The people paid, and its the clerk's job to count any amount of money given to them to pay a bill. Not paying is wrong, but paying is the right thing to do. If a business does not want pennies, they need to post a sign for all to see that the business does not accept pennies or provide pennies. The disorderly charge is ridiculous and the police didn't see his conduct so how do they know he was disorderly? He paid his bill and left when asked, so that is not disorderly.
We don't know the circumstances behind this guy's beef with the medical facility- but chances are he was not being heard. Corporations only care about greed- screw everyone else!
Money is money BUT America is NO longer the America we thought we knew and loved. With everything going wrong in this country it as nice to get some good news in my e-mail where a couple "foreclosed" on Bank of America. The video made my day and I hope to see many more like them.
That was off topic but the Banking Cartel and others needs to understand that WE are all Americans and not just the few at the top. I wish the penny man well and the best of luck!!!
what about nickles?
can they refuse to take nickles as well?
what about dimes?
i would make a video of me trying to pay and them refusing the payment.
then when they came after me for non payment i would just tell them to suck it , i tried to pay and you refused.
I have also had to pay with nothin but change before. I do not like having to do it but if that is all a person has then so be it. Money is money, it all spends one way or another! The only reason they had a problem with him paying with pennies is because it was an inconvenience for them, boo hoo! It's just like at the store, they hack an attitude about it. They should all just be happy the are getting their money.
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