Machines and Money, Trust But Verify

More for entertainment value than for any real concern, I decided to prepare a test sample last night for the local Stop and Shop Coinstar coin counter before beginning an extended process of recycling my decades of change accumulation. Unfortunately, my collection has no likely significant content of either collectible coins or silver.

The test sample consisted of $1 each for each of the 6 denominations involved.

1 Eisenhower dollar
2 Kennedy post 1970 halves (no silver)
4 state quarters
10 Franklin non-silver dimes
20 Jefferson nickels
100 Lincoln pennies

Taking these to the store just after its 7AM opening, I encountered my first anomaly, an 'Out of Order' note on the Coinstar machine. After some consideration, I decided to proceed to another Stop and Shop store on the other end of town, 2 or 3 miles away.

This store also had a Coinstar machine, but no note. It is possible that all of the Coinstar machines that I have ever seen are first generation machines, as all that they can do is count coins and deduct a 8.9% fee, or take donations. I suspect that newer, more functional machines may exist.

In any case, feeding the coins into the machine is more difficult than one would expect, as the coins have to navigate a narrow slot before entering the machine, and they tend to jam up easily.

After getting all of the coins into the machine, it soon became apparent that things were not proceeding smoothly. The on screen count of each coin denomination stopped short of the totals inserted, as the only dollar coin, one quarter and two pennies were unaccounted for. The machine flashed a message that some coins were being rejected and returned, but the return slot remained empty.

Proving that paper is easier to produce than real money, the machine ejected a voucher with the short coin counts noted above, a total count of $4.73, an 8.9% fee of $0.42, and a net value of $4.31. At this point, it was time to find a human, and someone whose duties apparently include simple Coinstar maintenance was summoned from the back of the store.

The major problem became apparent when he pulled out the return slot assembly and it proved to be totally jammed up. He then proceeded to unjam the coins, muttering something about a magnet and foreign coins. He then totally surprised me by offering me the entire contents of the jam. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I swept the contents into my cottage cheese carton and redeemed my $4.31 voucher with the only checker on duty. I then returned home to make the list of carton contents that follows:

List --

1 used staple
1 small paper clip
1 3 volt Energizer CR2025 coin cell, measuring 0.02 volts, pronounced DOA

4 US Lincoln pennies, no obvious problems
1 US Franklin dime, no obvious problem

5 Canadian nickels
5 Canadian dimes
9 Canadian quarters

1 New Hampshire Public Works and Highways Token

1 1 Eurocent, Spain
1 1 Eurocent, Greece
1 5 Eurocent, Spain
1 5 Eurocent, Germany

1 L50 (50 Lira??), Italy

8 US Eisenhower dollars, last but not least

end of list

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You're still missing a

You're still missing a quarter. I suppose the other seven Ikes are a decent compensation, but still... It's the principle of the thing, you know. :)

People actually put dollar

People actually put dollar coins in that thing? I'm fine with giving away 8.9 cents on the dollar so I don't have to count my pennies and nickels, but if you have some dollar coins and want bills it seems like it would be quicker to just stand in line and ask the cashier to trade you. Theres no surcharge for that last time I checked.

When my coin container

When my coin container becomes full, I don't even THINK about the CoinStar machines. I go right to the Indian casino that's not far from my home. I don't have to pay a commission, and they just dump everything in the hopper. Takes about 2 minutes, and, since my container holds about 250 bucks (takes 2 years to fill), I have MORE than made up for the time. That's what I think you should do.

But thanks for the experiment. You've verified what I've always thought - CoinStar is a ripoff.

Sounds to me like it was

Sounds to me like it was made by Diebold... :evil: