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Banks and Coins

We collect loose change. Although we try to spend it, coins sometimes end up sitting in our wallets. We have some nice saving boxes that like receiving coins. Twice a year we open our saving boxes and count the money. In Germany banks will give you funny coloured sheets of paper to roll up a defined number of coins. Each roll then holds coins of a defined value. I remember that we loved to do that when we were little. My mum saved all the money and my sister and I spent hours rolling it up. Those were the good old day.

So we did that last night and ended up with 12 rolls of different values plus two handfuls of loose change which didn’t make an entire roll. It was my task to take it to the bank today, give it to them and ask them to credit it to our account.

In the good old days banks were customer-friendly enough to have a machine to do the counting. They just poured all the loose coins in and the machine would count it automatically (I loved the sound when the money went through). They also took the rolls you had and weighed them to find out if they held the correct number of coins.

Well, back in the present I entered the bank, gave them all the rolls and showed them the loose coins. Head shaking.

„We usually don’t do that anymore.“

„What – take money back?“

„Well, accept these rolls and loose coins.“

„????? It’s your money, isn’t it?“

She looked at me and suddenly I felt as though I were back in the 70s. Seriously. She tried to be as polite as she could and pulled out one of these counting boards you use to count coins into stacks. And then she gave me the board and said: „You’ll have to do that.“ I …. I mean I couldn’t believe it. Hello! I am your customer! Let me try to remember that thing .. that … well, you know … yes: SERVICE! I was quite puzzled and started counting my coins into the stacks on the board.

While I was doing that she said „Well, I will help you with the rolls.“ And from somewhere way down she brought up a little scale and started weighing them. „You know,“ she said, „from next month on we will charge you 20 cents per roll.“ — WHAT? I bring you your stupid money back and you charge ME? — „Oh, why is that?“ I asked. „Well, “ she said, „it costs money to weigh them, transport them, store them and deliver them to the shops again.“ — Seriously. I pay for your process of getting coins into shops? — Of course the shops also pay to get rolled coins!

I couldn’t quite believe it and kept counting. „Where are those funny machines that you used to have to count money?“ I asked. „Oh,“ she said, „they are gone. They were unreliable and broke from time to time. I would have to charge you three euros to use it anyway.“ — WHAT? Three euros to have the machine count money worth seven?

I stood there in disbelief. „It all costs money,“ she said.

So I counted my coins onto that board and she took a calculator and finally credited it back to our account. „Well, what do I do next time I want to get rid of the coins?“ I asked her. She pulled a plastic bag from under the counter and said „You can fill your coins in here, seal it and put your account number on it. You bring it here, we will count it and credit the amount back to your account.“

„Wait a minute. If I do that you will have to count it anyway.“

„We have an external provider to do that for us.“

„And that will be free then?“

„No, I will have to charge you three euros per bag.“

I am quite surprised. When I was young, all the kids opened their saving boxes on World Savings Day each year and took the coins down to the Sparkasse. The people in the bank counted the money and we received a nice reward. How do they do that today? Charge each child three euros upfront, give them a counting board, charge another five euros for checking the board and using their calculator and then send them home without a reward (because a reward is ten euros extra)?

Banks always find a way to abuse their market position. They charge you for every little smile, signature and gesture. Service is good in a bank – if you pay enough.

Shame on you, Sparkasse!

P.S.: Just remembered: I was waiting in line at the cashier at our local supermarket the other day. An old lady had to pay something like 8.29 euros for her shopping. She opened her wallet and poured out lots of small change. The cashier said „I can’t take this – we are not allowed to accept these large amounts of coins.“ — just in case you thought we might just spend the coins…

Featured image: simonlaprida / 123RF Stock Foto

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