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It’s the weight that really counts

I collect coins. No, I’m not a coin collector, but one who empties his pocket each night and dumps the loose change in a large container. When the container is full, I run to my bank and cash them in. Call it mad money.
That was until recently when I went to the bank and cashed in the coins. Now I’m just mad.
I went to the bank with a sack full of coins. I counted out the quarters, dimes and nickels, which came up to over $80. I didn’t bother to count the hundreds of pennies, but I had a good idea of what the bag contained.
But when I cashed them in and the teller ran the coins through their sorting/counting machine, she came back with total of $79 plus change. That was less than I expected, but I wrote it off as an error in counting on my part.
I wouldn’t have said anything except a day later my son brought in his container of loose change. He counted $216. He counted it twice, and then had his mother count it twice as well. It came up to $216.
But when he cashed in the coins, it came out to $202 plus change. That was off by over $13! How can that happen? He asked them about the difference and was told it counted $202. A recount was out of the question, apparently.
I stewed about the issue for several days and then finally went to the bank to question their counting ability or, specifically, their machine’s ability to count.
First, I asked if they charged us a fee to cash in the coins.
Is the counting machine calibrated or checked for accuracy?
Not really.
It seems the machine is not designed to actually count each penny, rather it estimates based on weight. Each coin has a different weight. The coins are bagged and then weighed before sent to the feds. The feds pay based on what the bag weighs, so I was told.
So, you really don’t count the coins?
Apparently not, therefore your actual count really doesn’t count (pardon the pun) when cashing in your coins. Weigh it instead.
In my attempts to reason with the tellers, I asked if it would be better to roll the coins myself before I bring them in? I was told I could, but the tellers would have to rip open the rolls to put them in the counting machine.
Oh, my! That seemed a tad counterproductive in my mind. I suspect my stunned stare may have given me away.
Then I asked if the bank still has the policy of ensuring all its tills add up to the penny before they can leave for the day. I was told that was still the policy.
Which brings me to this point: If you paid me $79 from your till and my coins were worth more than that, how does that balance your till? Or in my son’s case, how do you account for that lost $13?
No answer.
My son has had an aversion to banks for many years. This episode did nothing to relieve that suspicion. I’m beginning to see his point.
So what do you do with all that loose change?
Maybe it’s better to pay your bills in coins and let someone else battle the banks over their estimating ways.
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014, but still plans to submit an occasional column.