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Bill Costs Man Pennies -- 52,662 Of Them
The Indy Channel ^ | March 8, 2007

Posted on 03/08/2007 8:05:12 AM PST by Abathar

CARTERVILLE, Illinois -- A southern Illinois man who's fed up with higher electric rates has come up with a way to show his displeasure while paying his bill.

Robert Hancock said his monthly power bill jumped nearly 200 percent -- to $526.62.

So he's going to send Ameren 52,662 pennies.

Hancock said he's worked things out with a local bank to get the coins and with the post office to mail the money.

It will cost about $50 extra for postage. But Hancock said that if he can cause Ameren a little inconvenience, it's worth it to him.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Miscellaneous; US: Illinois
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To: AD from SpringBay

Hi A.D., As you know Ameren Cilco sends the gas and electric bill together. I noticed on the bill I got about a week ago that the electric part was higher than the gas and I heat with gas. I haven't paid that much attention before, usually I just pay it without noticing the break down.

Is the situation the same with you?

You are right of course about gov interference. There would not have been a huge increase in electric rates at the first of the year if gov had stayed out of it to begin with.

It is what it is and I pay every time. It's not like I can change electric companies. Sort of like my cable bill, trash pick up bill, water bill etc. I owe it, I pay it.


51 posted on 03/08/2007 8:37:29 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: Keith in Iowa
JohnnyZ: .... as far as I'm concerned.

Keith in Iowa: No.... See: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1120208723965

Non Sequitur.

52 posted on 03/08/2007 8:40:15 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose" -- Mitt Romney, April 2002)
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To: 6SJ7
There is something phony baloney about this story.

That thought struck me too, (about the weight of the pennies), I've mailed heavy packages before and it's not cheap. I never have mailed anything that weighed as much as 70 lbs and didn't know about that limit.

53 posted on 03/08/2007 8:41:08 AM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for SSgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: JohnnyZ

Think what you wish...

Fact is, a business is free not to accept the payment as illustrated in the story, or, if they accept the payment, they are free to extract the cost of doing so from the idiot making the stunt payment.


54 posted on 03/08/2007 8:41:53 AM PST by Keith in Iowa (I hate Bill Maher.)
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To: JohnnyZ

Fine, but they care nothing of your opinion, and there's no reason they should. I hope they send him a nice surcharge for their processing costs on his next bill.


55 posted on 03/08/2007 8:42:59 AM PST by Young Scholar
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To: Abathar

200% Holy Cow!

Did he use 200% more energy? His rate went up 200%??? Who else got a 200% increase? There must be more than one ticked off person.

jw


56 posted on 03/08/2007 8:44:28 AM PST by JWinNC (www.anailinhisplace.net)
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To: montag813
I don't know, most of his state gets its power from coal. I can see a increase in transportation for the locomotives, but doubling the price seems kind of steep for coal power.
57 posted on 03/08/2007 8:44:55 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly catching hell for posting without reading the article since 2004)
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To: eyedigress; kevkrom
Pennies are 97.6% zinc after 1982.

Good point, but as 3 of the 8 pennies in my change dish are pre-'82, I'll warm the hobby smelter up anyway.... :)

58 posted on 03/08/2007 8:46:18 AM PST by GoldCountryRedneck ("There are no stupid questions. There are, however, many inquisitive idiots." - unknown)
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To: HitmanLV

Our court received an 80 pound bag of loose pennies for a ticket. The pennies were returned COD, with an order to appear in person in front of the Court. The trip was several hundred miles. I guess the guy had a new insight into paying tickets and slowing down.


59 posted on 03/08/2007 8:48:10 AM PST by healy61
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To: 6SJ7
How much was shipping for a 70 lb package?

Would be good to know how much to send 4 separate packages.

60 posted on 03/08/2007 8:48:32 AM PST by C210N (Bush SPIED, Terrorists DIED!)
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To: kevkrom

They are costing 2 cents to make. Zinc is up too.


61 posted on 03/08/2007 8:49:57 AM PST by zek157
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To: Keith in Iowa

FYI:

http://www.treas.gov/education/faq/currency/legal-tender.shtml


62 posted on 03/08/2007 8:50:32 AM PST by Labyrinthos
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To: Young Scholar
Fine, but they care nothing of your opinion, and there's no reason they should.

Yeah, that's why I post on FR. For the power company's benefit.

On the other hand, were I running the company, I would stick to 'the customer is always right', state that I understand the gentleman's concern, accept his payment, and take the opportunity to redirect consumer ire toward energy policy, etc., and reference some helpful tips on conserving energy.

Unlike the people who think it would be bright for the company to take this opportunity to stick it to the little guy.

63 posted on 03/08/2007 8:52:48 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose" -- Mitt Romney, April 2002)
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To: Abathar
$10k fine if you get caught doing it. (Melting down pennies)


I don't believe that. It is criminal to modify money for purposes of fraud (increasing the denomination or cheating vending machines), but your money is your own to do as you please.
64 posted on 03/08/2007 8:53:49 AM PST by Atlas Sneezed (Your FRiendly FReeper Patent Attorney)
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To: C210N
Its $14+ to ship 70 lbs.

Thus, about $56 to ship the 270 lbs.

65 posted on 03/08/2007 8:54:38 AM PST by C210N (Bush SPIED, Terrorists DIED!)
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To: Keith in Iowa
Think what you wish...

Oh gee, thanks for your permission. :rolleyes:

66 posted on 03/08/2007 8:54:40 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose" -- Mitt Romney, April 2002)
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To: healy61
Our court received an 80 pound bag of loose pennies for a ticket. The pennies were returned COD, with an order to appear in person in front of the Court. The trip was several hundred miles.

Sounds about right. :-)

67 posted on 03/08/2007 8:57:01 AM PST by HitmanLV ("If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking until you do suck seed." - Jerry 'Curly' Howard)
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To: JohnnyZ

>>>Oh gee, thanks for your permission. :rolleyes:

You're welcome. :multiple rolleyes:


68 posted on 03/08/2007 8:58:55 AM PST by Keith in Iowa (I hate Bill Maher.)
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To: Leftism is Mentally Deranged
The pennies are money.

True, but not relevant. See the following FAQ from the US Treasury web page:

Question: I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn't this illegal?

Answer: The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

69 posted on 03/08/2007 8:59:32 AM PST by Brujo (Quod volunt, credunt.)
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To: GeorgefromGeorgia; Leftism is Mentally Deranged; Keith in Iowa; ridesthemiles; brownsfan; ...
The pennies ARE "legal tender," but the electric company does not have to accept them for payment of the bill.

All U.S. currency and coins are legal tender today, according to 31 U.S.C. Section 5103. This was not true in the past -- until the 1870s, pennies were legal tender only up to debts of $0.10, and all other coins up to $10.00. The Coinage Act of 1965 made all U.S. coins legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Just because they are legal tender does not mean that a private citizen or entity is required to accept them; it DOES mean that the Federal Reserve is required to accept them.

A person or business is free to say he/it will not accept bills over $20, or that he/it will only accept nickels, or that he/it will only accept debit cards and not cash, ad nauseum.

The U.S. Treasury's take on this can be found at http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq/currency/legal-tender.html#q1. There are also Federal appellate court cases on this point; I used them when teaching legal research and writing at a law school.

As to whether States can pass laws regarding the acceptance of Federal currency and coins, my guess (not researched, but pretty darn certain) is that a State law that purported to limit the use of federal coins and currency as legal tender would be unconstitutional.

Last fall, a former co-worker (a paralegal who thought she knew all law better than any attorney) attempted to pay a debt owed to her ex-husband in pennies. He refused them, she refused to tender any other payment, and she was found in contempt. True, the actions of a State District Court judge doesn't set Federal law, but it's the only time I've actually run into this issue in life -- other than using it as a topic for teaching in law school.

70 posted on 03/08/2007 9:01:27 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred)
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To: Beelzebubba
Nope, it's defacing government property. It isn't enforced if you want to burn a $20 bill, but if you start PROFITING off of the currency by melting it down they will charge you. (from USA Today):

WASHINGTON

— People who melt pennies or nickels to profit from the jump in metals prices could face jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines, according to new rules out Thursday.

Soaring metals prices mean that the value of the metal in pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel is now 6.99 cents, while the penny's metal is worth 1.12 cents, according to the U.S. Mint.

That has piqued concern among government officials that people will melt the coins to sell the metal, leading to potential shortages of pennies and nickels.

"The nation needs its coinage for commerce," U.S. Mint director Ed Moy said in a statement. "We don't want to see our pennies and nickels melted down so a few individuals can take advantage of the American taxpayer. Replacing these coins would be an enormous cost to taxpayers."

There have been no specific reports of people melting coins for the metal, Mint spokeswoman Becky Bailey says. But the agency has received a number of questions in recent months from the public about the legality of melting the coins, and officials have heard some anecdotal reports of companies considering selling the metal from pennies and nickels, she says.

Under the new rules, it is illegal to melt pennies and nickels. It is also illegal to export the coins for melting. Travelers may legally carry up to $5 in 1- and 5-cent coins out of the USA or ship $100 of the coins abroad "for legitimate coinage and numismatic purposes."

Violators could spend up to five years in prison and pay as much as $10,000 in fines. Plus, the government will confiscate any coins or metal used in melting schemes.

The rules are similar to those enacted in the 1960s and 1970s, when metals prices also rose, the Mint said. Ongoing regulations make it illegal to alter coins with an intent to commit fraud. Before today's new regulations, it was not illegal to melt coins.

Metals prices have skyrocketed worldwide in recent years in response to rising demand, particularly in rapidly growing China and India. Prices for zinc, which accounts for nearly all of the metal in the penny, have risen 134% this year, according to the London Metal Exchange. Even accounting for a recent decline, the price of copper is up 50% since the start of 2006. Nickels are produced from 75% copper and 25% nickel.

Although the Mint's new rules are immediately going into effect, the Mint will take comments from the public for a month.

The government has changed the composition of coins in response to rising metal prices. The penny, which was pure copper when it was introduced in 1793, was last changed in 1982.

71 posted on 03/08/2007 9:01:47 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly catching hell for posting without reading the article since 2004)
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To: Keith in Iowa
The business is free to refuse to accept the payment....and I hope they do.

They are? Isn't currency legal tender for all debts? (or words to that effect)
72 posted on 03/08/2007 9:04:27 AM PST by Stone Mountain
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To: Stone Mountain

Look up to post #70.


73 posted on 03/08/2007 9:05:18 AM PST by Keith in Iowa (I hate Bill Maher.)
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To: Keith in Iowa
Businesses are not obligated to accept payment in the form of pennies.

What about nickels?
74 posted on 03/08/2007 9:05:30 AM PST by Stone Mountain
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To: Beelzebubba
... but your money is your own to do as you please.

Not any more. See this press release from the US Mint, 14 December 2006. They announced new regulations prohibiting the melting of pennies and nickels.

75 posted on 03/08/2007 9:05:43 AM PST by Brujo (Quod volunt, credunt.)
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To: Abathar
This guy is an amateur compared to Algore. That's nothing for a monthly electric bill.
76 posted on 03/08/2007 9:06:43 AM PST by Arrowhead1952 (This tag line has no carbon credit offsets for sale.)
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To: Stone Mountain

And #69 too.


77 posted on 03/08/2007 9:07:31 AM PST by Keith in Iowa (I hate Bill Maher.)
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To: Keith in Iowa

Gotcha - thanks!


78 posted on 03/08/2007 9:08:22 AM PST by Stone Mountain
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To: MotleyGirl70; Abathar; Cagey; Mr. Brightside; Dmitry Vukicevich; lesser_satan
But Kramer said that if he can cause Todd Gack a little inconvenience, it's worth it to him.

I'm not allowed in the electric company ever since that tip jar incident.

79 posted on 03/08/2007 9:14:02 AM PST by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: C210N
How much was shipping for a 70 lb package?

Well, I tried that, and the result was under $10 for the same zip code. That either says the online calculator has a bug or the shipping rate for the USPS doesn't care if the package is 1 pound or 70. Is this correct? I don't know, having never shipped anything even approaching that weight!   ;-)

80 posted on 03/08/2007 9:21:21 AM PST by 6SJ7
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To: Abathar

I believe you can refuse coin, but not currency.


81 posted on 03/08/2007 9:24:46 AM PST by wny
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To: wny
I believe you can refuse coin, but not currency.

An individual or business can refuse coins and/or currency. Please see Post 70.

82 posted on 03/08/2007 9:31:22 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred)
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To: JohnnyZ

"I'd be without electricity because this guy sent them pennies. Wow, that power company is gonna HUNT ME DOWN!"

No they won't hunt you down. They will turn off your electricity and put a nasty note on your credit report.

This is asinine to start with. By doing something this stupid you're only causing your rates to go higher and demonstrating what a jerk you are. If someone really wanted to make a difference they would lobby the local and state govt.


83 posted on 03/08/2007 9:31:50 AM PST by driftdiver
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To: Larry Lucido

That's one of the funniest episodes.


84 posted on 03/08/2007 9:34:36 AM PST by MotleyGirl70 (Duncan Hunter in '08!)
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To: MotleyGirl70

LOL! He was a paisano, too.


85 posted on 03/08/2007 9:40:26 AM PST by Larry Lucido (Duncan Hunter 2008)
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To: Scoutmaster

Good Info, Thanks


86 posted on 03/08/2007 9:49:20 AM PST by GeorgefromGeorgia
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To: Scoutmaster
I've received two private replies to the effect that a seller would never refuse coin and currency.

I politely disagree. Three scenarios come to mind.

You own the business, but don't work on the premises and hire somebody to collect payments. Limiting payments to cash or credit cards not only leaves a written record but makes it more difficult for the employee to divert payments. They can easily pocket cash; it's harder for them to pocket a credit card payment or to cash a check payable to "ABC Corporation."

Second, if you were collecting money from a lot of people (perhaps money for the coaches' gifts in your role as the "team mom" for a football team), you have an automatic written record of payment with checks. With cash, you have to maintain a log. With cash, you often have people claiming they paid when they did not. Announce "checks only" and your record keeping and liability are diminished.

Third, youth collecting from multiple payers (for example, Boy Scouts collecting popcorn money) are safer if they decline cash and accept checks. That way, they're not carrying cash after collecting from teachers at school, not walking around the neighborhood with cash (assuming they're old enough to collect on their own), etc.

Although there's an extra cost to accepting credit cards (charge-backs and the percentage charged by the card issuer) and checks (bad checks), there are legitimate business reasons why you would refuse to accept coins and currency.

Methinks.

87 posted on 03/08/2007 9:50:18 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred)
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To: driftdiver
They will turn off your electricity and put a nasty note on your credit report.

Really. Because some guy in Illinois sent them pennies?

Dope.

88 posted on 03/08/2007 9:54:29 AM PST by JohnnyZ ("I respect and will protect a woman's right to choose" -- Mitt Romney, April 2002)
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To: kevkrom

>>Yes, they can. Bills are "legal tender" and must be accepted
>>in any denomination (if you accept cash at all), but coins,
>>while they have value, are not "legal tender".

Coins are legal tender according to the United States Coinage Act of 1965.

"United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."

If you have a different reference in federal code please provide it.


89 posted on 03/08/2007 10:11:15 AM PST by NYorkerInHouston
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To: Abathar
"Can they?"

Some years ago, a guy tried to pay a lawyer in pennies and the lawyer sued the guy. In appeals, a Federal District Court ruled that the pennies were not Legal Tender.

90 posted on 03/08/2007 10:32:44 AM PST by Deguello
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To: HEY4QDEMS

send the check
as long as the account is legit and all the routing/banking info is correct,
you can write a check on a brick or a watermelon or an anvil... or....


91 posted on 03/08/2007 10:51:59 AM PST by stylin19a
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To: stylin19a

The format of checks is controlled by the Uniform Commercial Code of each state. It's true that you can write a check on a brick or a watermelon, but the intended recipient is not obligated to accept it.


92 posted on 03/08/2007 10:59:03 AM PST by Scoutmaster (You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred)
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Comment #93 Removed by Moderator

To: P-40

He lives in a FROG on the Gore estate, it's his share of the electric bill.


94 posted on 03/08/2007 11:23:30 AM PST by RetSignman (DEMSM: "If you tell a big enough lie, frequently enough, it becomes the truth")
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To: healy61

Is it against the law to pay a ticket in pennies?


95 posted on 03/08/2007 4:01:18 PM PST by Young Scholar
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To: JWinNC

There are. My daughter and her family live in Illinois. Their bill didn't go up 200%, but it did go up about 125%.


96 posted on 03/08/2007 4:13:42 PM PST by abigailsmybaby
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To: Keith in Iowa

Businesses (and government, especially, for that matter) are obligated to take cash *for debts*. A business is perfectly free to define what they deem acceptable for *payment*, however. Wampum, sea-shells, old Reader's Digest, whatever.

This guy *owes* them $526 bucks, so he is free to pay cash. I'm NOT advocating what this guy is doing, just pointing out the difference.


97 posted on 03/08/2007 4:19:24 PM PST by Freedom4US (u)
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To: Young Scholar

I don't think it is against the law to pay a ticket with pennies.


98 posted on 03/08/2007 4:24:04 PM PST by healy61
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To: Freedom4US

>>>This guy *owes* them $526 bucks, so he is free to pay cash.

True, but, as has been plainly demonstrated elsewhere in this thread, the business is free to refuse to accept is cash payment in the form of pennies, or, if they do accept, they are within their rights to recoup the added costs of accepting and processing the payment in pennies.


99 posted on 03/08/2007 4:24:32 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (I hate Bill Maher.)
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To: stylin19a

Many companies also charge a non-standard check processing fee.


100 posted on 03/08/2007 4:25:39 PM PST by Young Scholar
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