Yes, I know they're actually worth slightly more at the moment, but bear with me.
September 20, 2011 2:37 PM   Subscribe

What technologies, procedures, or incentives exist to ensure proper rolling of coins?

The laundry in my apartment building requires quarters, but provides no change machine, so every few months I visit my local credit union branch and request $50 in rolled quarters. Within the past year, I've started noticing more and more Canadian quarters slipping through and ending up in these rolls. (I'm in the U.S.) Today I got my latest batch of quarters (5 rolls / 200 coins) and there were 13 Canadian quarters mixed in! That a 6.5% error rate, which seems pretty bad to me.

The rolls are printed with the name "N.F. String & Son, Inc. - Harrisburg, PA". It's not clear to me whether this company rolls the coins or merely prints the wrappers and sells sorting machines to individual banks which do the actual sorting and wrapping.

The first time this happened, it was only a couple of coins, so I was just going to let it slide. But with this latest batch I intend to return the Canadian coins to the credit union in exchange for U.S. quarters. I assume that if enough people did this, the credit union would change suppliers, but I'm not sure that people have sufficient incentive to do so. In most cases, you could probably get away with spending these coins in a retail environment without the cashier noticing, but I don't generally pay with cash or coins, and the laundry machines reject the Canadian quarters.

Can anyone in the banking, minting, or coin rolling industry shed any light on such errors and how prevalent they are, how they are caught, and what incentives these companies have to ensure the coins are rolled properly? I mean, if my crappy laundry machine can detect and reject them, how come their fancy sorting and rolling machines can't?
posted by Nothlit to Work & Money (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I noticed the same thing starting a few years ago. I think the explanation is that people cheat ( either intentionally or not) when they roll coins to trade in at the bank. The only way to avoid this is to make sure that the coins you receive from the bank are fresh from the US Mint, rather than rolls traded in.
posted by pentagoet at 3:42 PM on September 20, 2011

I'd always heard that the bank weighed the rolls to make sure they contained the correct number of coins. And as far as I know, there's no supplier of rolled coins, the bank does it themselves, in addition to what customers turn in to the banks.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:53 AM on September 21, 2011

Well, here's the report after my visit to the credit union this morning.

The teller told me that they get their rolled coins "directly from the Fed". Customers are not allowed to deposit rolled coins; they have a coin counting machine in the lobby for customer deposits. So the rolls I got yesterday (apparently) did not come from customer deposits.

The teller seemed puzzled by this at first, and went back to speak with a manager. She came back out and initially told me there was nothing they could do -- I guess they thought I was trying to scam them out of less than $4. I asked what I was supposed to do with all of these Canadian quarters and she suggested I try to spend them in retail stores, which is absurd. If the bank won't accept them, why is it okay to try and trick retail stores into accepting them?

I pressed to speak with the manager, so she went back and talked to him again, and finally came back out and exchanged them for U.S. coins. I never did get to speak with the manager. I asked what I'm supposed to do in the future, and the reply was that I should open the rolls before leaving the credit union, otherwise there's nothing they can do. That seems ridiculous, but I guess it's what I'll have to do...
posted by Nothlit at 7:21 AM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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