Lighter coins present a costly hassle to businesses
Published Tuesday, May 1, 2012 8:33AM EDT
Retrofitting old coin-operated machines to accept Canada's lighter loonies and toonies is a costly task that could take at least a year to complete, a vendor warns.
Chuck Pifko, manager of Can-West Vending Distributors Ltd., estimates that 65 to 75 per cent of vending machines in operation are older ones which need adjustments.
"For large vending operators, this is costing them thousands of dollars," he said. Costs are expected to add up for businesses such as laundromats and convenience stores, which have dozens of coin-operated machines in operation.
It's a chore business owners say they've been forced to undertake since discovering The Royal Canadian Mint's upgraded coins are rejected by many older vending machines because they aren't as heavy as their predecessors.
Though the coins have been lauded as a way to save taxpayers money, business owners are on the hook for upgrading or replacing machines that don't accept the currency.
Most will have to dole out at least $45 to retrofit a single, older model machine, said Pifko.
He notes the process can be labour intensive, usually requiring someone to recalibrate each machine by hand and tinker with the parts until the lighter coins are recognized.
Pifko's business Can-West Vending Distributors, which started upgrading machines in September, is one of two machine vendors in Western Canada. He estimates it will take another year for the company to work through all of the adjustment requests they've received.
A message posted in large font to the company's website warns business owners: "Send your coin changers in now to avoid missing sales."
That's exactly what Hrant Setrakian, a longtime car wash owner in West Edmonton, says he'll need to do if he wants to continue doing business.
At his business, Zee's Car Wash, Canada's new loonies and toonies slip right through the coin-operated machines without being recognized.
Replacing the coin changers is a task that Setrakian estimates will cost him up to $5,000.
"It's just the cost of doing business, I guess," Setrakian concedes, though he admits he would have appreciated a warning.
Mint officials say they tried their best to tell Canadian business owners about the potential consequences of the new coins.
"You make a best effort to reach everybody but it's hard to get down to every last individual operator," said spokesperson Alex Reeves.
Canada's new loonies and toonies are manufactured at a facility in Winnipeg, and include features such as laser mark micro-engraving to battle counterfeiting.
Meanwhile, previous versions of the coins remain legal tender and will continue circulating, even with the release of their successors.
With a report from CTV Edmonton's Susan Amerongen