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Not Accepting Cash

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Albeaver89 Posted: Wed, May 2 2012 3:16 PM

So this was a first, I went with my girlfriend to the Ball State Tech Store to buy a copy of Microsoft Office. They said that they do not accept cash, I thought that was illegal under US Tender laws, the guy next to us argued for us also. We ended up having to give him cash and he ut it on his card. I just never heard of this before and wondered what you guys thought....

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I've wondered this myself.  Is it legal for them to deny me service based on the money that I am trying to use?  Places can refuse to accept bills of a certain size, a bar in my town doesn't accept pennies (even on 15 cent point night), I hear people say that you cannot shop with gold or silver coins even if the owner were to consent to the transaction, etc.

Is it legal?  Can they say we only accept VISA if they wanted to (I am aware of the consumer diminshment this would entail)?  Those legal tender laws only really mean that you can pay taxes with them right?

"The Fed does not make predictions. It makes forecasts..." - Mustang19
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Technically they can refuse to sell you something.  However, if you are in their debt, they must accept the currency.  In other words, you can take a copy of Microsoft Office to the counter and they can refuse to trade.  However, if you eat a meal at a restaurant and attempt to settle the bill with cash, they can't demand you pay using some other method.

The legal tender laws (in fact, the cash itself) says "legal tender for all debts public [taxes] and private [your meal]".

As far as the pennies thing, I don't think any US coins have that phrase on them, and I'm sure there's some court precedent on it somewhere.  (Hell, there's actually Supreme Court cases on categorizing meals as a business expense.)


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Dept. of Treasury:
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.

faber est suae quisque fortunae

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Well there you go.  "All debts public and private" means "Some debts public and private."  Par for the course, government.


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Clayton replied on Wed, May 2 2012 8:42 PM

All debts, I mean, some debts, er, all debts, I mean, who are you and why are you bothering me?
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