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Best Buy Has Man Arrested for Using $2 Bills 2088

Posted by Zonk
from the buyer-beware dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mike Bolesta of Baltimore thought he would protest Best Buy's not-so-great customer service and pay his bill with 57 $2 bills. For his trouble he got to spend some time in the county lock-up." From the article: "..Bolesta was contacted by the store, and was threated with police action if he did not pay the [installation] fee he was told before did not exist. As a sign of protest, Bolesta decided to pay using only $2 bills, which he has an abundance of because he asks his bank for them specifically. Unfortunately for him, the cashier did not seem to understand that the $2 bill is indeed legal US tender, since the bill itself is not often used. After rudely refusing to take the money, the cashier accepted the bills, only to mark them as though they were conterfeit."
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Best Buy Has Man Arrested for Using $2 Bills

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  • by Alaren (682568) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:23PM (#12182589)

    Wow.

    You know, that a Best Buy would have such an ignorant cashier (who now claims the bills were "smudged" and so "appeared to be counterfeit") does not surprise me in the least. It happens. Lots of people are stupid.

    What scares me (and surprises me a little, though less than it probably should) is that this guy made it all the way to the county lock-up on the suspicions of one cashier (who in all likelihood is little more than an overimaginative freshman from the local community college). Holding the "perp" in temporary custody right there at the store while someone examined the bills would probably have been going too far, but at least it would have been a semi-routine excersize in caution rather than time in a cell.

    IANAL and I don't know what makes for a good wrongful arrest suit, but I hope this guy gets something for his trouble. This kind of paranoia is disturbing enough among the unwashed, paranoid, intellectually barren cannon fodder of America; I would expect the full-fledged adults working in law enforcement to have significantly cooler heads.

    P.S. FP!?

  • The Two Dollar Man (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:23PM (#12182597)
    As a sign of protest, Bolesta decided to pay using only $2 bills
    Here is a link [www.gnn.tv] that doesn't require registration.

    Man what a rebel. Two dollar bills, can you believe it!

    I find this whole story hard to swallow, I worked at a grocery store all through high-school and I knew this guy who would pay in $2 bills all the time, I can't say it really bothered me other then there isn't a place in the till to put them.

    I find it hard to believe that someone has NEVER seen a $2 bill. It's not like they are hard to come across. Surely there must have been another reason for him being arrested...
  • by LivinFree (468341) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:24PM (#12182603) Homepage
    What kind of fool would allow that to happen? Is this just another excuse to dislike a major corporation because they obviously hired a moron?
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:28PM (#12182643)
    http://www.snopes.com/humor/business/tacobell.htm [snopes.com]

    At least Snopes got this right. The piece was originally written by a guy going by Captain Sarcastic (Kurt Koller) who had his own usenet group. I knew the guy back in the 80's and the story is precisely the kind of thing that happened to him (and it was his style of writing as well).

    He got quite upset when several sources borrowed it and attributed it to "anonymous" sources.
  • Re:It happens a lot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:33PM (#12182694)
    It did happen [snopes.com]

    It was first published on the net by Captain Sarcastic who ran alt.captain.sarcastic. It was borrowed by others and attributed to anonymous and other sources. I knew Captain Sarcastic at the time (actually, had known him for years) and he was quite upset about it all.

    I can't prove it happened, but Kurt Koller (AKA Captain Sarcastic) originally wrote it.
  • by sweetooth (21075) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:35PM (#12182716) Homepage
    Well not exactly. I believe it is the coinage act of 1967 (76?) that says vendors do _not_ have to take any form of legal tender if they disclose what they _will_ accept up front. If you attempt to pay with legal tender and are declined without them telling you they don't accept that form of payment up front they you are no longer responsible for providing payment. Interpretations of the law vary though.
  • On top of that... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:35PM (#12182719) Journal
    He was asked to come back to the store and pay the installation charge on the stereo he originally wanted, which was recommended in the first place, when this unit would not fit and a more expensive model was installed instead (he paid the difference). The store reneged on a verbal agreement that they would not charge him for installation because of the mixup.
  • by Y0tsuya (659802) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:36PM (#12182721)
    I'm not surprised either. Turnover rate is high and many of them are students working part-time. Once I had a cashier insisting that I present a photo ID along with my photo credit card. I politely pointed out that the whole point of having a photo on my credit card is so that I won't have to show my driver licence, which in my case is the same exact picture. "Store policy," she said, at which point I understood that she's a new trainee and must have felt it's better to be safe than sorry. So I showed my ID and everybody's happy. I guess my point is: try not to confuse the poor cashier.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:36PM (#12182729) Homepage Journal
    Not "finally". Americans have been ignorant for a long time. You know why one particular state [rattlesnakes.com] issues license plates that say "USA" on them? Because before they did that, their residents couldn't drive in other states without being pulled over and asked for their passports!
  • by Xoro (201854) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:36PM (#12182732)

    So the headline should say "BestBuy cashier broke the law".

    Legal tender here means not illegal. It's perfectly legal to not accept it, just like it's perfectly legal not to accept bills over $20, or whatever. And for what happened after, I don't think it's illegal to report what you think is a crime, even if it turns out not to be one.

    So stupid, yes, illegal, no.

  • Canadian quarters (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yo5oy (549821) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:40PM (#12182773)
    The bastards have no problem giving me Canadian quarters as part of my change. I haven't shopped at Worst Buy since they started "tracking" troublesome customers. You know the kind that returns defective merchandise or mails off for their rebates.
  • $2 Bill Story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Blind_Io_42 (821280) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:44PM (#12182818)
    A long long time ago in a state that isn't mine a town decided they did not like the military presence from the local post and made life difficult by hassling soldiers on pass. Come payday the post CO paid everyone in $2 bills, since it was an unusual denomination. By then end of the day the town found out how much money the post brought into their little town. And everyone lived happily ever after.
  • Re:On top of that... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WhiteDragon (4556) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:51PM (#12182886) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, this is the more annoying thing than the business with the $2 bills. Since they had a verbal agreement, he should take it to small claims court. They probably won't show up, and even if they do, the judge will probably find in his favor since they did say they would waive the fee.
  • 9/11?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by themoodykid (261964) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:51PM (#12182895) Journal
    Ha, the other day I was taking photographs of things in my neighbourhood on my lunch break. I was just snapping shots of random things and then decided to head back to work. On the way back, two officers approached me and asked for my ID and asked why was taking pictures of the police station. Turns out one of my shots happened to have the police station in the background. Anyway, I asked what the problem was and he said that they had to be extra vigilant in case of a *terrorist attack*. He then proceeded to write down notes on my facial features. He started questioning me about the other pictures I took, too. I stayed calm, but I was pissed off I was being treated like a criminal for doing nothing wrong.

    You know the saddest thing of all? This is all took place in CANADA! I couldn't believe a police officer would be afraid of a terrorist attack on his police station in Canada.
  • by WarmBoota (675361) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:52PM (#12182901) Homepage

    I suggest that concerned Slashdotter's everywhere protest this by stocking up on $2 bills. On a chosen day (how about a new-release Tuesday?), each individual should attempt to purchase an agreed upon CD (perhaps Britney Spears) and pay for it with the $2 bills.

    If the purchase actually succeeds, the purchaser should immediately go to the return desk and return the CD unopened for cash. Consider this a bonus protest against the RIAA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:53PM (#12182911)
    He falsely accused someone of trying to pass a countefeit bill. I'd say false statements covers his crime. And, yes, false statements to a police officer is a crime.
  • by orangepeel (114557) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:55PM (#12182934)
    Steve Wozniak has his own crazy story about using $2 bills at a Las Vegas casino [woz.org]. True or not, it's hilarious...

    After being detained and then asked for photo ID by a Secret Service agent, Woz hands over a fake ID that features himself as a "Laser Safety Officer".

    Wearing an eye patch.

    For the "Department of Defiance."

    It's probably one of the funniest stories I've read this year. Anyway, if you've never actually seen a US $2 bill, the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing has front and back images of $2 bills [moneyfactory.com] posted on its website.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:56PM (#12182939)
    I'm not surprised in the least bit.

    The location that the incident occurred at is down the street from work, so I know first hand that their customer service isn't first tier. I've had a bad service experience there, and refuse to buy anything from that location any more. A few of my co-workers seem to feel the same about the store. I have never had much of a problem with any of the other locations around the area, but that one seems to have an overly incompetent and rude staff.
  • Re:It happens a lot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zakezuke (229119) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:56PM (#12182940)
    Truthfully, I would find it strange as well. I have not seen a $2 bill in a long long time. Same thing with all those $1 coins. However, people tend to accept strange coin amounts a lot easier then paper money amounts.

    You tend to see the currency people saved up over the years at times such as these when the gas price doubles. At the local gas station someone filled up their truck with 60 Eisenhower Silver Dollars [maxen.net]. Cash registers don't have a coin slot for dollar coins even though we've had dollar coins for decades. They should have them, but they don't. They are less desirable for stores than Suzie Bs or Sacagaweas. Needless to say they did the polite thing, set them aside, and asked people if they wanted their change in bills or Silver Dollars.

    I kept them around long enough to see if any friends wanted them as I already had 20 of them. Not very rare or valuable, but still a cool thing to have, but eventually gave up and spent them. They got some odd looks, but I never had a problem with anyone taking it.

    What I don't understand is in the past stores had books which listed pictures of legal tender. I know I got odd looks spending one and two Canadian dollar bills in Vancouver, but after looking in their book they decided it was legal tender if a tad dated. These days I imagine one could publish a nice PDF file and have it accessible on the register it self.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:05PM (#12183021) Journal
    When I first arrived in the US I bought some stamps from a vending machine at the post office. It gave me change in the form of dollar coins. I couldn't spend them. People repeatedly told me that they'd never seen them before and couldn't accept them. When I found someone who would accept them they said "you shouldn't spend those, they're worth something". They came out of a vending machine. They're worth exactly what it says on them. I couldn't believe that I, a mere foreigner, seemed to know more about the local currency than the locals.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:15PM (#12183108)
    Even though coins are struck with "One dollar" right on the face, some people insist that they are quarters.

    That's because they're shaped almost exactly like quarters. Which is because vending machine industry lobbied the gov't to make them "compatible" with existing vending hardware. Partly because of this, nobody used the damned things and the vending machine industry ended up having to put elaborate and expensive bill readers on many machines.

    When I heard they were going to create a new dollar coin a couple of years ago, I thought: Great, now that they've learned their lesson, they won't put out a coin that is so easily mistaken for another denomination. I was wrong; now the vending machine industry wanted them to make the new coin exactly the same size and weight as the Susan B. to maintain "compatibility"! How stupid can they get? Now nobody uses the new one either.

    IMO, if they would just come out with a nice thick and chunky coin like the British 1 pound coin, one that has a nice feel when you plop it down on a bar and *looks* like it's worth more than other coins, then there would be no problem getting the public to use it. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to actually happen, though.

  • by krunk4ever (856261) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:26PM (#12183201) Homepage
    there was more than just the ink smearing. it was that plus the fact that the bills were in sequential order. the police weren't arresting him because they thought $2 bills didn't exist. they thought there was a likelyhood the bills were counterfeit given the fact that the ink smear AND the sequential #s.

    of course the poor guy explained he was a tour guide and often got stacks of $2 bills from the bank. even gave them the # of the bank to verify. best buys have horrible customer service. we all know that: http://www.bestbuysux.org/ [bestbuysux.org]. but it was the police response that was shocking.

    i guess in a town like bolesta, cops are in favor of retail stores more than the individuals since they probably pay more of their salary.

    here's an article from the local newspaper: A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill [baltimoresun.com]. might wanna goto bugmenot [bugmenot.com] to get a login to bypass registration.
  • by Thu25245 (801369) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:30PM (#12183236)
    Do you crave the cloying adulation people give you when you dazzle them with rarely-seen currency? Do you also pass around $.50 coins too?

    So what if he does? If it gives him his jollies, more power to him. It's perfectly legal and harmless.

    I don't know what's worse, some poor Best Buy employee not up to date on his currency or people like you that just have to have $2 and nothing else.

    Well, since the BB employee's job is to handle currency, and (s)he is apparently not doing it properly, I'd say that's worse.

    $1 and $5 are for the peons, it's $2 bills or nothing, eh?

    Poster never said that. You're putting words in his mouth.

    If loved ones give you fullscreen DVD's, do you feign enthusiasm and then later toss the perfectly good movie in the trash because it's widescreen or nothing, right?

    What does this have to do with anything? So the poster likes Twos. He didn't say that he only accepts Twos, or that he throws out all the Ones and Fives that he gets because it's Twos or nothing. He just said that, when he makes withdrawals, he specifies Twos.

    In the end it comes down to what do I dislike more, a cashier less than completely aware of all United States currency denominations or individuals such as yourself that inconvenience yourself and the bank you inconvenience just so perfect strangers can have one of your lucky special elite $2 bills.

    The banks aren't required to stock Twos. Plenty of banks don't, or so I hear, since there's so little demand for them. If a bank chooses to fulfil its customers requests by stocking the unusual currency, I wouldn't consider that an inconvenience, just good service.

    As for the cashiers, the Twos are legal tender. Frankly, I'd rather be paid with a dozen $2 bills than 24 $1 bills; it's that much easier to count. For that matter, I'd much rather get the Twos than 2400 pennies. Being a retail clerk has only two real requirements: collect the customers' money, and keep the customers sufficiently happy that they come back.
  • Re:It happens a lot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trepalium (109107) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:31PM (#12183248)
    These days I imagine one could publish a nice PDF file and have it accessible on the register it self.
    You could certainly try [computerbytesman.com], but an annoying number of printers would just spit out a tiny bit of the page and the URL http://www.rulesforuse.org/.
  • by sjames (1099) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:32PM (#12183252) Homepage

    He has a right to lodge a complaint against the police for a bad arrest, but does he really deserve some huge settlement for it? If he did win a lawsuit against the department it would just effect the taxpayers of that area.

    Probably not. However, since a judge probably can't yank the cops pants down and beat his butt red in court (preferably w/ news cameras rolling), it will have to do.

  • by Gabrill (556503) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:34PM (#12183266)
    And you would be the manager of what previously litigated store?

    The reason corporate payouts are so large is because corporations do not feel the weight of small disbursements. I swear corporations have more rights than actual citizens these days.

    A parking ticket can run $200. That's an entire week's take home pay for some people. You can bet they won't be parking there again. What's an entire week's take home profit for Best Buy? Don't you think that this guy was effectively slandered by the best buy representative, and that slander is worse than a parking tickit?

    Think about it.

  • by supersat (639745) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:36PM (#12183281)
    Many years ago, my parents took me on a tour of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In the building, they had a gift shop where you could buy all sorts of things. One of the things they sold was a sheet of uncut $2 bills. Apparently, you can now buy them directly from the government over the Internet [moneyfactory.com].

    In case you're wondering, they are indeed legal currency [moneyfactory.com]. I'd personally like to see someone try to pay with an entire sheet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:43PM (#12183322)
    I use them all the time. I keep a pile of them for when I go on trips. I even have an uncut sheet of them framed and hanging up in my office.

    The thing is that it gets you remembered when you leave them as a (good) tip at a resturant. My wife and I ate at a small diner twice in one year, and I left a two for the tip each time. (It was a 20% tip.) We went back a year later, and the lady remembered us.

    This year, my wife flew to a convention, and she gave the airport bus driver a $2 as a tip. Someone else on the bus, who knew us and our use of $2s later told us that the bus driver went on for another 15 or 20 minutes about the lady that gave him a two.

    Why did I start?

    A friend who was in the navy said that at one time when he was stationed there, Newport News, VA hated the navel base. They wanted to get rid of it. It was way too much trouble when an Aircraft Carrier came into port and 3,000 sailors hit the bars. The base commander knew he had a PR problem, so one day he paid all the sailors with stacks of $2 bills. That very day just about every store in the city was dealing with stacks of $2s. The police, the city management, and every shop keeper quickly found out that it was from the navy payroll. Message delivered: All that money comes straight from the navy. Do you want us to leave?

    PR problem solved.

    I learned that is was a fun way to be remembered and deliver a message on where your money is from.
  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:48PM (#12183359) Homepage Journal
    Actually, this is a commonly used practice in many ways.

    I know of a local labor union that had all of its members cash their paychecks with $2 bills, and encouraged its members to make purchases using them as a way to let the local retailers know how significant the local union membership was to the community.

    It was a relatively benign way to show the strength of its membership without having to do more silly things like go on strike or hold a protest, and it also garnered quite a bit of positive PR for both the union involved and the companies that they worked for. And more importantly, it put the merchants themselves quite solidly as supporters of the union, and some efforts that were being done politically to help keep the industry going (they were steelworkers).
  • by pete6677 (681676) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:58PM (#12183430)
    Best Buy would have no reason whatsoever to call the police in a case like that. If they give you something free, you leave the store, and they later want you to pay, too bad for them. Merchants threatening to call the police in order to collect a debt is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Act, which may apply here. There's something else this guy could sue for. When will people realize, Best Buy will keep doing shit like this because people let them. They will continue to stuff money in Best Buy cash registers no matter how poorly they are treated. Yes, it is possible to avoid them, I haven't shopped there in 3 years and I've bought plenty of electronics in that time.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:03PM (#12183472)
    No, in this case not buying at Best Buy is not the perfect protest. The perfect protest is for us to continue to buy at Best Buy, but pay ONLY with $2 bills and $1 *coins*.

    Although I would like to see the sexy redhead at the local store in Playboy...
  • The Insights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FLeiXiuS (825874) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:07PM (#12183487)
    The greatest thing of them all is that I work at the Best Buy where this happened. I was histerically laughing on the floor when I have read the article about it. It's absolutely funny. Unfortunately for Mike it's not to funny. We had the OPS hold him in our Sales Development Room where he was then questioned till the Secret Service arrived. The cashier near lost her job, I'm suprised she didn't. Coming from Baltimore, with Pimlico near by. Most race tracks around here use 50 cent pieces and 2$ bills. I'm suprised she didn't know. Oh well it was sure funny to read.
  • by dnoyeb (547705) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:10PM (#12183506) Homepage Journal
    I was locked up over something like this. The cashier thought I stole my mothers credit card. Which was a legitimate thought since it was reported stolen by my mother. So she decided to keep the credit card AND my drivers license. So I told her to just call the police and settle this now since I couldn't rightfully drive away anyway.

    To make a long story short the officers told me (as I was riding to the station) that in any case always make sure YOU are the one who called the police. They are almost always on the side of the person that placed the call. And yes I got to wear the sporty hand cuffs.
  • by _Ludwig (86077) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:14PM (#12183546) Journal
    Back in college, a local supermarket cashier, when handed a Susan B., asked "What is this, Mexican?" Which was especially surprising since not only had they been around for years but the supermarket adjoined a commuter rail station that had ticket machines that gave them as change; you'd think she would get them all the time.

    Another time at the same supermarket, my friend got carded. The cashier didn't recognize the out-of-state driver's license and got the manager, who examined it for a while before deciding: "MARY-land? No way." He'd never heard of the state of Maryland.

    That said, we should take care to remember that not everyone in low-level retail jobs is that stupid. Don't make people's sucky jobs worse by assuming they're morons.

  • by Decimal Dave (411182) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:15PM (#12183547)
    If the cashier had been correct and there never existed a legal 2 dollar bill, then the man with fake $2 bills would not be committing a crime by using them. You can't counterfeit a bill that doesn't exist. That's how people can pass a 3 dollar "bill" without breaking the law; the cashier would just unknowingly make a barter trade for the purchase.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot&stango,org> on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:18PM (#12183567) Homepage Journal
    I have no problem believing that Best Buy has employees who are ignorant of the existence of $2 bills, but the arresting officer must be the dumbest dumbass on two feet.

    Not only didn't he know that currency ink can indeed smear/rub off, but has also apparently never withdrawn money from a bank or bought anything at a store with cash. My local ATM is always giving me brand-new, sequentially-numbered $20 bills, and there have been plenty of times that the local convenience store has given me change in the form of brand-new, sequentially-numbered $1 bills. Furthermore, what counterfeiter in his right mind would fake a seldom-used denomination, AND use it to pay a debt to a merchant who had his contact information? The last thing counterfeiters want is to draw attention to themselves or leave a trail-- they want to spend their bills anonymously and with as little fanfare as possible, and vanish into the crowd.

    Just a little bit of reasoning on the part of the cop would have turned this incident into a non-event.

    I hope this guy sues the living shit out of Best Buy and the police department, and wins.

    ~Philly
  • Its your age (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bluGill (862) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:42PM (#12183737)

    I don't have a reference, but studies have shown that people tend to learn currency as a kid, and then don't bother learning again. What this means is that if you grew up before the Susan B. (or after it), you never learned to tell the difference. If you were learning your currency when the Susan B. was introduced (which I did, but there were only about 2-3 years where this would be true) you learned the difference between the Susan B and Quarter, and you can automatically tell without problem!

    That is one reason countries that introduce new currency tend to replace all the old ones at the same time (IE the Euro replaced a lot of different national currencies), it forces everyone to learn the new system, instead of being lazy and failing to shoe horn one new currency in with what they know.

  • by rapidweather (567364) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:03PM (#12183873) Homepage
    A few years back, Banks did have the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin [susanbanthonyhouse.org], and one could easily get a hundred or two of them for a purpose such as this.

    It is unfortunate for Best Buy that this happened to them, and got picked up on Slashdot. All because of the actions of one clerk. It could happen to any retailer, most of which are not of particular interest to those of us who work with computers, as a hobby, or for a living.

    One wonders where the manager was? I've shopped at Walmart, and the cashiers are backed up by watchful managers, right there, to prevent something like this getting out of control. Not only does the business have a right to a peaceful place in which to conduct business, but the shoppers do too. I would rather not go in a store, and come across a situation like this, that could escellate into a dangerous confrontation. That may have been why the man was arrested, not just because of the money.

    Imagine going into a computer store with a sackful of the Susan B. Anthony coins, and buying something. Most cashiers would just put up with you, and go ahead and accept your payment. But, a customer putting up a fuss while making a purchase, with an obvious delaying tactic such as unusual money, is out of line. On the cashiers side, they are held accountable for their cash-drawer, and they could be fired or forced out for shortages over time. So, they can get a little unhappy with customers that have a statement like this to present, at their expense, and the other customers waiting in the line.

  • by DarkSarin (651985) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:11PM (#12183922) Homepage Journal
    I wasn't aware that malice was a requirement for slander, but IANAL.

    That said, I feel (strongly) that it is the company's responsibility to ensure that their clerks are equipped mentally for a particular job--and accepting legal tender is part of their job. Being able to discriminate between fake money and real money is IMPORTANT!

    Second, I don't know if Best Buy's role was criminal or not, but I do think that the police officer could have handled this much more smoothly. With the bills being marked with a pen (which would change color if the bills were fake), she should have trusted the pen, or the cop should have said, "do you mind coming with me until I get this straightened out?" Not clap him in irons and haul him off. An officer should be able to make these calls, and should CERTAINLY be able to tell the difference between counterfeit and real.

    Yes, I would sue. And I'm sure that I would find a lawyer willing to take this one on. I think it is worth it.
  • by ameoba (173803) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:19PM (#12183975)
    Even better than that - a friend of mine, who lives in Washington, was visiting California a few years back and went into a bar and was carded. At the time WA still used printed & laminated cards while CA had switched over to newer cards where the info was actually printed onto a plastic card. The bartender insisted that his ID was fake and proceded to cut it up.

    Fortunately for my friend, a vacationing Washington State Trooper was in the bar and convinced the bartender to pay for the replacement card -and- cover my friend's party's tab for the evening.
  • by mactov (131709) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:23PM (#12184016) Homepage
    When I worked as a bank teller, an individual coming in with a bunch of bills with sequential serial #'s would have been a red flag. It practically shouts "STOLEN CASH."

    Granted, that teller job was 29 years ago, and things may have changed, but I can see it looking just weird enough to trigger caution on the part of the cops.

    The "I'm mad at the company, so I'm going to pay the minimum-wage cashier in something REALLY inconvenient" strikes me as a nasty, pointless way to get "revenge," and a useless form of protest.
  • by gozar (39392) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:46PM (#12184151) Homepage
    Coins are more expensive to make (both in material and actual money), are bulkier (this more difficult/expensive to ship) and heavy. So no, paper currency isn't likely to go anywhere.

    True, but a coin will last 25-30 years versus 18 months for a bill. I wish I could remember the figure for how much the government would save if they would stop printing the dollar and just use the dollar coin.

  • by tuatara222 (448203) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:50PM (#12184180)
    OMG...
    What a waste of time and energy... though I don't understand why someone would set out to do things like that (tossing dimes), unless that staff had really screwed with him somehow.

    I had to work a lot of retail jobs through all my degrees, and they are not a party to start with, without having to contend with behavior like that... =P

    On a more humorous note, one gig I had was waitressing in a small Middle Eastern restaurant in New Haven, and Mohammed would ding your paycheck for the amount of any error made on a customer's bill- regardless of whether it was in his favor or not. Only had that happen once or twice before my mental math skills became quite sharp, even at 2 AM! ;)
  • by pla (258480) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:52PM (#12184197) Journal
    The 50 cent piece hasn't been made in years, it has been phased out

    Funny, I have a few from 2005, one from 2004... No 2003s (not that they don't exist, I just don't happen to have any)... a few 2002, and dozens from years before that.

    The US also issued a large batch of $2 bills in 2003 (not sure if they did so since then).


    Personally, I enjoy paying for things in bizarre currency... a $2, a Sacajawea, and a Kennedy half, for a $3.50 tip. Things like that. It usually makes cashiers laugh, and I have yet to get arrested for it. Then again, I know better than to shop at Best Buy for anything... I think we can draw some pretty solid negative conclusions about the fellow involved from that fact alone.

    I have learned not to try to use SBA dollars anywhere but banks, however... Cashiers simply assume them as quarters without a second glance (which, AFAIK, caused their demise in the first place... What a dumb size, shape (milled edges), and color to make a dollar coin!)
  • by Manchot (847225) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:15PM (#12184356)
    When I was in high school, I worked at a local Target as a cashier. Though it was not required, I held all $50's and $100's up to a light, to make sure that they had the polyester strip. (The store didn't issue any special pens, so we had to do things manually.) Since I worked at an extremely busy store, I had already had a good feel for money, though.

    In the two years that I worked there, I accused exactly one person of counterfeiting. To me, the counterfeiting of the two fifties was obvious. I called my manager over to the lane, and was like, "I'm 99.9% sure that these are fake." She told me to take them anyway. About fifteen minutes later, after the line had died down, I took the bills over to the TPS (the security guy who stands at the front door). Sure enough, they were fake, and I got to go on record making my manager look like an idiot.
  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:28PM (#12184434) Homepage
    Apparently at the time McD's had a policy where they were much more worried if you had extra cash since it means you ripped off a customer
    I worked in the cash office at the local grocery store [heb.com] for several years. (Overall, I wasted six years at that place. Leaving was one of the best things I ever did.)

    There, we generally treated overages and underages the same -- if you're over $5, you got punished just like you would if you were under $5. (Though for an isolated incident, $5 was no big deal.)

    Amounts under $1 were considered OK and not worth any sort of write-up or anything. But even $100 wouldn't mean a lot of extra manager work -- just that we'd double check our counting of the till and that would be that. (The checker, on the other hand, would get in trouble for that much. Not fired, but trouble. They'd have to count their own till (the thing that holds the money) for a while and if their money control didn't improve, they'd get fired eventually.

    I tend to believe that we were more picky about who we hired than the local McDonalds -- certainly, we'd interview people and not hire them, and they'd appear at McDonalds. And we generally hired kids as baggers rather than cashiers, so we got a chance to know them before promoting them. So I'm guessing that McDonalds probably did NOT freak out about a till being $0.10 off, even if it happened every day -- otherwise, they'd be freaking out all the time.

    Last I heard, 8% of the US population had worked at McDonalds at some point in their life :)

    As for $2 bills, they showed up in the cash office on a regular basis, and I'd snag them (replacing them with 2 $1 bills, of course!) I used them for tips and the like, since they were a bit unusual. Hopefully no waitress thought I was giving her fake money :)

  • by Drishmung (458368) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:32PM (#12184462)
    At one time, he would have got the clerk hanged.

    Back when paper money was first used in Britain, passing conterfeit money was a felony.

    The punishment for a felony---any felony, was death.

    Some people were not happy with taking paper money, rather than good, solid gold sovereigns. So, refusal to take the new paper money was made an offence---was made a felony!

  • by rttichnor (708328) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:32PM (#12184467)
    there is a scam that starts with the phrase, "You've made a small mistake, you gave me too much money" .

    I was a waiter once. The scam starts out as stated, then the scam escalates by the scammer giving back some money and then saying "I've made a small mistake," . After a few of these 'mistakes' a cashier may be caught off guard, especially if the scammer is very friendly. The victim loses count and then the victim has lost some money.

    I can see why someone may have said what they said, especially if you asserted yourself as being friendly.
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:50PM (#12184566)
    Yes, but given that most things have to accept coins *and* bills, wouldn't it make more sense to replace low-denomination bills with coins?

    Visit somewhere in Europe and see how it makes sense.

    The fact is that northern Europeans like 1EUR coins and southern Europeans don't. Allegedly Italian (men) dislike coins because they cause their wallets to bulge and make their pants inelegant. The Italian are the best dressed people in the world so they care. But we're on /. so you probably wouldn't understand the word elegance outside a coding style context ;) The odd thing is that most Italians are poor moneyless cheap bastards so I see a contradiction in terms... Anyway.

    Before you moderate "-3 Insulting" you should know I'm Italian so I have a right to make these statements -although I should refrain from them.
  • Currency riddles... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pfhorrest (545131) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:32AM (#12184773) Homepage Journal
    Reminds me of a great riddle I heard once...

    Which TWO of these coins has NEVER been minted in the U.S.?

    Penny
    Two cent
    Three cent
    Nickle
    Dime
    Quarter
    Half dollar
    Dollar

    Most people will immediately say two cent and three cent, which you, Kula, would probably recognize as false.

    The correct answers are Penny and Nickle. No coins by those names have ever been minted in the United States. They are one-cent and five-cent pieces. :-)

    Another related joke:

    I hold in my hands TWO currently minted U.S. coins whose total value equals 55 cents. One of them is NOT a nickle (or 5 cent piece, for that matter). What are the two coins?

    People usually get stumped here, because the only combination is a 50 cent and a 5 cent. Which is the correct answer.

    One of them is not a nickle. That one is a half dollar. The OTHER one is a nickle. (Hey, I never said NEITHER was a nickle, just one of them...)
  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:04AM (#12184927)
    Being disgruntled is an arrestable offense now? How can it be because of a "combination" of the facts? The only thing that is remotely suspicious is the smudging. Since neither being disgruntled, sequential bills, or $2 bills are suspicious - then the idea that it was a combination of facts is absurd.

    Are coincidences illegal? If none of the facts are suspicious in their own right - then what magically makes them suspicious in combination?

  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:14AM (#12184982) Journal
    ... until the cashier and manager are fired, and Best Buy has paid Mr. Bolesta a large sum of money for his inconvenience.

    But ideally, the law would put the manager and cashier in stocks with a sign saying "Morons Of The Week" over them, and people (starting with Mr. Michael Bolesta and family) would be able to throw overripe tomatoes at them for an hour, and the results would be printed up in color in the local Sunday paper.

    Do you think that would be sufficiently humiliating to rein in rampant stupidity? I do.

  • by dmatos (232892) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @01:24AM (#12185050)
    I believe this type of scammer is called a "quick change artist." My mum has a great story about how she got taken for a couple of quid while working retail in London, only to take 10 pounds off the next guy that tried it by talking faster than him.
  • DC (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @02:07AM (#12185335)
    I've had to explain the concept of "The District of Columbia" to several bureaucrats. You'd think that bureaucrats would perhaps pray towards DC as the center of the ultimate practice of bureaucracy, but a surprising number of them haven't heard of it.

    "Where were you born?"

    "Washington, DC."

    "Washington? What city?"

    "Not Washington State. Washington, DC. The District of Columbia. Where the White House is. I was born down the street from the White House."

    "What state is that?"

    "The District of Columbia isn't a state, but it counts for one as a place of birth. Just write down 'DC'."

    "You weren't born in the US?"

    And so on...

    I lived for many years in Maryland, and had the same "MARY-land" experience. If I lived in a place named "Idaho" or "Utah", I'd think twice before making fun of the names of other places.
  • Re:9/11?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by issachar (170323) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @02:19AM (#12185375) Homepage

    bunch of screeching Christians like to pretend that they did

    That might be because the last time the government assured us that a new law wouldn't make someone compromise their religious principles that *promise* lasted only a couple of years.

    If you want the details, it was when the government, (or was it just our unelected supreme court decided to add "Sexual Orientation" to the list of things you were not allowed to descriminate on the basis of that are listed in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Well actually it was our unelected Supreme Court that decided to do this even though the people who'd written the Charter only a few years before had considered putting "Sexual Orientation" in the list and decided against it, but let's not get sidetracked).

    This was all fine and good, but some people had concerns that their religious convictions against homosexual lifestyles would be made illegal. (For instance a religious school might get shut down for refusing to hire a man in a sexual relationship with another man). The architects of our new world order assured us this was merely our stupid redneck paranoia getting the best of us and that we shouldn't worry, because our betters would make sure that religious freedom was protected.

    Some time later, a religious man [findarticles.com] in Toronto who owned a printing company was approached by an activist group [www.clga.ca] wanting him to print their letter head, business cards etc. The man refused because he felt it violated his religious conscience to use his resources to aid an organization that promoted ideas contrary to his beliefs. Rather than go to another printer muttering something about ignorant dumbasses, (as some people might do if their business was refused), the group decided to make a human rights complaint. (Human rights commissions are not courts of law incidentally, but their decisions have the force of law). The man was fined $5000 and was told that he was not allowed to refuse orders like that.

    A couple of other factors are interesting. This was in Toronto where there are many printers available, many of whom would have loved the business. It's not as if this action took away anyone's ability to actually get materials printed. Also, no one ever contested that the man did in fact serve gay customers and there was no suggestion that the man wouldn't serve people who were gay, merely that he wouldn't print materials promoting a homosexual lifestyle.

    Now I know nothing about the situation other than what I've read, but I do have a personal connection to the next case. (Albeit a distant one).

    A Christian man by the name of Chris Kempling [bcptl.org] teaches school in British Columbia. He wrote a letter to a local newspaper. (In fact he wrote one freelance column and six letters to the editor between 1997 and 2000). Dr. Kempler's views are so toxic that he addressed the UN on March 4th 2005 [catholiceducation.org] on the subject of Human Rights. The subject of of Dr. Kempler's letters were factual STD & promiscuity rates, that many religions consider homosexuality to be immoral, that it may be caused by negative psycho-social influences, and that it was nothing to be applauded. He did not express these views in the classroom, or in the staff room, but only in the editorial pages of the local newspaper. In 2002 he was suspended by the BC College of teachers. The suspension was upheld by the Supreme Court of British Columbia in last year.

    My tenuous connection to this case is that a co-worker and friend of mine knows him personally and his father helped Dr. Kempler in his defence. (Unsuccesfully). The accounts I have heard is that Dr. Kempler is reasonable and does not descend to nasty behaviour. (Most certainly not a "redneck").

    So I think you can see why

  • Re:The Insights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @02:56AM (#12185506)
    Can you explain why, as some of the articles say, the store at first waived the installation fee, then called him the next day demanding that he pay it after all, even threatening to call the police, despite the fact that, as he tells it, it was the first time he'd heard that he needed to pay it? That's the part of this story that really bugs me. Is that standard practice at Best Buy or something?

    If a store threatened me like that, I'd be pissed, probably much more than if they called the cops because the ink smeared on a bill I gave them (a part of the story everyone seems to be missing -- it wasn't the $2 denomination alone that caused suspicion).

    BTW, check out Woz's $2 bill stories [woz.org]. He buys them in perforated sheets from the U.S. Treasury, and leaves them on the sheets. People really have a hard time believing they are real when he pulls out the sheet.

  • by stevejsmith (614145) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @03:14AM (#12185574) Homepage
    I live in Romania, and until July we'll still be using the old Romanian leu - that is, ~30,000 lei to the dollar, ~40,000 to the euro, etc. All of this inflation has made coins utterly useless (the only to moderately circulated denominations are 500 and 5000, both fairly useless in a country whose prices are slowly catching up to the EU's prices), and I must say that I prefer is to the American and European systems of coins galore. So much easier to handle. You can carry as much money on you as you want (although, actually, the bills are larger and more thick, for sure, as well as being hideously covered with some plastic-esque substance) and it's never too much for your waller (not to mention that no wallets in the US have coin holders, making it a pain in the ass to keep track of coins).
  • by Sancho (17056) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @04:22AM (#12185857) Homepage
    I worked in a small-town movie rental store where we had the owner, one manager, and the slave labor. The slave labor that counted out money was based solely on seniority.

    The policy was $5 over or under and we had to call the manager at home (at 11pm) to come re-count. Neither employee could leave until this was done, and the manager was not known for being speedy.

    Most of the time, for significant overages or underages, the counter would just pocket the money or pay out of pocket to avoid calling the manager. There were lots and lots of $4.90-$4.99 miscounts, which led to the manager making a sting. He intentionally put far too much money in the till at the beginning of the day just to catch the counter in the act. From then on, there were spot-stings, so even if we counted out at $5.01 over or under, we called him.
  • by Sancho (17056) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @04:45AM (#12185927) Homepage
    Answers [answers.com]

    In a nutshell:
    The $2 is rare, so many people save them. This increases the rarity. The initial reason they are rare appears to have to do with the bills being unpopular, although there is no known reason for why this is.

    My guess is that it's an odd denomination. The $1 makes sense because it's atomic (at least, as far as dollars go--of course you can divide them into cents). $5 is good because it accounts for several $1 bills, in essense saving space in your wallet. The rest of the bills follow this pattern, each one saving more space when compared to ones (though obviously less space when compared to the next lowest denomination). But what does a $2 bill save you? It's half the space in your wallet, true, but it just doesn't compare to the $5, $10, $20.. jumping up in the denominations just seems to make more sense (though the $20->$50 jump is certainly strange).

    Interestingly, for a long time, race tracks had minimum bets of $2. This made $2 bills popular in those areas because they made for easy bets. This might also account for the $1 bill's popularity in modern times, where, despite 10-10-220's assertions to the contrary, you can get something for "a buck". Many US fast food restaurants have "dollar" menus (although they tend to be more like $1.08 menus--and $1.08 would be awful for a bill denomination).

    In reality, what does it matter? I like $2s because of their rarity and scarcity, and because I tend to get odd looks when I spend them. I've never been turned down, but I have seen people ask for confirmation by other employees/managers.
  • by jonadab (583620) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @08:03AM (#12186526) Homepage Journal
    > I had to work a lot of retail jobs through all my degrees, and they are not
    > a party to start with, without having to contend with behavior like that...

    Recounting a drawer is not the kind of chore that makes a fast food job hard.

    Granted, it's mean to cause somebody extra work on purpose, but tossing an extra dime in the drawer is minor compared with the people who deliberately smear stuff all over the mirrors and other fixtures in the bathroom (a semi-regular occurance when I worked at T. Bell), or the people who come in five minutes before close, sit near the door for forty minutes, and keep opening it for anyone who wants in until you want to throttle them, or the employees who hide from work by going in the back and finding things (e.g., trays hamburger buns) to poke holes in with a pencil (one hole per bun, right through the plastic bag and into the middle of the bun -- the manager was less than amused when we discovered that one in the morning).
  • by borgheron (172546) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @08:28AM (#12186656) Homepage Journal
    There are a bunch of "Best Buy" stores here in MD. It might be fun to organize a protest where everyone goes in a pays with $2 bills for everything for a whole day. :)

    Later, GJC
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 09, 2005 @12:13PM (#12187818)
    Cashiers and bartenders and the like tend to hate the two dollar bill because they are too easy to mistake for a twenty, especially in a busy place where the lighting may not be all that great. If they get them they tend to put them into their deposit and the accounting office sends them back to the bank.
  • Re:In Good Company (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SteveWoz (152247) on Saturday April 09, 2005 @04:41PM (#12189143) Homepage
    Not only that, the security guy who had called the Secret Service had previously determined and told me that the bills were good after I had asked whether they were counterfeit. This security guy at the Hard Rock Casino said that they had the 'fibers' and had passed the pen test. So the SS guy forced me into questioning, after reading me my Miranda rights, for bills he knew were good. But if I'd protested they'd have held me for 72 hours. Instead of risking that I plopped a ridiculous phony ID on him and he bought it, earning him a place in my book someday.

    Just the authority and appearance of a big title like FBI or SS is enough to throw your weight around in ways that normal police could not. You can do anything you want and there's virtually no way to be questioned.
  • $2 mania (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dcxdan (873536) on Sunday April 10, 2005 @12:12AM (#12191318) Homepage
    On spending all those $2 bills at Best Buy - Well, I spend $2 bills all the time for the fun of it. The cashiers at Wendy's seem to get the most confused. One time the cashier looked at my $2 and then went to ask the manager if they took these coupons. Of course living in the Detroit area with Canada right across the river, I once got a comment from a lady in a dollar store who said "Oh, we do not take Canadian money" Yes, I am sure, just look what it says on the bill - United States of America. I even had one lady start to give me change as if it was a $20 bill. Anyway, all the bills I get are brand new and very crispy, so most times I just say something like "I just printed it up for you this morning"
  • by Neoprofin (871029) <neoprofinNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Sunday April 10, 2005 @01:38AM (#12191603)
    I would have refused to take it back. Our company (Target) was far more suspicious of people opening the cash drawers without making a sale then of registers coming up short on change. So much so that they didn't actually count the change, but any time the command was entered to force open the drawer it ends up on a report looked at by Assets Protection.

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