You go to a store, and buy your things. You check out, and you don't have more than the total. note
Instead, you must pay in exact change, but all you got is a really huge
number of coins. This is either used as a last resort without going in debt, Just for Fun
, protesting the recipient, or as a metaphor of something. The clerk can either try to count all of it
, or trusts the customer
and accepts the coins.
In reality, we've found methods of exchanging large sums of money without actually presenting large sums of money. For instance, you get a mortgage to buy a house. You get a paycheck every week, not $300 in cash per week. You have cashier's cheques to move large sums of money from one bank account to another. However, if you walk into a car dealership and offer to buy a car on the spot without financing, holding fists full of $100 bills, then this trope comes into effect.
On more expensive things, such as a luxury yacht
, a Briefcase Full of Money
can be used instead if a Zillion-Dollar Bill
isn't available. May be the result of Ridiculous Future Inflation
and Ridiculous Exchange Rates
. Cheap Gold Coins
is a related trope. Truth in Television
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- In the German comic strip Oskar, the family uses pennies to pay for their new car. It's The Alleged Car, but still.
- On The Coneheads, Prymaat zaps a vending machine and they use the quarters to pay for a motel room.
- In The People Vs Larry Flynt, Flynt paid a $10,000 contempt-of-court fine by having two hookers bring a garbage bag full of one dollar bills into the courtroom.
- In The Hebrew Hammer, Mordecai finds himself in Duke's, a skinhead bar, while chasing a lead. Amusingly, the racist bartender has a bottle of the Jewish wine Mordecai requests and he repays the bartender's naked loathing with a handful of shekels dropped onto the countertop.
- A man drinks a beer in a bar, is unhappy about the service and pays the 2.50 in pennies. The barkeeper can't do anything about it, since the amount isn't big enough, but secretly swears revenge. Months or years later, the man returns, has forgotten about everything, and orders a beer. This time, he pays with a 5$ (or €) note. The barkeeper uses the opportunity to give him the change in pennies. The man remembers now, but just shrugs: "I think I'll have another beer, then."
Live Action TV
- An episode of Seinfeld had Kramer collecting change to use the apartment's dryer so his clothes would be warm when he got dressed. Then, after deciding to use Jerry's oven instead, tries to pay for George's calzones with loose change, pissing off the store owner. The episode's stinger has him paying a debt by tossing a pillowcase of coins at someone, knocking them over.
- Invoked on iCarly. Carly, Sam and Freddie agree to promote a new sneaker on their show, and got paid $8000 a week. They were to be cut a check, but Sam then insisted on cash. Cue a bunch of ad executives digging in their pockets for $8000 in bills. When they got bought out of the contract for $30,000, Carly then insists on being paid in cash.
- In an old episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ted owes Murray a few dollars, and keeps putting him off by asking if Murray has change for a $500 bill. At the end of the show, Murray indicates he does this time...in nickels. The bags come out from under the desk...
- In Happy Endings, Max has to pay rent in pennies, pouring them out of a jug into the landlord's desk, because he had no job. At the end of the episode, he offers to pay for dinner after winning a lot of money, but pours out pennies from the same jug, because "pennies are the only currency I trust."
- In one of Jinnai Tomonori's comedy skits, he gets fed up with his bank's crazy and uncooperative ATM, so he decides to just withdraw all his money and close his account. The ATM obliges by dispensing his 1 million yen in coins.
- In The Goon Show episode "The Canal", Bluebottle (as the accredited agent of Lloyds of London) arrives to pay out insurance of £40,000 — in pennies, counted one by one. He gets as far as 4,000,832 pennies (roughly £16,670) before Eccles drops the hat he's counting them out into, and has to start again.
- In the Shadowrun universe, the Great Dragon Lofwyr buys the majority of heavy industrial corporation Saeder-Krupp stocks with gold from his hoard, although it isn't specified if it's tons of gold coins or in another form.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In 1st Edition, a gold piece is worth 200 copper pieces. Many monster treasures have thousands of almost worthless copper pieces. Since moneychangers often charge a significant fee (e.g. 10%) for changing copper pieces into higher denomination coins, a PC might decide to pay for a purchase with bags full of coppers, providing they have the means to carry so much weight around.
- A module for Edition 3.5 has an example where doing this is to your advantage. You run across some barbarian halflings who use a barter system — which means 1 gold piece (weighing about 1 third of an ounce, or 7.5 grams) is not much use to to them. However, the equivalent in copper pieces (100cp = 1 gp in this edition) means 2 pounds of metal they can melt down and use.
- One The Order of the Stick strip in Dragon has Haley claim that copper pieces are almost entirely useless (mostly to trick Belkar into leaving them for her to stuff in a Bag of Holding). An Imagine Spot shows an adventurer with a huge heap of copper pouring off a table and pooling around his feet, attempting to buy a single potion from a very unimpressed shopkeeper.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, this seems to crop up when you buy more expensive items (such as houses in Oblivion and Skyrim). Since there is no higher integer to the currency than the septim [gold coin], you would be dumping at least 5000 coins in the lap of the local steward just to get a foot on the property ladder.
- The player can invoke this trope in Odin Sphere. You have to manually select the coins you want to pay with when buying things. The coins vary from the cheap Ragnanival Silver (worth 1G) to the rare and valuable Commemorative Coin (worth 20G). It's possible to buy expensive things and pay them with a truckload of Ragnan Silver.
- The Pooka restaurant and cafe also only accept Valentinian coins on top of that, along with a specific type of Valentinian coin (of which there are three) depending on the dish you're ordering.
- There is actually a point to this: stacks of coins take up valuable inventory space. Getting rid of your small change, and overpaying by a round value to get higher denominations back, is crucial until larger backpacks become available.
- A satire site claimed that Samsung paid off its $1.05 billion fine to Apple by sending them dumptrucks full of nickels. http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/samsung.asp
- This YouTube channel has videos of services being paid in pennies.
- A joke about this features in this Cracked TV episode.
- Entry #7 in Cracked's photoplasty contest "20 Tiny Changes That Would Ruin Famous Technologies" features a cash machine from which money is withdrawn as a bucketful of pennies.
- When Strong Bad stumbles upon the Compe in a catalog, he immediately pulls out his bag of 80,000 pennies to pay for it (it crushes his mailbox).
- Super Playify: Convictor complains about (in-game) being paid in one-dollar bills.
- A Warner Bros. cartoon named Little Man, I've Had a Busy Day details all of the annoyances a 1950s housewife had to go through. One of them was going to the bank and having an old woman deposit a large amount of money in pennies. The housewife switches to another line when it clears up, only to get behind another old lady doing the same thing.
- Done in an episode of Family Guy where Stewie is held up in line in a supermarket due to Bruce, after done quibbling over having one item over the 10 Items Or Less limit, asks to pay for it all in pennies.
- Apparently the catalyst for a deep seated grudge by the Ice Cream Man in Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter pays for an ice cream (the most expensive one on stock, by the way) with a ridiculously large jar of pennies, an accident with which manages to systematically ruin the Ice Cream Man's entire life. After the Ice Cream Man explains this to Dexter and the latter apologizes, Dexter buys a regular ice cream (which costs $1)... and pays with a $100 bill. The Ice Cream Man's anguished shriek says everything.
- There's another Dexter's Laboratory example that closes the episode "Repairanoid". Although the electrician's $40,000 bill shocks Dexter's mom (she didn't know about Dex's Lab or the repairs the electrician did there) at first, she quickly shifts to an agreeable tone and takes out her purse to pay — by withdrawing coins one at a time and counting them. The electrician doesn't protest.
- On The Simpsons, Homer once tried to pay a $900 gas bill by sending a water-cooler bottle full of pennies in the mail. When he puts it down next to the mailbox, it falls into the earth.
? A little help?
- Another instance, although offscreen: The family pays for a doghouse from the change inside a Swear Jar.
- Bart pays for his fat camp with two bags of change from some vending machines.
- Homer buys a motorhome with the change from a savings jar Marge started. How they did it wasn't shown.
- A Christmas Episode of Arthur had the title character paying for his mom's present out of a coin jar. The cashier fell asleep waiting for him to count it all out.
- Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force tried to pay for a hooker's services with a giant jar of pennies, since there was nothing saying he couldn't. He gets knocked out a moment later by the Phlebotinum of the episode. The hooker leaves, dragging the jar of pennies with her.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Sponge-Cano", a customer try to pay for his Krabby Patty with pennies. Squidward doesn't let him. (He was in a real bad mood)
- In another episode, Mr. Krabs hospital bill was paid entirely in the coins he stole throughout the episode. A case of Laser-Guided Karma, as those coins caused him to go to the hospital in the first place.
- In an episode of Johnny Bravo, a demon tries to get Johnny do some evil deeds, including going into an 10 items or less line at a grocery store with 11 items and then paying in Canadian pennies. This plan backfires though as one of the pennies is a rare coin that the cashier has been trying to find her whole life.
- Wander over Yonder. In the episode "The Nice Guy," Wander is in a convenience store, buying a drink for Sylvia, and tries to pay for it with hundreds of pennies that he kept in his shoes.
- Some places only accept coins, like arcades and laundromats. Usually, if they want you to do this trope, it's in quarters. They should have a change machine too.
- Coinstar will accept this trope. It turns your coins into bills, so you can avoid this trope. Of course, it does this at a rather hefty fee...
- Unless you accept the amount placed on one of a variety of gift cards.
- Some banks have machines like this which also turn coins into bills but for free if you have an account there.
- Averted in real life for the most part. Most countries have laws that allow retailers to reject payments if they involve too large a volume of small denominations. Should someone do this, it is illegal.
- For example, in Canada, one could only require a payee to accept up to 50 cents in pennies.
- Averted in general in the United States. There is no law says it is illegal to use small denominations in large quantities, but neither is there is a federal law that requires merchants to accept any and all denominations (some states do, though). This means people, businesses, and organizations (including government entities) can refuse payment in a legal transaction using legal tender as a matter of policy (toll booths not accepting pennies, convenience stores not accepting bills larger than $20, etc). This also means, for example, it is legal for someone to only accept gold or even Beanie Babies as payment if you want to buy something from him - you cannot make him accept you pennies or $20 bills.
- Paul Brant of Indiana paid for a new truck with jars of change accumulated over the course of his life; the dealer couldn't be compelled to accept the coins, but could choose to, and did, on the grounds that the publicity would be worth the inconvenience.
- On the other hand, this trope can be played straight (at least in the US) for a debt that has already been incurred (this is the significance of the Legal Tender status of currency—as quoted on all bills: "This bill is Legal Tender for all debts, public and private."). If you already owe someone money and he doesn't accept your legal tender, he risks having the whole debt cancelled. For example, restaurants that don't collect payment until after you finish your meal cannot refuse your offer to pay cash and insist you pay in, say, gold - if they did, you could bring them to court and the judge would have the debt dismissed because your valid payment offer was refused. This is why you hear stories of disgruntled taxpayers paying their bills in coins - it is a perfectly valid form of payment to a debt-holder (in this case, the IRS) because the debt existed a priori.
- There is a case of a man in Utah who paid a disputed $25 bill with a clinic entirely in pennies. He was cited by the police for disorderly conduct, but only because he intentionally spilled them all over the counter and on the floor, scaring the crap out of everyone - the actual payment of the bill in pennies was perfectly legal.
- This works in reverse as well: if a good cashier is being put upon by an absolutely terrible customer, the cashier can take vengeance by administering what's known in the United States as "the penny treatment", which is giving the customer his exact change — entirely in the lowest possible money denomination, typically counted out individually. The change legally counts as debt owed by the store to the customer, so the store via the cashier is legally allowed to settle the debt this way. However, unless the customer was being excessively abrasive (at which point a store could simply refuse to close the sale and eject the customer, meaning no money changes hands), it's considered bad form to do so since the customer could refuse to return and start up a social media storm about the incident.
- Supposedly, there have been people who paid their taxes in pennies.
- A French example from 2012, a man protested against a tax rise by paying his taxes with 50kg of 1, 2 and 5 cent coins. He was apparently helped gather the coins by the other inhabitants of his town, "amused" by the prospect.
- King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a big fan of Richard Wagner. His subjects, even the ministers, didn't share his love. When the king ordered that Wagner should receive a great sum of money for support, the responsible man paid him in silver coins. Several sacks of them. Wagner was enraged and demanded that the whole cabinet would step down.
- In Germany, there's the custom that a bride will pay for her shoes in pennies. note The problem with this: When this custom developed, this would amount to some hundred pennies. Nowadays, with the inflation, ten thousands aren't impossible.
- British regional councils got so fed up with people making points, or paying disputed bills or local tax money under protest, by bringing a wheelbarrow full of small coin to the tax office, that they are now exerting their common-law right to refuse the method of payment. If the citizen then retorts that he has offered payment and it's not his fault, the council refused to accept it, test cases have been brought to court and established that the citizen is still guilty of non-payment or late payment, and fines have been imposed.
- The legal tender law in the UK (as of 2013) states that the following payment for a debt that has already been incurred must be accepted:
English banknotes - £50, £20, £10, and £5 - in any quantity. Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes are not legal tender, but may be accepted at the creditor's discretion. note
Coins valued at £5, £2, and £1 in any quantity.note
50p and 20p coins up to £10-worth of each.
10p and 5p coins up to £5-worth of each.
2p and 1p coins up to 20p-worth of each.
Bullion coins may also be legal tender, but will be accepted at their face value, not on the actual value of their precious metal content.
- America's Dumbest Criminals relates a story in which the girlfriend of an accused vending machine thief comes to the station to pay his bail... entirely in quarters.
- Before 2010 (with the introduction of the 50,000 Won bill): The South Korean Won is at approximately 1,000 Won = $1 US. Unfortunately, the largest size bill available to the general public is 10,000 Won, which with the varying exchange rates tends to be about an $8~$11 bill at most. Now Korean landlords, instead of monthly rents, prefer rentors to give them a large interest-free loan up front, in cash...So every year to two years, a number of Americans are seen with large brown paper bags full of 10,000 Won bills.
- When Rupert Murdoch bought John D. Rockefeller's mansion for 44 million USD in 2005, he paid in cash, thereby cementing his status as the closest thng to a James Bond villain we'll ever get in real life.