Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Coin shortage affects consumers


Last updated 8/5/2020 at 1:15pm

News photo by G. Connor Salter

Signs such as this one at a Fountain convenience store are popping up around the area and the nation.

On July 19, a Widefield resident went to the Burger King on Highway 85/87 and paid $7 for a $6.47 order. After getting the food she was informed employees were not giving out change. The customer says she asked for a dollar back so she could give 47 cents, but the manager said the sale was final and that she could not open the cash register to make that exchange. This kind of situation is happening across the nation as businesses face a coin shortage.

An employee with UMB bank explained that coins go through a particular cycle. The U.S. mint issues coins and sends them to banks, who distribute coins to customers. Customers use the coins for various transactions which eventually bring the coins back to the banks, who then send damaged coins to the Federal Reserve. The reserve refurbishes those coins and puts them into paper rolls alongside new coins, then the rolls go to the banks and the cycle starts over. However, during the business shutdown period, closed banks and businesses were not collecting coins from customers, causing a break in this cycle. Since the reserve can't print extra coins without devaluing existing ones, the supply cycle will be limited until bank customers start dropping off change again.The UMB employee recommended that people contact their local bank about depositing coins as soon as possible.

This reporter interviewed several local businesses on July 24 to see when they had heard about the coin shortage and its effect on them. The manager at Last Drop Coffee says she only heard about the problem recently from several gas stations. She also said she's been fortunate in that one customer recently came in with rolls of coins to help her business.

An employee at the Kum & Go on Fountain Mesa said they began hearing about the shortage about two weeks ago. At that time, the store received a notification from its corporate offices, and a sign asking to give exact change.

"It's definitely hit us pretty hard," she said. She also stated that employees have been buying change from customers by exchanging coins for bills or having costumers pay for regular items with change.

The manager of a local liquor store (who wishes to remain anonymous) said that while she hasn't had to develop an exact change policy, she's having trouble getting change from other places.

"We are noting that banks are not giving out change," she observed. She cited several occasions where bank employees gave her money entirely in bills, and when asked told her that they were not able to give money back in nickels or quarters. The manager also said she's had similar encounters at local retail stores, where employees said they could not give change.

Meanwhile in Security, the operation manager of SS Subs said that he's been hearing about the shortage for the last month or so and that as a result "we've been limited on what we can receive from our own banks."

"We've been fortunate to have employees and family members who have change, so we've been able to use our own stockpile," he added. He said the store started doing this two and a half weeks ago.

Adah Rodriguez, vice president for development and operations at the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado, said her organization has not yet received any complaints about consumers not getting change. However, she said the BBB has been expecting such complaints with the coin shortage going on. She also noted that the BBB encourages people to file complaints or at least reviews of the businesses if such activity takes place. To leave a review of a business on the BBB website, go to To file a complaint, go to


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