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One More Thing With the Cent
April 30, 2008

If you will permit me to mention the cent twice in one week, I have another observation to make about it.

I get mail and e-mails that repeatedly stress the point that if the cent is abolished and rounding is instituted, the rounding will always work against the consumer. Some statistical types have written in to say not so and then tried to prove the point, but most writers still feel in their gut that they are at a disadvantage without the cent.

How does experience enter into the question? Well, I know that merchants want to make as much money as possible, but does that mean rounding would always go against the consumer?

Look at the "Take-A-Penny" dishes. They are common around here. I assume they are common in other parts of the country. Merchants are using them in my experience to add the last penny or two to round off my purchase price. I assume it is the merchants themselves who are doing the stocking of these dishes.

I base that assumption on the fact of the surprised looks clerks give me when I from time to time throw a cent or two into the dish instead of putting it into my pocket.

For you see, if I am owed a penny, the merchant pays it to me. If I owe the penny, it comes out of the dish. It is always in my favor.

Would merchants behave so differently with rounding? They certainly want to make people feel good about buying things from them. Leaving customers muttering under their breath about unfair rounding would not contribute to that positive shopping experience.

There. I have had my say. What do you think?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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