Sunday, March 24, 2013

Penny matters

Canada has ditched the penny. 

This made significant economic sense but made many customers in 'Dollarama' very angry. 

The issue was that Canadian's smallest currancy denomination now costs more to produce than it's actually worth. That, and it really shouldn't be named after the subdivision of the British pound when the Canadian dollar is divided into cents. And it's not even accepted by vending machines.

In short, it was a bronze coloured abomination. 

So in May 2012, the penny birth rate dropped to zero and last month the Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing them, although they remain legal tender for anyone who was struggling to find ways to spend them.

You might think that --in the face of there being no 1 cent coin-- all prices should be given in multiples of 5c. And you'd be right... except for the tax.

Like the USA, Canadian prices are shown minus the sales tax, which in Ontario is a very unworkable 13%. Quite why prices are shown without the tax included remained a perpetual mystery to me during my time in North America. I rather thought that the point of a price tag was to tell customers how much they had to pay.

But no. That idea was clearly ridiculous.

As a result of this last minute addition, prices are rung up in the till as normal, usually coming to a price that isn't 5c compatible. The cashier therefore rounds to the nearest 5c, with the argument being that it all works out in the end. With the maximum loss being 2c, most of the population are singularly unfazed...

… with the exception of the patrons at 'Dollarama'.

Admittedly, with a name that reflected the average price of goods in the store, it is perhaps less surprising that 2 cents is a rather bigger deal here than elsewhere in town. Still, I was taken aback when it took over 20 minutes to buy a tube of toothpaste because the two people in front of me were protesting over missing pennies. A maths lesson concerning rounding ensued. I give each patron 3/10

And declare that 50%. 


  1. We lost our one and two cent coins years ago and I still get people grumbling over the rounding up that happens.
    Found a couple of coppers the other day in a money box and it was fun to show the kids the old coins

    1. That surprises me, because don't your prices include the tax? So can't they all be made multiples of 5 and no rounding needed?

    2. But why do things have to be multiples of five? Is there no two cent coin?