Dissing the dollar! - Downtown Kingston wholesales reject $1 coins
Several wholesales in downtown Kingston are rejecting $1 coins as payment for goods, declaring the legal tender unacceptable in their facilities.
"Go throw them weh; nobody no want them," declared one wholesale operator on East Queen Street when a member of our news attempted to pay 35 $1 coins for an item.
"I don't owe you any explanations," growled the woman of Asian descent when asked for an explanation as to why she would not accept the coins.
It was a similar story for more than half the other wholesales in the business district as they declined the dollar as payment for items valuing between $35 and $40.
One worker in a wholesale declared that her boss had a policy that he does not take $1 coins. "No, sah. Him not taking it," the woman said while pointing to a man seeming of Asian descent.
He ignored The Sunday Gleaner's query as to why he does not accept $1 coins.
One person who was in the wholesale at the time charged that the operators, who are mainly Chinese, do not want to accept the coins because "them don't want to bank them money so them no want the heavy silver (coins)".
Under the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Act, coins are legal tender of payment of an amount not exceeding the face value of a maximum of 50 coins in any combination of denominations.
Last week, the BOJ reiterated that "coins are a legitimate means of settling small transactions and are, by law, legal tender for payment".
According to the BOJ, it stands ready to exchange coins for notes whenever persons accumulate more coins than they deem necessary to keep for daily transactions.
"And we redeem coins for merchants and individuals on a regular basis. We will continue to inform the public as to the provisions of the law with respect to legal tender, and stand ready to facilitate the issue and redemption of notes and coins as demanded by the public," said the BOJ in response to The Sunday Gleaner queries.
However, the BOJ pointed out that not being a law enforcement agency, it is not able to compel business operators to accept the various denominations.
The bank said it would encourage consumers to exercise their options and seek out those businesses that will accept coins as means of payment within the limits.
That recommendation was echoed by the country's two leading consumer protection agencies, which are urging Jamaicans to boycott stores which refuse the $1 coins.
"Although this is a consumer matter, as it relates to the rights and responsibilities of the consumer, what I can say to the consumer is to exercise your right and find an establishment that will accept the number of coins as stipulated by the BOJ," said Latoya Halstead, director of communications at the Consumer Affairs Commission.
"Where you are not getting proper service and where the laws are being flouted, exercise your choice by using your feet. If enough consumers do that they will have no choice but to change their stance," added Halstead.
Fair Trading Commission executive director, David Miller, agreed, as he noted that although the law instructs that a certain number of coins be accepted, there are no sanctions stipulated for those who fail to comply.
"The law says you shouldn't do it but there is nothing that issues any penalty on them or anything like that," said Miller.