A local retailer has been accused of exploiting a little-known law regarding the acceptance of coins as legal tender for retail items. As revealed over the weekend, an Adelaide mother was recently shocked when a convenience store refused to accept her $10 worth of 50-cent coins to pay for some milk and bread.

Apparently the store had solid legal grounds to knock back the fistful of shrapnel, with the Australian Currency Act of 1965 ruling that coins are not legal tender when they exceed:

  • $5 if any combination of 5-cent, 10-cent, 20-cent and/or 50-cent coins are offered
  • 10 times the face value of the coin if $1 or $2 coins are offered.

Still with us? Well, the law means that you can’t pay someone more than $5 in silver coins, and you can’t pay more than $10 in one-dollar coins or more than $20 in two-dollar coins. Ultimately the decision of whether the retailer accepts the payment is at their discretion, which seemed to be the case when an anonymous Greensborough retailer recently refused to accept $13 in one-dollar coins as payment for goods and/or services.

The scorned customer was so outraged that they contacted The Watsonia Bugle to share their tale of woe. Requesting that their name not be published with the story, the customer said, “You could’ve knocked me over with a feather! I even offered up the usual token apology of ‘sorry about the change mate’, but they just said, ‘yeah, you will be sorry about it, because I’m not accepting it’. I honestly didn’t know that such a law existed. What a sick joke. I won’t be shopping there again, let me tell you.”