Woman Denied Groceries For Hungry Children After Attempting To Pay In Change

A mother desperate to feed her children breaks open the family’s change jar to buy food only to be turned away from the grocery store.

 Jean’s story takes place in Portland Oregon. The mother who’s too embarrassed to have her photo released to the public says she wants people to hear her story. The desperate mother said

” We had nothing to feed out children with, so we broke out the change.”

After pulling together $32 Jean and her family headed to a local Save-A-Lot store where she carefully picked out food that fit the budget and proceeded to check out. What happened next is absolutely heart breaking.

“And when I went up, I told them, you know ‘I have change. Sorry It’s hard times right now.’  The person at the register responded saying “Well we can only accept $5.”

The mother pleaded, “It’s money, Money’s Money.”

The clerk did not budge, and the mortified mother went a few miles up the street to the next store.

After gathering her groceries yet again and heading to check out,  she was faced again with the same problem. The person at the register told her they could not accept her change and that she needed to use the change machine wich would charge her 10%. The store manager can out and confirmed what the person at the register.

Jean broke into tears and explained that she couldn’t afford to lose the extra money.

Finally a disgusted customer stepped in and offered to buy Jeans money, after that the manager said “OK, got to the change machine and we’ll pay the fee.”

After sharing her story with friends, it garnered attention from the local news station.

 KVAL.COM reports  Tuesday, both Fred Meyer and Save-a-Lot responded to calls from KATU News.

“We apologize for the inconvenience the customer experienced at the store,” said Fred Meyer Public Affairs Director Melinda Merrill. “Receiving change for a payment is a rare occurrence. Fred Meyer stores do accept change as payment and we will work with our store directors and management teams to ensure they know this.”

Save-a-Lot External Communications Manager Chon Tomlin also apologized Tuesday.

“We deeply apologize for the misunderstanding that occurred recently at our SE Foster location. As a corporate policy, we accept all forms of payment, except for American Express. There is no maximum limit on cash payments, specifically those involving coins of any type,” Tomlin said.

When the KATU Problem Solvers called around to other grocery stores in our area and said they were from KATU, all of the store managers said loose change was acceptable as payment. But when they called back as customers, they got a different story:

  • QFC would only accept $5 or $6 in loose change.
  • Albertsons said they would only accept $5.
  • WinCo and Safeway didn’t have a cutoff, but said they tell customers to use the change machine.
  • Only Whole Foods and New Seasons were open to accepting change, no matter what the amount.

The KATU Problem Solvers checked with the Oregon Attorney General, who said while there is a federal law saying coins are legal tender, there is not a law that mandates private businesses accept them as payment.


One Comment

  1. Sarah Bernard says:

    Legal tender is legal tender. regardless of if it is change or bills.

    1. I agree and these people should be penalized by being moved to another part of the store. RIght now, getting fired is economically unviable. We all need jobs. However what people need to do if they really wantto impact the place is not shop there. I don’t like that either, because the political powers that be are causing enough damage anyway but the story itself is appalling.

  2. Your Worst Nightmare says:

    Looks like we need to start a facebook campaign against these stores. We’ll see how fast they accept change when they have no money. I know I will never shop there. Kudos to the customer that offered to buy her change. For that I applaud you. For the store employees, I really don’t know how they sleep at night. I would have spit in their face.

    1. Lucy says:

      There’s no need to demonize people and spit it anyone’s face if they’re just doing what they’ve been told to do. Put the pitchfork down and cool it. They aren’t *technically* doing anything wrong as per the article saying there’s no law mandating stores do anything. What would really make a difference is for management of these stores work on ways to accommodate these less frequent pay-in-change occurrences with less headache for all involved. Perhaps try going to a bank beforehand to get your money rolled and counted or even exchanged? Though I don’t know if there’s any fees for that either.

      1. Lucy says:

        According to my internet search, you can exchange your change at a bank usually without a fee, sometimes not even rolled. Some branches have machines that automatically sort the coins and counts them for you. You would need some ID if you don’t have an account there.

  3. Kayla Rueckert says:

    This makes me absolutely sick. I can’t believe people would turn away a woman and her starving children all because their lazy asses don’t want to count the damn change.

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