Shiny new Loonies rejected by some machines


New Loonie and new Toonie

Toronto’s parking machines don’t much like Queen Elizabeth’s shiny new face…

The Royal Canadian Mint’s newest batch of 2012 loonies and toonies are manufactured with multi-ply plated steel technology. As such, they weigh a little bit less than their alloy predecessors, and the city’s parking machines don’t recognize them. The Mint made the switch because the coins have more security features and are cheaper to produce.

But what’s less expensive for the government is more costly for purveyors of coin.

For the Toronto Parking Authority, upgrades to the 2,978 machines are expected to cost $1 million…

The necessary software and mechanical changes to the pay-and-display machines should start next week, and TPA president Gwyn Thomas expects the work will be completed by the summer….The Calgary Parking Authority is already in the process of recalibrating its 770 machines. The software was purchased from the service provider and the labour is being done in-house…

Upgrades are a fact of life for the city’s parking meters. In 2007, the TPA paid $10 million for credit-card reader upgrades for the fleet. The upgrade was meant to reduce card fraud, but because of the processing technology, uncollected and declined transactions nearly doubled in 2008, an audit later found. A $7 million upgrade followed.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Mint said the vending industry and “coin acceptance mechanism manufacturers” have known about this for two years.

“Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual operators to initiate the changeover of equipment, the necessity of which we have communicated for several years,” Alex Reeves wrote.

That sentence is as convoluted as some of mine.

I can see all of my geek cheapskate friends in Toronto doing the standard search, right now. Trying coins from all over the world to see if something a lot cheaper works just as well.

Best hit I ever had was bringing rolls of 10-zloty coins back from Poland to the Connecticut city where I worked in the 1970′s. They worked as well as a quarter in parking meters and cost me less than a penny apiece.

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