Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Euros and Non-Cents

Freiburg has an efficient streetcar system that operates until late in the night. After 1 a.m. hourly buses bearing names of planets starting from Bertoldsbrunnen take over carrying night owls home into the suburbs.

Stopping point Bertoldsbrunnen. During the night instead of streetcars 3 and 5
the Merkur and Pluto busses are operating (Photo BZ)
The following story somewhat late for the Sommerloch (silly season) is presently exciting the Freiburgers. The other night a girl of seventeen partying downtown was late for the last streetcar. When she mounted the 1.11 a.m. Merkur bus she handed the driver a two euro piece, three ten cent and ten two cent coins to make up for the total fare of 2.50 euros. The driver simply refused to take the money saying: His service regulations only allow him to take five copper coins for one ticket. He started the engine, shut the door, and left the girl behind who called home for transport. Her father was not amused and in making the story public set off an avalanche.

Euro copper coins are only copper plated iron coins.
This likely is a German invention when in the 1960ies the value of the copper
of the pfennigs became higher than the value of the coin. So all copper coins
were little by little replaced with coins made out of a copper-iron sandwich (Photo BZ).
Since then there is not one day with more details in the Badische Zeitung (BZ). The spokesman of the local transport company (VAG) read from the conditions of carriage: The personnel is not obliged to change bills of more than 10 euros or to accept one and two cent coins adding up to more than 10 cents. I admire how in my country even the slightest details are regulated.

Today a law professor said: In principle a handful of euro coins is legal tender in Germany like euro bills although article 11 of the minting law stipulates that nobody is obliged to take more than 50 coins in one financial transaction. However, the VAG have a conveyance obligation and thus cannot choose their clients. Therefore the VAG is not allowed to apply stricter rules in their conditions of carriage than in the minting law. Hence, the girl was refused transport contrary to the law.

Une querelle d’Allemand is on again. With interest I am already looking forward to the letters to the editor in my favourite newspaper.

1 comment:

  1. I have a yearly bus pass and don't have to worry about the coins ...but I do have another coin story about the old Illinois Toll Road gates (before I-pass) and that some customers would only pay in penny's and would have to wait for the machine to count the cents (which seemed a little dumb to me) anyway thank God for transponders and receivers and the drive through toll pass!