The Hassle of Rolling Loose Change

Posted on August 22, 2012 | in Error-Proofing, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, Maintenance, Motion, Time Savings, TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) | by

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Rolling loose change is a pretty annoying practice. It’s extremely time consuming, to the point that I simply collect coins in a large tin (or large plastic Coke bottle bank) over the course of many years and select a day where I will sit down and put them all into sleeves.

Well, that’s what I formerly would do, before banks came out with coin-counting machines of their own. This made the process of collecting and rolling change so much easier because I no longer had to roll the change. The hardest part of the process was eliminated.

In fact, coin-counting machines provided an additional benefit for banks – error-proofing of coin collection and rolling. Instead of relying on the counting and assembly skills of many individual contributors of loose change, now a machine (provided it was functioning properly) could easily collect, count, stack, roll, and seal groups of coins together accurately.

So what do the banks of the world do? They eliminate the coin-counting machines.

I’ve been banking with Bank of America for a long time, and before that I had accounts with KeyBank. Only recently have I learned that banks have started to do away with the machines. Why? I’ve been told the machines are too hard to maintain and they keep breaking.

(Machine maintenance is a discussion for another day, but even still I have trouble believing this.)

I have stopped into multiple Bank of America branches in the greater Augusta, Georgia area and none of them have coin-counting machines. Thinking larger banking facilities might have machines, I visited the large Bank of America building in downtown Columbia, South Carolina today. The teller informed me that Bank of America has a new policy of not using such machines, before handing over a bunch of differently-colored coin sleeves.

Why is the failure to maintain these machines and keep them in service outweighing the benefits of simplified coin-collection processes and built-in accuracy?

(And yes, I’m aware of Coinstar – the coin-counting machine company that charges 8-10% of all counted coins. To be honest, I’ve never seen one of their machines break down and they would seem to be less maintained since they are usually standalone units found in grocery stores and malls. I never understood how this was a viable business venture – were people not aware that banks had change machines that didn’t charge high fees? I suppose the joke was on me.)

I would spend time seeking the answer as to why these bank machines have gone the way of the dodo, but I’ll instead be spending that time counting, stacking, rolling, sleeving, and wrapping. Thanks, Bank of America.

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4 Responses to “The Hassle of Rolling Loose Change”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I didn’t know banks had machines like this (I rarely go inside a branch anymore).

    I guess it’s worth 10% of the coins versus the time I’d spend rolling and counting. But, I remember doing so as a child, when my time was less valuable (or so I thought!).

    • Chad Walters says:

      Mark –

      I was happy to use these machines for years, and it’s very surprising to see companies “un-automate” some of these internal processes.

      My thought is the same about Coinstar – it’s probably the direction I’ll have to go because it’s so simple and fast, but when Coinstar first came out banks were using these machines without charging fees. Did Coinstar lobby to have banks get rid of the machines or offer kickbacks? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this does make me wonder a bit…

  2. Griff says:

    Big banks don’t care about small consumers. Individual checking accounts actually COST them money. If they have your mortgage they might care a little bit.

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