July 15, 2020
Assume you know what others can afford to lose.
Kroger cashiers will no longer be giving coin change to customers who pay in cash. Customers will be offered the option of giving the change to charity, or having it applied as a credit. While the fact that there is less cash circulating due to the economic impact of COVID-19 is the catalyst for this decision, it is nevertheless a decision that will have unduly burden those who are most severely impacted. Some are fortunate enough to have never had to count their change to make a necessary purchase, but there are also many who have not been as lucky. Coins back on a purchase can be any amount from $0.01 to $0.99, almost a dollar. To an impoverished college student, or a single parent with a low-income job who is already figuratively, if not literally, counting their pennies, this is an act of humiliation and cruelty. Offering people who are struggling the option of giving their change to charity, when they may be in need of it themselves will be incredibly triggering for some. When the other option is a store credit to the same store that has a policy against returning change owed, forcing customers to return or lose their money, it’s hard not to think of extortion. Granted, the company has stated that coin refunds will be available via the self-checkout machines, although this distinction seems arbitrary, and yet another inconvenience that will impact those who are less financially secure disproportionately.