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Call Kurtis: Can I Trust These Machines?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13'...
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(CBS13) — You’ve probably seen them at the grocery store. Those coin counting machines, like Coinstar, where you throw in your loose change and get cash. But a Sacramento woman says she was shorted so she called Kurtis.

Coinstar’s web site says it has 19,000 machines across the country.
Sure, it’s an easy way to cash in your coins. But unless you count your coins ahead of time, how would you know if these machines are accurate?

Joy Hauser says she counted her change and believes she had exactly $122.56 in coins. But when she loaded her money into this Coinstar machine inside a Placerville grocery store, she says it only registered $111.

After Coinstar took out its 9.8% commission, she thinks she walked away with $5 less than she expected.

“That was our money and they kept it,” says Joy.

So how do any of us know if we can trust these machines?

“You expect it to give you credit for what you put in there,” says David Lazier, Assistance Director, California Division of Measurement Standards.

But Lazier says no agency is really keeping tabs on these machines for accuracy.

“We do oversee the machines, we just don’t test them on a regular basis,” says Lazier.

Partly because there are no testing standards. So it’s really up to you to count your own coins or here’s an idea. Bring them to your bank. Many branches have coin counting machines.

Certain branches of the Bank of Stockton, Modesto Commerce Bank, Elk Grove Commerce Bank, Golden 1 and Safe Credit Unions will count coins for free for their own customers.

It’s tough to know what happened in Joy’s case.

Coinstar told us:

“Accuracy is paramount in our business and Coinstar goes to great lengths to ensure that the accuracy levels of our machines remain at their highest….” and “that human error is by far the predominant cause of count discrepancies.”– Sarah Ward Jones, Manager, Public Relations.

“There’s seemingly no recourse,” says Joy.

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