If you’ve worked as a cashier, you probably have encountered customers who would pay for their purchases with a pile of coins rather than bills or a card.
It can take a lot of patience to provide good customer service when counting pennies as a line grows behind the paying customer.
Nick Stafford knew that he would push people’s patience when he showed up with only pennies as his form of payment. But he was not just buying an ice cream cone or a meal.
He chose to pay for the $2,987.14 in taxes that he owed on his car with only pennies! That amount of pennies ended up weighing approximately 1,548 pounds.
As you can imagine, Stafford could not simply carry over 1,000 pounds of pennies in his pockets or a wallet.
He came into the Department of Motor Vehicles in Lebanon, Virginia with five wheelbarrows full of coins.
The coin-counting machine at the DMV was not designed to handle such a heavy load. Instead, employees had to count every penny by hand.
It took over seven hours for all of the coins to be counted. This process was not only strenuously long for the DMV employees but for the 11 people who Stafford hired beforehand to help him break open rolls of pennies.
He paid those 11 people $10 an hour which ended up costing him $440 by the time all of the rolls were emptied in the wheelbarrows. The wheelbarrows themselves cost Stafford $400.
Why did Stafford go through all this trouble and money? He wanted to inconvenience the DMV to prove a point.
Stafford felt extremely inconvenienced when he tried to call the local DMV with a question that he expected could be answered in 30 seconds regarding a recently purchased car.
His question was, “Where do I legally register the vehicle and pay the sales tax if I own 3 houses in Russell County and 1 house in Tazewell county?”
As he waited for over an hour to speak to somebody, he decided to make a Freedom of Information Act request for the direct, unlisted number.
He received it, but the first time he called the number, the person who answered hung up after telling him that he was not supposed to have access to the number.
He had to call that number numerous times before receiving an answer. Stafford filed three separate lawsuits against the Lebanon DMV and two employees when they refused to give him the private, unlisted numbers of nine other Virginia DMV offices.
All lawsuits were dismissed when a representative from the Richmond Attorney General’s office came to personally hand Stafford a list of the requested phone numbers.
He still wanted to prove a point, though, which is why he went through with his plan to show up at the DMV with five wheelbarrows of pennies.
It turned out that the DMV employees were respectful and patient despite being presented with the task of counting about 1,600 pounds of pennies by hand.
Stafford was able to express his opinion and frustrations over his experience in various ways while ultimately getting the information that he originally sought.
What do you think — did Stafford act in accordance with the grievances he suffered or was he out of line?
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