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January 5, 2012



Hard to believe that in this economy anyone would be that choosy.

But perhaps not: last summer, during one of my seemingly endless training runs for the Marine Corps Marathon, I stopped at the little grocery store on The Corner (UVa types will know the place, others just read on) for a bottle of lemonade.

I was totally drenched in sweat, as were the bills I fished out of the little pocket on the back of my running shorts.

The lady at the counter asked me, "Is that sweat?," as she picked up the money.

I said "Yes, but it's still legal money."

She said "Don't try to pay again with that 'cause I won't accept it."

Can a business refuse to take sweaty money?

I suppose so, considering they have a sign that says "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

You see signs like that from time to time so I'm assuming they're legal.

Are they?

January 5, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Have you considered just stuffing a couple bills into a snack baggie? Seems like not much effort would be needed to keep your germs off the money.

Posted by: Fred | Jan 6, 2012 3:51:25 PM

I second Nathan's point.

A business can take just about any measure to refuse make a voluntary exchange with an otherwise willing customer as long as they do so evenly across customers. This is why they can, say, refuse checks as long as they refuse everyone's, or refuse to serve you after a certain (closing) time as long as it applies to everyone.

BTW: You all ought to check out my blog; it's called voluntaryXchange, in part, because of this important legal and social principal. http://voluntaryxhcange.typepad.com/

Posted by: Dave Tufte | Jan 6, 2012 1:09:13 AM

I worked for many years taking money for water utility payments. It is incredible how nasty and dirty people can be. The company would not let us wear rubber gloves because it would offend the customers.

Posted by: Paula | Jan 6, 2012 12:45:06 AM

When I was working retail on a year off from college I had a runner come in and pull some sweaty bills out of his sock to pay for something. I accepted the money but it was gross and I thought he was being rude. If it had happened regularly I'm sure the store would have posted a rule against it.

Posted by: Andrew | Jan 5, 2012 10:07:44 PM

Around VCU, they'll take your money because it might have coke residue on it. Or has it been way too long since I've been there?

Posted by: Becs | Jan 5, 2012 6:46:23 PM

A business may refuse legal tender from anyone for any reason. No business is obligated to take your money. Some states may have provisions to prevent hate crimes (can't refuse service based on race) and the ADA makes sure that disabled people can at least get to the counter, but refusing your money because it's gross is legit.

Also, an attitude I would expect businesses around UVA to take. Betcha that no Blacksburg convenience store considers themselves too good for your money.

I'm just sayin'

Posted by: Nathan | Jan 5, 2012 5:37:05 PM

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