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Paying Tolls With Pennies Allowed, But Frowned Upon [AUDIO/VIDEO]

Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media

If you’ve ever tried to pay your toll on the Turnpike or the Parkway with pennies, you might have a problem. Some toll takers refuse to accept them, and occasionally they’ll become downright nasty. One member of the New Jersey 101.5 News team- when she attempted to pay a portion of the toll with pennies – had them thrown back at her!

Fortunately the coins landed harmlessly on the ground.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney says “we ask people not to use them as a courtesy to the drivers in line behind them, but the official policy is they are legal tender and they are accepted at all the cash lanes…we’ve had cases in the past where we have collectors who didn’t want pennies – refused to take them – and were disciplined for it – there’s a bulletin instructing them that pennies are accepted…but sometimes if you’re stuck, and that’s all you have in the car, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be accepting that.”

It might not seem like a big deal to accept pennies that are bunched together in a coin wrap, but Feeney points out “the only way to find out if there are 50 pennies in each of those rolls is to crack em open and count em – it’s not like we have a scale in there or anything to judge whether it’s a full roll without actually doing the counting.”

As for those “No Pennies Please” signs on the toll roads, Feeney says “I think that’s a fairly old sign, but that’s a vestige of a time when they were trying to discourage penny use, but there’s never a time when you were not able to use them…so please don’t use pennies- I think that would sum up our position – obviously if you have to you have to, but it slows things down.”

So what happens if a toll taker refuses to take pennies?

He says “if a driver is offended by that – they should call and make a complaint – note what lane they’re in and call the Turnpike Authority headquarters…that toll collector will be instructed that he or she has to accept pennies- and an uncooperative toll taker would face progressive disciplinary action, but frankly I’m not sure what it is -whatever is under their contract- and I’m sure it would start with telling them instructing them that they have to take pennies – I’m not sure it’s ever gotten much past that -usually when you tell someone they’re incorrect and they have to take pennies, then they start taking pennies, but for it to go beyond that I think it would have to be someone who was a chronic offender – I’m not sure that’s ever happened.”

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