Shops test rounding off euro prices
26 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — A town near Utrecht begins an experiment on Monday with rounding off cash payments to the nearest five cents. If judged to be a success, it could spell the end for the 1 and 2 euro cent coins in shops in the Netherlands.
Some 500 shops and businesses in Woerden will not accept or pay out any 1 or 2 cent coins over the next six weeks, and will instead round off payments to the nearest 5 cents.
Residents in Woerden have received an information folder about the experiment. Participating shops, cafes and filling stations will hang a poster in their windows to explain they are not going to pay or receive the smallest euro cent coins.
The experiment is organised by the payment traffic organisation MOB to see how consumers will react to paying, for example, EUR 16.95 instead of EUR 16.97 or EUR 25 instead of EUR 24.98.
There have been frequent complaints since the introduction of the euro notes and cent coins in January 2002 that the small coins slow down the payment process and make it too cumbersome.
Supermarkets in the Netherlands, for instance, currently handle one billion 1 and 2 cent coins annually.
Prior to the introduction of the euro, shops and businesses traditionally rounded guilder payments up or down to the nearest five cents.
Now MOB wants to see if rounding off euro payments will speed up transactions at the cash register and reduce administrative costs. The results of the Woerden experiment will be presented to Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm.
The MOB does not believe that rounding off will increase the prices charges to consumers, and claims that prices will be rounded down as often as they are rounded up.
Even if rounding off becomes the national norm, the 1 and 2 cent coins will not be abolished as electronic payments made by PIN and credit card will still be charged to the exact cent.
To date, Finland is the only one of the 12 euroland countries to have withdrawn the 1 and 2 cent coins from circulation.
[© Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + the euro