- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

Paper money can cause problems for vending machine owners —more service calls to fix the machines, more hassle in dealing with crumpled bills and a loss on sales from unaccepted bills.

So the vending machine industry welcomed the $1 coins when the U.S. Mint started its presidential series Feb. 15, said Brian Allen, director of government affairs and counsel for the National Automatic Merchandising Association.

But the presidential dollars haven’t been nearly as popular as the successful state quarter series, and vending machine officials have seen few of the coins.

The Mint released the John Adams $1 coin into circulation May 17, the second in a series that features four presidential dollars each year. The first in the series, the George Washington coin, was released Feb. 15.

About 304 million Washington $1 coins and 202 million John Adams $1 coins have been released, said Ed Moy, director of the U.S. Mint.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” he said.

The presidential series is the government’s third attempt to bring $1 coins into wide circulation, after the Susan B. Anthony dollar in 1979 and the Sacagawea dollar in 2000. Both were unsuccessful.

The Mint spent more than $67 million to promote the failed Sacagawea coin from 1998 to 2001, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. That report concluded that the marketing campaign raised public awareness but not widespread use.

This time, public awareness has reached 60 percent in March, up from 15 percent to 20 percent in November, when the coins were announced.

That doesn’t mean people are using them, Mr. Allen said.

“Unless we have them generally available from a machine or dollar-bill changer, which there are few around, then our members probably are not seeing themvery much,” he said.

The British pound coin and Canada’s dollar coin were accepted by the public after the British one-pound note was removed from circulation and circulation of Canada’s dollar note was reduced.

In the U.S., the coins are meant to complement rather than replace the dollar bill, which has been in circulation since 1862, Mr. Moy said.

Consumers prefer coins for more coin-intensive transactions, such as from a vending machine, according to research, but they prefer dollar bills for other transactions, Mr. Moy said.

Vending machines are equipped to accept $1 coins, said Tom McMahon, senior vice president of the National Automatic Merchandising Association, which serves the food and refreshment vending, coffee service and food service management industries.

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