"CSM to Till 14, please... CSM to Till 14."
As usual, the girl working the checkout didn't have the authority to accept my $50 bills. As usual, I had to wait until a different girl, in a different colored smock, came over to Till 14 to examine the bills. As usual, she simply held them up to the light, rubbed them a couple of times, and handed them back to the first girl with a solemn nod. As usual, my bills passed the intense scrutiny of the Wal-Mart CSM.
It could have been worse, I guess... I could have had the misfortune to get a far-sighted CSM incapable of seeing whatever they see when they hold the bills up to the light. Or, worse... She could have pointed to a little sign that says something to the effect of, "Due to counterfeit problems, we no longer accept $50 or $100 bills."
Believe me, I've seen that sign way too many times in recent years!
It's true that, with the increasing quality, availability, and affordability of laser reproduction, counterfeit bills have become a bigger threat than ever before. In response, the Bank of Canada has gone to great lengths to minimize this threat through the use of multiple security features on our money. In addition to the distinctive colors of ours bills, they've also added things like watermarks, holograms, micro-printing, and fluorescence, just to name a few. Of course, not all of the features became available, or were put into effect, at the same time. So, the bills have been redesigned a couple of times. In my lifetime alone, I have seen three different styles of bills (all still in circulation), and the replacement of the $1 and $2 bills by coins.
I'm not even going to get started on the fact that we have no less than 43 different quarters in circulation!
Although these steps have been made primarily to introduce more secure, more difficult to reproduce, paper currency, it has actually created a bit of a Counterfeit Catch-22. You see, with so many different versions of the same denomination bills floating around out there, and the fact the we've become so used to our bills changing so often, you could practically print just about anything with the Queen's face or Sir John A. MacDonald on it and pass it off as the new $7 bill. It's ridiculous!
Here's what I'd like to see:
- The Bank of Canada picking a style and sticking with it until it becomes the only one left.
- Wal-Mart employees who are trusted enough to handle a float in their till being trusted enough to hold the $50's up to the light and rub them.
- Legislation that forces retailers to accept all Canadian currency, despite their fears of counterfeit. If they can't be bothered to learn the security features, they deserve to lose the $50.
- A commemorative coin (preferably the dollar... the quarter has had the spotlight long enough) with a coffee cup on one side and my face on the other. Now that's what I'd call a Loonie!