Over the weekend I happened to eat lunch with 15 close friends and family members at the Kenwood Pavalion Panera Bread in Cincinnati. Normally Panera Bread is one of my favorite lunch time restaurants, great food and service. Not this time however. Since there were 15 of us and we were on a retreat/conference budget there was going to be one check and it would be paid in cash. Our check of close to $86.00 was presented by a young gentleman named Casey, and we promptly gave him a $100 bill. His response to this was "we don't accept $100 bills because we've had several counterfeits recently."
Now excuse me for a moment but the last time I checked we are still in the U.S. and American greenbacks are still legal tender. I explained to him that we were on a cash account and had no other way to pay except for the $100 bill. He said there was nothing he could do so I asked to speak with the manager. The manager, a mid-to-late-30's aged woman named Kelly Moss explained to me that their regional manager would not allow them to accept $100 dollar bills because over the past several months they had accepted several counterfeit bills. My response to her was that she had to accept our money as it explicitly states on the bill "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" and therefore they are required by law to accept it. Her response was that she could do nothing without the consent of her regional manager.
The problem with this whole scenario is that even though legally Panera Bread has to accept my U.S. Dollars because it is legal tender, who is going to enforce it? The police? Hardly. My only option would be to take the matter to court, but obviously it's not worth it over such a small amount. A member of our party ended up footing the bill via personal credit card, but this created more of a hassle for us in trying to figure out the account details. How hard would it be for Panera Bread to get one of those little highlighters that proves if a bill is fake or not? That's what every other place of business I've been to does.
My point of the story is this. When businesses will no longer accept the currency of the land by forcing an individual to use a paper-less unit of exchange such as a credit card or other debt instrument we have a serious problem on our hands. A loss of privacy ensues, infringement upon constitutional rights becomes the order of the day. Laws are supposed to be in place to protect individuals and they should be enforced, so long as they are moral and constitutional.
Here's the contact info for the Panera Bread if anyone is in the area and would like to check up on them.
8115 Montgomery RoadI wonder if they accept Pesos?
Cincinnati, Oh 45236
Phone (513) 891-5401
Fax (513) 891-3338