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Call Security, He’s Got a $2 Bill!

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In a story you have to read in the original to believe, security guards at a Best Buy in Baltimore handcuffed and interrogated a customer and then followed up by calling the Secret Service because the customer attempted to pay them with $2 bills.

First the store manager tried to reject the bills because they had never heard of them, making me marvel at the ignorance of Best Buy employees. Then they treated the guy as if he were a terrorist in front of the whole store, showing their usual level of politeness and common sense. Then they called the Secret Service who told them they were idiots and to uncuff the guy and take the money.

There are a lot more details to this amazing store in the original article from The Baltimore Sun, which ran about a month ago. What I haven’t seen and would like to is a followup either with the Secret Service charging the Best Buy manager with a crime for attempting to not accept legal tender, or with the victim suing Best Buy to get a little justice or just to make a point. At the very least I’d like to hear that the store manager had been fired.

I’ve been annoyed by Best Buy before – pretty much every time I go in there and try to buy something and leave with a slime-covered feeling afterwards. So I’m doing what I can and selling my Best Buy stock, even though it’s gone up more than 80% in two years. I can find another high-performing stock to put that money in and they can go to hell.

In a related story, this doesn’t seem to be an isolated phenomenon. The $2 bill appears to be a major threat to the nation, at least to judge from the reaction of Taco Bell Managers. Fortunately, Reb is on the job with his $2 bill history and info page, as well as a campaign to keep them in circulation. So go down to your bank, get some $2 bills and spend them whenever you can.


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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Temple Stark

    Firing seems pretty strong. Mocked mercilessly and publicly with a year-long roadside billboard campaign seems good.

    I collected them at one point, still have 10 or 12 pre-1976 $2 bills. They reprinted them for the first time since 1976 in 1999 (I believe)

  • Dave Nalle

    They also did a redesign and large reissue in 2003, though I have yet to see one of the new bills.


  • Aaman

    Nice one Dave – was meaning to post this myself – Bestbuy is crazy – the local cops cited in the article said this is because it’s post 9/11 – that’s fucking stupid

  • Scott

    “First the store manager tried to reject the bills because they had never heard of them, making me marvel at the ignorance of Best Buy employees”

    If only everyone were as intelligent as Dave Nalle…

    “what a wonderful world this would be”

  • jadester

    I dunno, sometimes it can be difficult to know all legal tender. A few years ago, here in Blighty, I spotted a £5 coin in the till at work. I was kinda suspicious about that, but asked my boss and he reassured me it was legal. I swapped it for a five pound note I had, and still have the coin somewhere. Why? it’s one of only two I’ve ever seen. OK, so it’s not mint, but it’s a nice silvery souvenir =+)

  • jadester

    of course, i’m not excusing such an overreaction. Surely it would have been a simple enough thing to check with a bank whether $2 notes are in circulation? ah well, the manager must be feeling a little embarrassed now.

  • DrPat

    I heard this story on the radio yesterday, and nearly killed myself laughing. Then I related it second-hand to my spouse, and cracked up all over again.

    We like to carry a roll of gold-bucks (Sacagawea dollar coins for the prosy) to use as tips. Every once in a while, I get a reaction from a clerk, that the coin isn’t “real money” – especially the ones that are a bit tarnished.

    Even stranger, I once got a fifty in payment for aluminum recycling at a Safeway store, then 15 minutes later, the same manager who gave it to me had to be called to the cash register as I tendered it in payment for groceries.

    The clerk said she had never seen a fifty before, and didn’t believe it was a real bill. (My spouse probably didn’t help with a sarcastic, “Well, we can give you two thirties instead…”)

  • Temple Stark

    not seen a fifty? Goodlord but that’s depressing.

    Stores don’t have to take Eisenhower dollars or any silver money or any slver certificates or any former legal currency.

    But if the cashier was anything like I was at a gas station, I swapped them all for my own cash from my own pocket.

  • Dave Nalle

    Jadester, that £5 coin you have was originally minted to take the place of the old silver Crown coins which they stopped minting in the 60s. I lived in the UK during the currency conversion (traditional system to decimal) which is when it was minted, and they were pretty easily available then, but I believe they stopped minting them after a year or two. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come back at some point. The £1 coin has been such a success that it makes sense to have a £5 coin as well. I wish we had a $5 coin here in the US and that people took the $1 coins more seriously and actually used them. Maybe if they made them as cool as pound or euro coins people would use them, but the Sacageweas are dull as dull can be – like giant pennies.


  • Dave Nalle

    DrPat. I carry some Sacageweas around with me most of the time too. They’re fun to irritate people with.

    But you know what will really throw people – try giving them some REAL privately issued money from NORFED, a private group which issues valid silver certificates and silver coins as an alternative to federally minted coinage. They’re very nice and make a good point about money, but half the time you just get blank stares if you try to use them – every once in a while someone catches on and wants to know where to get more, and that’s gratifying.


  • alienboy

    I’m surprised there’s a 2 dollar bill. That’s only worth 1.56 Euros and the lowest value paper euro is the fiver.

    My Spanish bank once tried to give me 500 euro bills but nobody wants to accept them – except money launders and the like!

  • Victor Plenty

    Surprised by a 2 dollar bill? You know we use 1 dollar bills, right?

  • Cpt. Willard

    I remember when 2 dollar bills came out, my dad collected them along with silver dollars and fifty cent coins. I still have one left from his belongings. We used to collect bicentenial quarters too, until I started using them to buy pot in high school. Here in the U.K. Scottish notes are subjected to the same treatment. How many times has some wanker of a clerk refused the Scottish note when I tried to pay up!

  • andy marsh

    I carry a 2 in my pocket all the time. Somebody told me a long time ago that if you had at least a dollar on you “they” could never get you for vagrancy!

  • andy marsh

    I might have expected this from a radio shack employee. They’ve never impressed me.

    The scary thing is thinking about what else that store manager doesn’t know!

  • Cpt. Willard

    I have heard that dollar in the pocket thing too. The last time I had trouble with a Scottish note was when we ordered some take away from a local kebab. The lads informed me that upon their managers orders, they weren’t allowed to accept my money, it wasnt real. Really? go up to Scotland and try this theory, I remarked. I told them to ask their manager if the food I left behind was real, if so he could eat it.

  • jadester

    the first time i was handed a scottish note when i worked in the shop, again i had to check with my manager because whilst i didn’t suspect its authenticity, i wasn’t at all sure about the law regarding scottish tender in england.
    Of course, after that first time, i then knew it was ok. It does seem strange that somewhere would turn it down, but i suppose it just demonstrates that being a manager doesn’t necessarily mean you really know stuff that you should know. You could just have been lucky.

  • Phillip Winn

    The thing to remember here is that we’re talking about the U.S. We have bills in the denominations of: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. I’m pretty sure larger bills have been removed from general circulation. That’s it — seven different bills.

    Now the bills have gone through a redesign of late, but it’s not so dramatic that most people can’t keep track of the larger off-center face and so on.

    I could understand someone being thrown a bit by Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, or the Sacajawea dollar coins, or even the JFK 50-cent pieces, because those are less common, but a $2 bill? Have people really not seen $2 bills?

  • Scott

    I don’t really think $2 bills could be called “common.” I can certainly see how someone may have not seen one before. I mean, I myself have maybe seen only a few.

  • alienboy

    we have 5€($6.50), 10€($13), 20€($25), 50€($65), 100€($130), 200€($260), 500€($650) notes in Europe.

  • Ryan

    Spread them $2’s around! Get people to know their existance!