Man Arrested For Paying With Two-Dollar Bill

The Baltimore Sun reports on the case of Mike Bolesta, who was recently arrested for the crime of paying a bill with $2 bills. This seems to be an example of an urban legend come to life--the urban legend being the one about a clerk in a store who doesn't realize that $2 bills are legal money and reports a customer who uses them to the police. In the case of Mike Bolesta, he did use A LOT of $2 bills, 57 of them in all, to pay a bill at Best Buy. But still, there doesn't appear to have been any good reason for the store to have him hauled away to the police station for this. (via Slashdot)


Posted on Mon Apr 11, 2005


Sounds like he might have gotten snippy with the salesgirl...but calling the police? Oy.

And I know that stores can legally refuse to let you pay with a whole lot of quarters (or other change, I think) and that they can refuse to accept fifty or hundred-dollar bills (is that legal?), but I'm not sure about other denominations.

I don't you think we should even keep printing two-dollar bills? Everybody hoards them, and hardly anybody ever actually uses them--kind of like fifty-cent pieces and our lovely dollar coins. Is it worthwhile to mint money that's hardly ever used in daily commercial transactions? Hmmmm.
Posted by Katherine  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  12:57 AM
When he wins his multi-million dollar lawsuits against both Best Buy and the police, will they pay him off in $2 bills?
Posted by Saint Cad  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  01:43 AM
Why on earth did this guy think it would be a good (or comic) idea to pay for something with a bundle of $2 notes? I think he went about the situation in totally the wrong way. If Best Buy had stuffed up and said that installation was free, then then turn around and demand payment for same, why didn't he complain about that to start off with? Mind you, I suppose it wouldn't have made the news...Man complains about being charged after being told it was free...doesn't have quite the same ring to it...
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  02:16 AM
I think, unless you've posted that you do not accept certain denominations at certain times (like, large bills after dark), that you can't refuse payment inconsistantly. If they refuse $2 bills consistantly, then they might have a case.

But also, he wasn't purchasing goods and services, he was paying a debt (under threat of legal action) which was acquired. That might fall under the forced legal-tender acceptance umbrella for a private debt. He could have paid in pennies, or half cents, or three cent pieces, or twenty cent pieces, unless prohibited by state law, I think.

Also, he was arrested for having sequential bills with smearable ink. That is the stupid part. All US money has smearable ink, that is one of the proofs that it is real US money. Take any US bill in your wallet and rub a dark area against a piece of paper, you'll leave a mark. Best Buy are Idjits.
Posted by Splarka  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  02:54 AM
It may differ in the USA but in Britain the situation in a shop is that it is an offer to buy, not compulsion to sell.

It matters not what form the money is in, a shop doesn't 'have' to sell you anything if they don't feel like it.

$2 coins/notes are good. To have the most options with the fewest coins/notes the values are - 1, 2, 5. (1p, 2p, 5p. 10p, 20p, 50p.
Posted by Peter  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  04:54 AM
...My husband always seems to have a few $2 bills. He gets them from the bank, or as change. I never get them. We just paid the babysitter $70, $10 of which was in $2 bills.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  06:00 AM
To Peter in the UK:

If he'd shown up at the cash register with an armload of merchandise and a fistful of $2 bills, then your scenario would apply. However, the issue in this case is not one of potentially refusing a sale, they had already completed the sale and installation of the merchandise, and supposedly waived the installation fee -- then called him up demanding the fee on pain of arrest.

Looks like the employee was at-home to Mr. Cockup, and I can't say I'm impressed with the actions of the police either. Sounds like they need some training all around.
Posted by Nightfall  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  08:45 AM
For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey,
Posted by Timmy O'Toole  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  10:31 AM
Terrorists know that America's weakness is that there's no slot in the register to put the $2 bills. Take the extra time the clerk spends trying to figure out where to put those bills and multiply it by several billion and you'll have found a way to bankrupt this nation.


PS Peter, you're right, I've heard about that, that the European coin denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 are more effecient than the 1, 5, 10, 25 denominations that we have here. But forget about changing it - our money is our heritage in America and it's all about tradition.

PPS Don't you think it's wierd that none of our coins in America have any numbers written on them? We think other country's currency is confusing, imagine foreigners coming here and getting a fistfull of coins the first time. What's a dime? What's a nickel?
Posted by brian  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  11:35 AM
I don't suppose anybody HAS to accept any kind of money. But if somebody tries to pay you legal tender and you refuse it, it's your fault, not theirs.
After all, $2 is $2.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  12:02 PM
Brian, 25 dollar bills? Huh?

But I don't understand what this guy was arrested, and why cops would come down just because some guy paid in sequential bills. Couldn't they just run some kind of internet search in their station to see if the bills were missing? It's either extreme incompetence, an incomplete story, or just a resurfaced legend.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  04:54 PM
This guy is definately going to have a lucrative lawsuit or two to file... and he will win. These idiots working at BestBuy should be held individually accountable as well as their corporation. Maybe then they will reign in their ignorance, although I seriously doubt it! Such good publicity too. I wonder if anyone will be fired over this?
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Tue Apr 12, 2005  at  05:07 PM
Wow brian, you are right! American coins don't have numbers printed on them. I never noticed it before. I don't know how I would have gotten through my travels to other countries if their coins had no denominations written on them.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:06 AM
Posted by Barghest  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:49 AM
Best Buy could plausibly have refused to accept the $2 bills, although it was stupid. What was unforgiveable was arresting the guy on fear of counterfeiting because he used them.

I mean, if I were to counterfeit I wouldn't pick $2 bills to make. Why guarantee extra scrutiny?
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  04:25 AM
For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey,
Posted by toby  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  02:50 PM
Yah, actually I'm not surprised this happened at a Best Buy. Best Buy has probably the worst customer service department I have ever seen. I remember attempting to call the customer service department about a question I had about exchanged a t.v. I had recently bought that had broken and never getting an answer. Finally I drove all the way to the store and I saw why I never got to actually speak to a representative. Their phone would ring while I was there, and all the people working there would just keep walking past it while it was ringing until eventually it was quiet.

So then I didn't aparently bring the information they needed to make the exchange on the item so I had to drive home (40 min each way during rush hour) and get everything I needed. Of course, if they had answered their phones in the first place I would have known what I needed to bring for the transaction the first time around.

Then I went back and waited in there while they "processed my information." They told me this would take about 20 min. Lets just say I was in there 4 hours. Good thing I happened to have a book with me. I kept going up and asking how much longer it would take, and I got the 20 min answer every time I asked. After 4 hours I was tired and cranky and had finished my novel, so I gave them my phone number and told them to call me when my papers were processed.

2 days later they hadn't called me (and didn't answer their phone when I called them) so I went in again. They told me straight off that for a reason that was unexplainable they were not able to exchange my t.v., so I ended up going home with my broken television after spending over 6 hours trying to exchange it for a new working one.

Needless to say, that was the last time I ever bought anything from Best Buy. However, I can say that at least they didn't have me arrested. I did write some fairly polite letters to their main office telling them about what happened to me. I never recieved a responce...
Posted by Razela  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  03:49 PM
I once paid for 7-11 nachos with a Hillary Clinton $3 bill.
Posted by booch  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  11:58 PM
Yep, that's sad about Best Buy... well it's sad that customer service this bad is practically becoming the norm now. Well, I suppose we kind of asked for it... we want low prices over everything, so in exchange we get piss poor customer service, rebates that are never honored, mysterious charges that show up on your bill, and our names and numbers are sold to companies which get hacked by anyone with a brain and a will.
Posted by brian  on  Thu Apr 14, 2005  at  10:51 AM
I've had nothing but good customer service from Best Buy. Sorry to ruin the string of complaints.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Thu Apr 14, 2005  at  06:57 PM
Actually, a business does not have to accept cash at all. There is no law requiring a business to accept cash as a form of payment. They can accept whatever they want in form of payment.

My insurance company does not accept cash for safety reasons...

Posted by Grant  on  Mon May 09, 2005  at  01:08 PM
Posted by RAMBRAZIL  on  Mon Jun 20, 2005  at  01:13 AM
I just want to know how much stock Carl has in Best Buy and if he really believes putting a good word in for them will help his financial situation.

It's you against the world, Carl. Check out any of many sites and you'll find the consensus is stacked strongly against your opinion.
Posted by Sure I believe you  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  01:58 AM
Wow, so anyone who disagrees with you must be lying for financial gain?

I was in Best Buy this weekend. Everyone was courteous, even though I took up a lot of time and didn't buy anything. I'm sure others have had different experiences -- but should I lie about my own pleasant ones, just to be in agreement?
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  03:42 AM
I have never had a bad experience with Best Buy. It's not always the best service, but they do seem to try. They're much better than CompUsa here, and infinitely better than Fry's.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  10:20 AM
I pay all of my customers in $2.00 Bills for years and have been doing televison commercials advertising just that,Police and sales clerk evidently in Baltimore are not the sharpest blades in the drawer
Posted by C&D SCRAP METAL RECYCLERS CO.,INC>  on  Fri Jan 20, 2006  at  01:55 PM
This guy decided to pay like this because he had asked if he needed to pay for the install of the car stereo, and they told him no. Later only to call him and tell him he needed to drive back up there and pay for it before they would do the work. So he went back up there, and decided that if they didn't want it the first time he offered to pay for the install, he would pay for it, but in a manner that would set of a few hats. Unfortunately, some of the ink had smeared on the US legal tender of the $2. If you look closely at your common $1 you'll see it happens. So the under privileged associates with shit better to do, called the police. Good job, what a waste of time!
Poor guy now has a police record. You really showed him!
Posted by Relic  on  Tue Nov 20, 2007  at  12:49 PM
Just to clear this up, according to the US treasury, any business may refuse to accept any currency as a method of payment for any reason:
Posted by Josh  on  Sat Dec 08, 2007  at  09:07 AM
>>>>>For Baltimore County police, said spokesman Bill Toohey,
Posted by Bill  on  Sat Aug 01, 2009  at  06:51 AM
If I was in Mr. Bolesta's situation Best Buy would be VERY sorry for their idiocy.

I'm not a big fan of lawyers but this is a situation just begging for a fat settlement.

Posted by Jeff DeWitt  on  Sun Nov 11, 2012  at  07:37 PM
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