TD Bank sued over penny-pinching counting machines

While counting your pennies is a phrase used to promote the idea of frugality, it seemingly cost consumers a pretty penny to have their coins tallied at the Penny Arcade machines at TD Bank branches.

The Canadian bank, which used to offer a prize for those who could guess within $1.99 of the total of coins dropped into their counters, may be in line for a booby prize of sorts for its mechanical calculating abilities, which came under scrutiny after reports included some TD Bank miscounts by nearly $50.

A proposed class-action suit filed this week in federal court contends thousands of consumers were short changed millions of dollars over the years by unloading their piggy banks in TD Bank's counting machines, which the bank began taking out of service earlier this month.

Filed on behalf of the owner of multiple coin-operated washing and drying machines, the suit contends Regina Filannino-Restifo opened a TD Bank account specifically to have free access to the Penny Arcade at a TD branch in Jefferson Valley, New York. Non-customers are charged an eight percent usage fee for using the coin-counting machines.

"TD Bank's Penny Arcade machines have continuously undercounted coins placed in them by consumers for years and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars," according to the suit filed in federal court on Wednesday.

One of the lawyers involved in the suit, Stephen DeNittis, has previous experience in representing consumers who feel they are getting the short end of the stick, going after Subway for selling "Footlong" sandwiches that didn't always measure up.

TD Bank, with U.S. headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, declined to comment on pending litigation, but said it was "disappointed" with the experience journalists had with its machines.

"We place a premium on the integrity of these machines, and that's why we clean and test them twice daily to confirm accuracy," Judith Schmidt, a spokeswoman for the bank said in an email. "Our machines will be brought back into service when we are satisfied they meet our performance requirements. Additionally, we will be enhancing the routine maintenance and testing of our machines."

The bank's troubles prompted PNC Bank to pull its remaining coin-counting machines from its branches earlier this month.

"We began the process of phasing out our in-branch coin counters last year for a variety of reasons, including low customer use," said Marcey Zwiebel, a spokeswoman for PNC Financial Services. "In addition, we have taken recent media reports, calling into question the accuracy of coin counters in the industry, very seriously."