Earn $5 Just For Waiting 10 Minutes

by Scott on March 4, 2009

Lincoln Memorial and $5
photo credit: zieak

It was my first job out of college and I was handing out crisp $5 bills for customers who waited in line for 10 minutes or longer. What’s the catch? You had to be a customer and request the $5 payment. Working as a bank teller after college was one of the most interesting jobs I’ve had in personal finance as I got to deal face to face with customers. The bank had a policy to offer customers who waited in line over 10 minutes a crisp $5 bill for the inconvenience. The best part, it took me about 5 minutes to do the transaction and more customers were lining up for the free $5. It always seemed that payday and 5pm on Friday was the day we needed extra $5 bills in our cage.

Did every bank customer ask for the free $5 bill that waited over 10 minutes? Nope. The bank had proper signage that clearly stated the 10 minute policy that was in front of the line ropes. Do I think some customers would never ask for the free $5? Yes.

Do you feel comfortable asking for your free $5 bill?
Maybe it’s not your local bank branch, but it might be a cell phone company or your cable provider. Do you call up and ask for a refund if you have lousy cable reception? I’ve written several posts about my experience with AT&T Uverse service. I finally received a refund for several months of service after complaining about the audio issues.

What is the opportunity cost if you decide not to ask for your $5? In the case of waiting in line, your time and money. You are losing time you could be working or spending quality time with your family. If you didn’t ask for the $5, you’re also missing out on compound interest in your savings account. Yes, $5 seems like a small amount, but it will add up quickly if you look for other opportunities. Did you use a coupon at your supermarket only to find that the cash register did not give you proper credit? Not speaking up could not only cost you the price of the coupon, but could also cost dozens or hundreds of other customers the same fate. Ask to speak to a manger and get the transaction fixed.

Teach your children to look for $5 bills.
You’ve probably figured out already that it’s not about finding opportunities to earn $5 as it’s about making sure you keep your $5. If you notice the cashier shorted you $5 or that the coupon wasn’t process correctly, your children will notice your frustrated. If you don’t say something, what will your children do when faced with a similar situation. Maybe you had a recent $5 situation and you told your kids that it was no big deal. What happens if they are faced with a $50 or $500 error? In the AT&T cable example, my bill was lowered by $250.

Do you have a story when you asked for your $5 bill?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig March 4, 2009 at 11:02 am

I have never seen a bank do that but granted I have only actually been going to a bank for so short of time. It’s an interesting point and I think more people would ask for the $5 bill if you can get it right away. To call up and complain and hope to get some type of refund is more of a hassle and could potentially waste more than $5 worth of time. It’s all about what’s easiest for consumers. That is why a lot of time people forgo rebates even if they can save money. It takes a long time to get the rebate.

2 megscole64 March 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I would LOVE it if my bank did that. lol Except I usually use the ATM or drive through.

My kids will definitely learn to stand up for themselves … I write e-mails to any company when I have an issue with a product. Like some hairspray where the nozzle would NOT stay unclogged for even a day. It was really nuts. I got a coupon for a free product. And the frozen pizza that was closed in the box but when we took it out the plastic wrap was open. I got a coupon for a free pizza.

If I’m going to pay money for something I expect it to be good quality. If not I’m going to say something. I value my money. And my time. :) And it doesn’t take much time to fire off an e-mail to a company if their product doesn’t present as it should.

3 Ted March 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm

“…bill was lowered by $250. That’s 25 $5 bills.”
Uhhm, 25 * 5 does NOT equal $250,- Mayby it is also important to teach the children some basic math :D

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