Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Results: Beer Stein of Change

That's $0.01 shy of $95 dollars.

The poll closed with 12 votes and most of you deeply underestimated the value of quarters. A full half the field estimated $45 in change in my Lowenbrau beer stein and only one reader took the high and accurate road of $95. So much for the wisdom of crowds. Or maybe 12 doesn't quite make a crowd. I think Surowiecki's point had something to do with random individuals and large sample sizes, neither of which we produced here. It's clear form the poll results that I just know a few skeptics.

That said, I do want to get back to a comment by reader 'Iceman' that read:
Coinstar is for suckers....go to any TD Bank and they'll sort your change for free.
Cold, Iceman, but true. I didn't do my homework going in and was only mildly surprised (as in, I should have expected this) the Coinstar tries to fee-gouge you to the tune of 9.8%. And after that just gives you some kind of 'cash voucher' which must create a second layer of inconvenience as you find a way to redeem it. I was picturing some kind of mail-in and wait 6-10 weeks for a check, but didn't go down that road to find out for sure. Perhaps someone else can comment?

So I went with Plan B, which in Coinstar terms is taking the full dinero amount in the form of a gift card with one of their pre-selected partners. This is also a pretty sly deal and I'm sure Coinstar's getting a tummy scratch on the back end of this too, but at least you get your full value and some of the vendors are pretty good. I chose but you could have iTunes, The Gap or a few others. Surprisingly, Wegman's wasn't one of the vendors.

Adding in poll results for posterity and because I wanted to remove the widget from my left-hand nav:


  1. 1) When I have used Coinstar in the past at various grocery stores, it just prints out a receipt that can be taken to the cashier and redeemed for cash on the spot. Still a huge rip-off, but at least it's convenient.

    2) In defense of Surowiecki, wisdom of crowds guessing games won't work if you first bias the participants by listing your own guesses, which creates an anchor. Also, the thesis is that the average guess of the crowd will be more accurate than the vast majority of the individual guesses, not that the average will itself be very accurate.

    3) See! I read your blog!

  2. TD Bank just most recently started making people open accounts in order to use their coin-counting machines. Contrary to what 'Iceman' said, you can no longer go in and use them for free, you must have an account!