Man comes out 89 cents richer after a year of penny-rounding

Ever since the penny went extinct in Canada, one Montreal-area resident has been tracking his everyday transactions to see whether he was being slighted or coming out on top.

Montreal-area man Roger Guitar tracked cash transactions for a year

Roger Guitar tracked his cash transactions for a year to see whether he'd come out on top or not after the phasing out of the penny. (Sophie Tremblay/CBC)

Ever since the penny went extinct in Canada, one Montreal-area resident has been tracking his everyday transactions to see whether he was being slighted or coming out on top.

It turns out, 365 cash transactions have made the man from Montreal's South Shore 89 cents richer as a result of the elimination of the penny.

“Here, for example in April, I was up five cents," said Roger Guitar. "In February I was minus-23 cents.” 

“Here, we bought some flowers for $11.48. They charged me $11.50, so I lost two cents.” 

He began the experiment after the Royal Canadian Mint stopped circulating the penny in early 2013 to see whether rounding would favour the buyer or the seller.

Now that the experiment is done, Guitar is glad to have come out on top — but he still has some questions.

“What I would like to do is go to one of these stores and calculate it from their point of view,” Guitar said.

So CBC reporter Sophie Tremblay headed out to a local dépanneur and asked.

Nickel and diming it

Store owner Dong Sheng Wang says he’s too busy to calculate what the real result of the phasing out of the penny has had.

“I think it’s the same," Wang said. "Sometimes I lose. Sometimes I really win."

Cash transactions are now rounded up or down to the nearest nickel — this means that $1.01 and $1.02 would be rounded down to $1, while $1.03 and $1.04 would be rounded up to $1.05.

Wang knows some dépanneur owners who use rounding to their advantage by fixing prices so that they can always round up and not down.

“My friend tells me if you set up the price good maybe you can make $300, $200 a year,” he said.

Guitar said that he figures most businesses don't round to make money, and figures the average consumer would come out as he did — plus or minus a buck.

Guitar sent his study to Canada's finance minister who thanked him for his calculations.

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