Lighter Canadian coins cost vendors millions

Recent changes to Canada's currency are wreaking havoc on the vending machine industry.

Local vending machine company could spend up to $10,000 upgrading vending machines

Changes to the weight of the loonie and toonie are costing the vending machine industry millions. 2:05

Recent changes to Canada's currency are wreaking havoc on the vending machine industry.

The Canadian government changed the weight of its one- and two-dollar coins and as a result, some vending machines are not able to process the coins.

"The machines deal with the size and weight of the money. If either of those change, the machines need to be recalibrated. If they’re not recalibrated they won’t accept the money; the machine won’t register that any money has been put in," said Ryan Soulliere, president of Metro Vending and Catering. "It leaves the consumer with no product and me with an angry consumer."

Soulliere said he has 100 machines across Windsor. Every one of them needs to be recalibrated to accept the new coins.

The estimated cost to Metro is somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000. It's an expense the company can't avoid.

$40-million cost industry wide

A January article in the Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Canadian government, estimated there would be a one-time cost of $40 million to the vending industry as a whole to recalibrate "coin acceptance equipment."

The new loonies and toonies look and feel similar to the consumer, but vending machines recognize the slightest changes.

The new loonie weighs 6.27 grams while the toonie comes in at 6.92 grams, according to the Canada Gazette.

The 2012 one- and two-dollar coins are lighter because they are now being made of multi-ply plated steel, which makes them cheaper to produce than their alloy predecessors, said Alex Reeves, a senior communications manager at the Royal Canadian Mint.

"These are just simple machines. They're programmed for the diameter and the weight.. If either of those change and we don't tell the machine there's been an upgrade, it doesn't know the difference," Soulliere said.

Soulliere found a cheap and simple fix for about 40 of his machines. But the remaining 60 will cost him much more.

Call for government compensation

When the original loonie was introduced to replace dollar bills 25 years ago, Soulliere said the government compensated businesses like his for the extra costs.

He'd like to see the same happen now. He's not optimistic.

"Perhaps if there's enough vending companies and other coin-centric companies that come together, we could lobby; show our bills and say, 'this is what it costs to change them over,'" Soulliere said.

The changes and upgrades won't end this year, either. Machines will have to be adjusted again in just a few months when the new polymer 20 dollar arrives in November. New 10- and five-dollar bills come online in 2013.

The Canada Gazette estimates the government will save $16 million a year by using the new coins.