I parked in a garage that has an automated pay-to-park kiosk - you specify how many hours you wish to purchase, and then insert payment. For two hours of parking, the price was listed as $6. It was only after I inserted a $10 bill that I noticed the "exact change only" sign under the payment slot. So, I was effectively charged nearly twice what I should have been.

It was only $4, but I felt like I had been scammed and I went to the main parking office to request my change. They told me I would have to contact the company that actually processes the payments.

Am I legally entitled to my change? Or, did I "consent" to be ripped off because of the three words "exact change only"? My receipt even said that the total cost was $6, and that I paid $10.

  • If the machine made it a 3.5 hour parking duration, then that would have been fair, I suppose?
    – user662852
    Jul 8, 2016 at 14:39
  • @user662852 fair, no. But legal, maybe? If I ordered one coffee and handed my barista a $10, and instead of change I got an extra coffee, I would not be pleased.
    – alexw
    Jul 8, 2016 at 18:05
  • That's why I boycotted driving. Keeping and operating a car in US is one scam after another. Sep 23, 2016 at 23:16

1 Answer 1


You didn't consent to being ripped off. You did however fail to grasp the terms under which you were permitted to park on their property, and you failed to pursue an alternative (such as looking for change; using a credit card). It is possible that you should have known that this was a no-change-given machine, since one can often see that there is no mechanism on these machines whereby you can actually get change. However, if you have clear proof that you owed $6 and you paid $10, then 4 of those dollars are properly yours, and there is a reasonable chance that you could prevail in a suit against them. There is even a greater chance that they would refund the difference, just as a sensible business practice.

"Exact change" is legal and can even be the law, especially in government-run transportation systems.

  • Good answer, until the last sentence where you beg the question. I am also skeptical about that assertion, since there are "legal tender" laws, and I'd be surprised to see a statute of the form, "These notes shall be legal tender for all debts ... unless the debt is for a different amount, in which case never mind."
    – feetwet
    Jul 7, 2016 at 23:14
  • @feetwet: I don't think that is what "legal tender" means. Legal tender is that which is exchange medium that must be legally accepted, and a face value. In the US, if I advertise something for $5 I must accept a $5 bill as full payment. I don't have to accept say, the equivalent in gold bullion, or even have the option to increase the price due to form of payment (which is how money changing spreads are legal). I don't think there is any interaction between "legal tender" laws and "exact change".
    – sharur
    Sep 16, 2016 at 21:02
  • @sharur Legal tender is weaker than that. A business is allowed to have a no-cash policy; all legal tender means is that it's a valid way to settle a debt.
    – cpast
    Sep 22, 2016 at 20:02

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