It’s been a few weeks since my family got back from our little vacation to West Palm Beach and you can check those adventures out here. We had a great time together, enjoying the beach, visiting a zoo and of course all the while collecting plenty of pressed pennies. Unfortunately during this trip I encountered quite a few machines that were not working. This of course can be quite disappointing and even a bit discouraging when this occurs on a trip or vacation, but today I wanted to go over a few different methods I do whenever I run into that dreaded out of order sign.
The first thing I do is try to use the machine anyways. Now this can be a bit risky as you may lose you money. If that happens you can ask for a refund from the location you are visiting, or with some machines they even have a number listed for customer service and will ask for your info to send a refund check.
The next step to try is visit a nearby employee. Many of the pressed penny machines are either in a gift shop or near one that would have someone available to talk with. This can do a couple things, one is let them know the machine is not working (in case they weren’t already aware) so they can contact the vendor to have it serviced for future guests. Plus in some instances I have found that they may have extra pressed pennies available behind the counter that they will give you.
If they don’t have any extra pressed coins available at that time, you can ask if it would be possible to leave the with your mailing address along with adequate quarters, pennies or even dollars if it’s a newer machine so that they can press them once the machine is fixed. You would also need to leave some additional money so they can mail them to you. I have tried this a few times during my travels and only had a couple places offer to do this. I’m sure they are not always comfortable with keeping your money for an unknown period of time, plus it will probably get misplaced or taken if another employee isn’t sure what it’s for.
One place I remember was a mini-golf course in Bradenton Beach Florida that had one of the most amazing machines I’ve ever seen, it looks like a sunken pirate ship. Unfortunately it was out of service. When I spoke to the nearby employee it ended up being the owner, he was very apologetic that the machine wasn’t working and he was more than happy to take down my address, and sure enough after a few weeks the pennies arrived in my mail.
This leads into probably my most used solution and is the one I’ve had the most success with. Basically once I get home I’ll write up a quick letter and mail it back to the location with enough coins to cover the cost of pressing along with a self addresses stamped envelope for them to return the coins.
While we were at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium they had three separate machines each with one penny design. Two of the machines worked fine, but the third one just wasn’t working. Here is a look at the letter I typed up for the science center. As you can see I mentioned my family recently visited their location and had a great time. I was using the machine that did not work. If possible could someone please help press the coins we missed.
Here you can see that I actually included a picture of the machine and the coin design I was interested in. Since this place had more than one machine I wanted to be very specific with which design I wanted. Of course I take lots of video and pictures of all the penny machines I visit to share with you here and on our YouTube channel (please check it out and subscribe for great pressed penny videos). But many collectors don’t take pictures of the machines and that is no problem. Just make sure you list in your letter exactly which design you need, and if you remember try to include where the machine was located like in the gift shop by the exit to the zoo, or outside the restrooms on the second floor but he blue whale skeleton. Anything you can do to help make this easy on them will help increase your chances of a successful mail away.
Now this is very important, make sure to include the necessary coins to press. I usually like to place them in a small zip top bag, and attach them to a few index cards to keep them from moving around too much during shipping. You also want to make sure and include a self-addresses tamped envelope so they can return the coins to you. They are doing you the favor and shouldn’t be expected to cover the cost to ship them back.
Put everything in one larger envelope. I usually include “Attention guest Services or Customer Service” jus to help it get to someone that is more likely to help. Then seal it up and ship it out. This process is not always a quick one. I have had some mail aways that haven taken literally 2-3 months before the coins were returned. Once or twice I just never got anything back but those are pretty rare instances. Most times they are returned within a timely manner, it just depends on when their machine is fixed and ready to press again.
Here is an example of the package I received back from the Cox Science Center. As you can see they used my self-addresses stamped envelope to return the coin. I received a nice letter from the person that helped press the penny which I do find happens quite often and is such a sweet gesture and I always appreciate their kindness.
Well there you have it, that’s how I attempt to acquire pressed pennies from a broken or unavailable machine during my travels. As I said before if you make it as easy for them as possible, I find that you will have a much higher success rate. For the most part the employees at these locations seem more than happy to help us collectors get our much wanted pennies. Have you tried any of these methods on your adventures or do you have any other suggestions? Be sure to let me know down in the comments below.
Keep on Pressing!