Hellers going out of circulation at midnight

There are people who still recall a time when a roll cost 30 hellers, a newspaper 50 hellers and a tram ticket 60 hellers. Eight ten heller coins would get you an ice-cream. When you dropped a ten heller coin you bent to pick it up -you didn't leave it on the ground like people do today. However those days are long gone. Today hellers have lost their value - they have become impractical both in the eyes of the public and the Central Bank. Their production cost surmounts their value which is why the Central Bank has decided to stop minting them and to take 10 and 20 heller coins out of circulation. As of midnight October 31st they will become invalid. The 50 heller coin - or half crown - will remain.

So what is going to happen to the price of goods which bear a price tag including 30, 70 or 80 hellers? According to the law the price of goods is to be rounded of to the nearest 50 heller coin - up or down. And, in an effort to gain new customers some of the big chain-stores have announced a client-friendly policy promising to round off all prices in one direction only: down. Some have also announced that they will continue accepting 10 and 20 heller coins from customers for some time yet in order to save them a trip to the bank.

So if you have any ten and twenty heller coins there three things you can do: spend them by midnight, take them to the bank and get them exchanged or donate them to charity. Branches of commercial banks and the Czech National bank will start exchanging the small coins on Monday and will continue to do so until the end of October 2004. The Central Bank will accept these coins for another five years. However public opinion surveys show that most people do not feel that a trip to the bank would be worth their while - not for a few crowns worth of hellers - so it seems that most Czechs will avail themselves of the third alternative: donating the hellers to charity. School children are already organizing competitions in who will collect the most hellers for charity. And charity organizations are setting up money boxes in supermarkets, schools and public places to make it easier for people to donate.

As for the hellers as such - they will melted down and recycled to serve some other purpose.