Is it legal for large retail store to refuse e.g. 200 Euro banknote if there is no change? If this differs among EU countries, Estonia is of primary interest. Thanks!


To clarify: you're asking whether a store can refuse your 200 EUR for arbitrary reasons (i.e. not the reason that they would have to give you a large amount of change)?

If so, then yes, this is legal pretty much anywhere.

The EUR notes are legal tender in the Euro countries, but this only means that they must be accepted to settle debt. And a normal store transaction involves no debt because it is, in a legal sense, a carefully choreographed exchange that is optimized to minimize friction and potential for legal problems in everyday situations:

  • First, the store puts up merchandise and displays a price. But this is not considered a binding offer but merely an invitation to treat, basically the store invites you to make them an offer to buy the merchandise at that price.
  • By taking the merchandise to the cashier, you're making that offer, which the store can accept or reject.
  • By taking your payment, the store accepts your offer, and at this moment a purchase contract materializes and is automatically closed.
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    @PavelGrafov Estonia or EU isn't Russia ? So why will Russian laws apply there ? You joking, right. – DumbCoder Jun 20 '14 at 12:45
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    @PavelGrafov: Just because it sounds ridiculous to you doesn't mean it's not true. There may be additional laws that prohibit discrimination, but generally, you cannot force someone to do business with you, and practical reasons like the lack of change is most definitely a legal cause to refuse. – Michael Borgwardt Jun 20 '14 at 12:50
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    @PavelGrafov The basic right to choose (which also means to refuse) under which circumstances and with whom you want to do business is called "freedom of contract". There are exceptions (imposed by specific laws) for essential goods and services. – Michael Borgwardt Jun 20 '14 at 12:57
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    @PavelGrafov - What would you propose that a shop-owner do in the case that there is insufficient change? Give you a note promising that change will be provided at a later date? If you're willing to give up your EU200 note without receiving adequate change, I guess the shop owner had a lucky day. – Nathan L Jun 20 '14 at 20:04
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    In the US, the shopkeeper's certainly allowed to refuse any bill they suspect may be counterfeit, and it isn't uncommon for stores to generally decline to accept large bills for this reason. To prove discrimination, you need to show a pattern of bias, not a single case which appears to have reasonable justification. – keshlam Oct 4 '15 at 14:29

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