Zimbabweans are quite used to it now. You walk into a shop with a swagger, proceed to order, pull out your wallet/bag to pay, pull out the cash and the cashier gives you a firm head-shake. Usually, it is because you want to pay using a card (nobody wants RTGS dollars) or bond coins or notes. Or maybe because the note you are trying to pay with is torn but Zuva is taking it to another level according to one frustrated customer on Twitter.

Today @ 1809 hours, fuel attendants & supervisor @zuva_petroleum station Southerton rejected my $20 note citing that they have a directive to only accept 2017 series notes, mine was 2004. I had received it as change @TranservZW. Is this legal?

The customer’s statement on the issue

It’s not unusual but this is unusual

It’s not unusual for businesses in countries outside the United States to reject old US dollar bills. A quick internet search will confirm there is nothing unusual about this. These notes are still legal tender according to US laws but because they are older, their security features are also older making them easier to forge and making it hard for businesses in foreign countries to determine whether they are holding a counterfeit bill or not. To spare themselves the headache and hassle most foreign businesses just reject the older notes.

But here is the thing, accepting only money from 2017 is strange and makes little sense. The norm is that every note made from 2004-2006 is acceptable. There are so many $20 notes made in 2004 in circulation that accepting only notes from 2017 is likely to hurt business. Security cannot be the only reason for this stringent requirement that this Zuva service station has.