NEW YORK — A newsstand proprietor was overheard saying he wouldn’t change a $10 bill for someone unless the person bought “something.”
Customers at the newsstand on the corner of 25th and Broadway said the man seeking change was angered and stormed off because he was required to buy something in order to get change.
“He was saying that he needed to use the payphone, but didn’t have any change,” said Shirley Davis, who stopped to buy a Snickers bar and this month’s Elle magazine.
The man, who walked away furious, was described as an “average-looking banker type.”
Newsstand operator Hamil Siilbajuil said he cannot just give change to everybody. “I cannot just give change to everybody. I need to make money. This a business to make money.”
Siilbajuil said he occasionally can be compassionate and has been known to give change. “One time this woman come and say she want change for dollar. I say no! Then she begin crying because she say it was emergency, and I feel bad and give her four quarters for the one dollar. But I tell her I will not do it again for her.”
Mike Relant, an advertising executive who picks up his daily New York Times at Siilbajuil’s stand, said he’s heard Siilbajuil deny change to others in the past.
“Oh yeah, this guy, he won’t give you change. I always buy the Times here anyway so I always get change, but if you don’t buy something he’s not giving you change — he’s kind of like the soup nazi from Seinfeld, only in a newsstand.”
A spokesperson for the city’s department of consumer affairs said merchants are not required to give change, but did encourage the practice saying, “it’s the nice thing to do.”
She said her office does receive regular complaints about merchants not giving change, but said the number of those complaints fail in comparison to the number of complaints against merchants who prohibit the use of their restrooms to anyone who is not a customer.