The first time we were refused change for a U.S. $100 bill was in trying to pay the exit tax at the airport on Grand Bahama Island. It wasn't that the airline counter agent didn't have the change. She told us the airport would not take one of the new Franklin 100s or U. S. Grant 50s because there was a counterfeiting "alert" out on these notes. One of the ironies of this is that the redesign of the 100s and 50s, issued in 1996 and '97, respectively, was undertaken partly to make the notes harder to counterfeit. (Partly, too, to make them more legible to the aging, less-acutely-sighted U.S. citizenry.) Money illustrationAnother irony is that the counter in the Bahamas airport that refused the note was not that of a foreign flag carrier but a good old U.S. one. Since then, we have had similar problems with the new Grant and Franklin notes: at a money exchange in Alsace, France, and at the airport cambio in Santiago, Chile. After the latter incident, we contacted the Treasury Department, to hear what, if anything, it knew about this. Roger Anderson, a deputy assistant secretary, said the department conducts regular surveys on use of its currency worldwide, in order to ensure there is "100% acceptance" of all notes, and especially the new ones. Anderson added that the department would be looking into the incidents Insider reported and that any "alerts" did not issue from the U.S. government but must have been based on local suspicions. What's got us worried is that redesigned 20s will be on their way shortly -- by the end of this year, Anderson said -- and the smaller denominations are to undergo similar changes thereafter. Annoying as incidents like these are, on behalf of the tellers who have refused our 50s and 100s, we must say we agree the new bills do look a bit like board-game money.

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