Many shops and restaurants refuse to accept small change. Some are even putting up signs announcing that 10 and 20 cent coins are not accepted after banks began imposing a service charge for bulk deposits of small coins. 'We started not to accept coins when banks imposed a service charge for bulk coins,' said a snack store employee who declined to give his name. 'Many restaurants and stores in the wet market have similar policies.' With the introduction of the Octopus card in 1997, the government stopped minting the 10 and 20 cent coins, and banks started charging to accept them. Hang Seng Bank, for example, will accept less than 500 coins free of charge. For more than 500 coins, 2 per cent of the total value of the coins is charged and there is a minimum charge of HK$50. In other words, if you went to the bank with 500 10 cent coins, you would get nothing. According to the Consumer Council, 37 complaints were filed about shops refusing to accept cents last year, but a council spokesman said that the bank service charge had already been in place for more than 10 years. 'There was one time I paid for my meal with cents and the waiter pointed to the sign on the wall saying that they didn't accept cents,' said Henry Tsang Hon-wai, a regular cha chen teng customer. 'I wasn't going to put up with that and explained to him that, according to coinage ordinance, as long as I don't use cents for payment of more than two dollars they have to accept it. In the end the boss of the restaurant accepted the payment and the dispute was settled. It is just so annoying that you have money that you can't use.' Doctor Mo Pak-hung, an associate professor, at the Hong Kong Baptist University Department of Economics said, 'It is understandable that banks need to charge a fee for bulk coins because counting them is a very tedious job. In my opinion, it is a complete waste of human resources and I suggest using Octopus to solve the problem. If shops have Octopus, it is fine for them to not accept 10 and 20 cent coins but, if they don't, they should not refuse consumers using cents for payment.' According to the Consumer Council, however, businesses have the freedom to determine how they would like to receive payment, and consumers are advised to look for signs and notices in shops or restaurants regarding payment issues in order to reduce unnecessary disputes. Doctor Mo thinks that cent coins still have a function and should not be demonetarised. 'It's not as if inflation has taken cents off the market,' he said. 'There are still many shops and restaurants that label their products or dishes in dollars and cents. Back in the old days, the one and five cent coins were phrased out because of inflation, but that is not the case now. Cents should be kept.'