This time, a printing error called "mashing" – when too much ink is applied to the paper – has rendered 30 million bills totally useless, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) confirmed to the New Yorker's David Wolman.
"This time, recent batches of cash from the Washington, D.C., plant contained 'clearly unacceptable' bills intermixed with passable ones, according to a July memo to employees from Larry Felix, the bureau’s director," Wolman explains. "So the Fed is returning more than thirty million hundred-dollar notes and demanding its money back, Felix wrote.
Another thirty billion dollars’ worth of paper sits in limbo awaiting examination, and Fed officials have informed the bureau that they will not accept any hundred-dollar notes made at the Washington, D.C., facility until further notice."
This is only the latest in a string of screw-ups that have kept the $100 bill out of circulation well past its original 2011 due date. Another printing error caused bills to be printed with a blank spot. And just a year ago, thieves made off with a massive shipment of the new bills.
Now, the Bureau is on damage control, sprinting to meet an October 8 deadline to get the notes printed – correctly – and finally into circulation.
A BEP spokesperson told BI they are "investing this issue to determine the root cause" and will start by re-inspecting the notes to sift out any tainted ones."
The $100 notes returned to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had a small proportion of notes affected by mashing, which were included with many, good, quality notes. It’s expected only a marginal fraction of the notes will be unacceptable," the spokesperson said.
In the meantime, taxpayers will likely be left to pick up the tab for disposing of the bills and whatever extra time is needed to print them again.