Something needs to change, say Inveraray retailers
SHOP owners in Inveraray endure a daily test of their customer service skills as frustrated tourists ask them for change – dozens of times every day.
And retailers warn that visitors will move elsewhere over problems with change for parking meters and the town’s toilets.
Argyll and Bute Council’s parking meters, which will not accept the new £1 coins, is a well documented issue.
But shop staff are being left to deal with irritated visitors with many, it is claimed, being less than polite in their demands for coins to fill the meters.
‘I’ve been forced to stock up on old pound coins at a time when we’re supposed to be taking them out of circulation,’ said Inveraray florist Kenny MacLachlan.
‘I can get a dozen people a day asking to exchange coins.
‘The point is that tourists come here maybe after driving for hours. They might have children with them and they want to park.
‘If they can’t, they’ll go somewhere else. Visitors are our lifeblood in Inveraray, so it's not good enough.’
Near the Inveraray pier area the problem is even greater, according to one shop proprietor.
‘We can get up to 50 people a day looking for change for the meters and the toilets,’ said Ian Lindsay of the Pier Shop.
‘What bugs us is that it costs us money at the bank for change – so we’re doing a service for Argyll and Bute Council, getting all the hassle and it’s costing us money as well.’
‘Folk will come in, demand change, then walk out without buying a thing.
‘And we can’t put all these no sales through the till every day or the accountant wonders what’s going on.’
The Advertiser spoke to one such visitor as he tried – without success – to feed the parking meter beside the Pier Shop.
Joe Cachia and his wife were on holiday from Valetta in Malta, here for their first trip to these shores.
Less than impressed with the meter, he said: ‘The machine has already taken 20p and won’t give it back, and I see it doesn’t take the pound coins I have in my pocket.’
He added: ‘If a local man hadn’t pointed out the time to me, and said that we didn’t need a ticket at that point in the day, we would have jumped in our car and moved on.’
The old pound coins will cease to be legal tender from October 15.
A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘All meters will be compatible with the new £1 coins by the time the old coins are phased out in October. It should be noted that all machines accept all other coins, including £2, 50p, 20p, 10p and 5p.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused in the meantime.’
Maltese visitor Joe Cachia was on the point of leaving Inveraray after meter frustration.
Kenny MacLachlan has been forced to get ‘old’ pound coins from the bank to help visitors.