Daily Mail

The shops that don’t want your money...

...or at least, not if you try to pay in cash, as more and more frus­trated read­ers have found. So can hard-hit re­tail­ers re­ally af­ford to be so picky?

- By Vic­to­ria Bischoff and Fiona Parker v.bischoff@dai­ly­mail.co.uk Mobile Payments · Money Tips · Personal Finance · Banking · Dining Out · Financial Technology · Finance · Business · Lifehacks · Recreation · World Health Organization · United Kingdom · Financial Conduct Authority · Kirkintilloch · Kirkintilloch · Glasgow · Greggs · Bath · London Gatwick Airport · Orpington · Orpington · Center Parcs · HM Treasury · Waterstone’s · Lincolnshire · Ambleside · Lake District · U.K. Treasury

Bri­tAin is fac­ing a cash cri­sis, with shop­pers rou­tinely turned away when they try to pay for goods or ser­vices with notes and coins.

Money Mail has been flooded with emails and let­ters from read­ers who say they had to walk out of shops empty-handed after be­ing told they could no longer use cash.

Some had left their bank card at home and don’t have a smart­phone that stores their pay­ment de­tails.

Oth­ers just didn’t want to use their card to make small pay­ments for news­pa­pers, greet­ings cards and con­fec­tionery.

par­ents have also told of be­ing forced to run to restau­rants where their chil­dren were din­ing out with friends be­cause the young­sters didn’t own a debit card.

One reader vis­it­ing her fa­ther in hospi­tal couldn’t buy a drink be­cause she had left her debit card at home in her rush to leave the house, but the M&S cashier re­fused to take cash re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances.

Money Mail has learnt that the City watch­dog is meet­ing major banks, the post Of­fice and cash-ma­chine providers next week to dis­cuss ways to safe­guard ac­cess to cash, such as branch-shar­ing among banks.

But while pro­tect­ing ac­cess to cash is es­sen­tial, it is also vi­tal that ur­gent steps are taken to en­sure peo­ple can still use it.

So, to­day, the Daily Mail is calling on busi­nesses up and down the coun­try to end dis­crim­i­na­tion against cus­tomers who pre­fer, or need, to use cash.

re­mov­ing cash as a pay­ment method at such a crit­i­cal time is a dev­as­tat­ing blow for the elderly and vul­ner­a­ble.

Cash use has been in de­cline for years, as peo­ple in­creas­ingly switch to con­tact­less pay­ments — where you can now spend up to £45 just by tap­ping your card against a reader. But the pan­demic has has­tened the trend be­cause of fears that han­dling cash in­creases your risk of catch­ing Covid-19.

Yet the Bank of eng­land says the risk in han­dling a ban­knote ‘is no greater than touch­ing any other com­mon sur­face, such as handrails, door­knobs and credit cards’.

even the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion hasn’t ad­vised against us­ing cash. it only re­minds peo­ple to wash their hands af­ter­wards, as most of us would any­way.

peter Mcna­mara, chief ex­ec­u­tive of noteMa­chine, which runs 11,000 cash ma­chines, says: ‘Cash is ex­tremely safe, as it is ef­fec­tively quar­an­tined in AtMs for long pe­ri­ods of time, whereas your card is used all over the place.

‘there is a study by Cred­itCards.com and the Univer­sity of texas show­ing there are more types of bac­te­ria on credit cards than on cash and coins.

‘We need to ed­u­cate busi­nesses and urge them not to dis­crim­i­nate against such a large num­ber of peo­ple.’

ex­perts have warned that Bri­tain is not ready to go cash­less, with eight mil­lion peo­ple — about 17 pc of the adult pop­u­la­tion — in dan­ger of be­ing left be­hind. One adult in ten says they do not know how they would cope without cash, according to the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity (FCA).

THe prO­pOr­tiOn is even higher among those who are vul­ner­a­ble.

About 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK have no bank ac­count, per­haps be­cause they have a poor credit his­tory or can­not pro­vide proof of ad­dress. Oth­ers on low in­comes rely on cash to bud­get.

it is also a life­line for those with car­ers or who need help shop­ping and don’t want to hand over their bank de­tails.

De­spite this, many shops, cafes and restau­rants have in­tro­duced a blan­ket ban on cash since they re­opened after lock­down.

Many peo­ple mis­tak­enly think shops must ac­cept cash, as it’s legal ten­der. But all this means is that if you tried to set­tle a debt in full with cash, no one could sue you for fail­ing to re­pay. Shops, though, are free to in­sist on what­ever pay­ment form they wish.

thorn­tons says it is only ac­cept­ing card pay­ments ‘to help cre­ate a safe ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one’.

prezzo has made all of its restau­rants cash­less ‘ to keep guests and staff safe and healthy’.

Oth­ers say they pre­fer card pay­ments but will ac­cept cash if there is no other op­tion. But you may be able to use it only at cer­tain coun­ters or self-ser­vice check­outs — and one Money Mail reader was told they could pay by cash only if they had the ex­act change.

Some re­tail­ers claim they ac­cept cash only for in­di­vid­ual stores and staff to then refuse it.

Money Mail reader Joy price, 76, was told she could not use cash to buy an £8.99 book at Wa­ter­stones in Bos­ton, Lin­colnshire.

Joy, who lives with her hus­band trevor, 81, says: ‘i handed over a crisp £10 i’d got out the ma­chine just ten min­utes ear­lier but was told they only take cards.

‘i said if this is be­cause of germs, then how is my card, which has been in and out of my purse and other ma­chines, any bet­ter? She said they couldn’t clean cash.’

Yet when Money Mail re­ported this to Wa­ter­stones, the re­tailer said, ‘it is not true that our shops don’t per­mit the use of cash’.

And when our re­porter vis­ited the twick­en­ham branch in June, staff were happy to ac­cept cash.

An­other reader, Craig Hag­gart, a 56-year- old univer­sity lec­turer, was told he couldn’t use cash be­cause of the virus at Sains­bury’s in Kirk­in­til­loch, east Dun­bar­ton­shire, and Dob­bies Gar­den Cen­tre in Glas­gow.

Again, both re­tail­ers as­sured this pa­per that, while they en­cour­age cus­tomers to pay by card where pos­si­ble, their stores ac­cept cash.

read­ers have also re­ported be­ing un­able to use cash in bak­ery Greggs, de­spite the chain claim­ing it is still ac­cepted ‘na­tion­wide’.

ex­perts say in­di­vid­u­als may think that by re­fus­ing cash they are help­ing to re­duce the risk of the virus spread­ing.

But the lack of con­sis­tency has left cash shop­pers feel­ing ner­vous that they could be turned away — which, in turn, could cost strug­gling re­tail­ers, par­tic­u­larly smaller stores, vi­tal in­come.

One reader told Money Mail she had to aban­don a £45 per­fume pur­chase at the Bath House, in Am­ble­side, while she was on hol­i­day in the Lake Dis­trict, as she only had cash with her at the time. ‘Surely they can’t af­ford to be turn­ing down sales,’ she says.

Mar­tyn James, of con­sumer group re­solver, says: ‘Lock­down is no ex­cuse for re­tail­ers to try to force peo­ple into a cash­less so­ci­ety.

‘Busi­nesses can’t af­ford to go rogue and in­tro­duce this sort of pol­icy when cash poses no more

risk than other pay­ment meth­ods. Just think how many peo­ple have touched that card ter­mi­nal or touch­screen at the su­per­mar­ket check­out.

‘And a lack of front­line bank­ing ser­vices, with many branches now shut­ting at 2pm, also won’t be help­ing.’

Last month, Money Mail re­vealed that some banks are still open for only four hours a day.

Chauf­feur Les­lie Jef­feries says he can no longer pay in cash to park at Gatwick air­port.

Les­lie, 62, from Or­p­ing­ton, Kent, pre­vi­ously used a mix­ture of cash and cards when col­lect­ing pas­sen­gers at Ar­rivals. But drivers at short-stay car parks can now only pay at the barrier as they leave, where just cards are ac­cepted.

Les­lie says: ‘ Coins were just tipped into a drum be­fore, so I don’t see how the virus can spread to an em­ployee through that.’

The good news is, some re­tail­ers that banned cash pay­ments at the start of lock­down have changed their minds and now ac­cept it.

Ikea, for ex­am­ple, in­sisted on card pay­ments when stores re­opened in May but, since Au­gust, has been ac­cept­ing cash if cus­tomers are elderly, vul­ner­a­ble or have no other pay­ment method. Its restau­rants, how­ever, are still cash­less.

Pizza chain Domino’s says it is ‘care­fully look­ing into rein­tro­duc­ing cash trans­ac­tions’.

But ex­perts fear some busi­nesses may never bring back cash.

Cen­ter Parcs, for ex­am­ple, which is not ac­cept­ing cash at any of its hol­i­day vil­lages, was non­com­mit­tal when asked if its de­ci­sion was per­ma­nent.

A spokesman said: ‘ As with all our mea­sures, we will re­view them in line with na­tional guid­ance.’

The FCA has told banks to do more to en­sure cus­tomers have ac­cess to cash, as they are ax­ing branches and re­mov­ing ATMs.

In March, min­is­ters promised to pro­tect peo­ple’s ac­cess to cash — but no fur­ther de­tails have been an­nounced.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, says: ‘The Government has com­mit­ted to in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect ac­cess to cash, but this risks be­ing un­der­mined if the peo­ple who rely on it in­creas­ingly have nowhere to spend it. It must now pro­vide busi­nesses with clear guid­ance on how to han­dle ban­knotes and coins safely.’

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Ac­cess to Cash re­view, says: ‘Most of the de­bate about ac­cess to cash has fo­cused on get­ting cash. But be­ing able to spend cash is equally im­por­tant and there are grow­ing con­cerns that ‘ cash ac­cep­tance’ is un­der threat. ‘ Some re­tail­ers are ban­ning cash in re­sponse to Covid fears. Oth­ers are go­ing cash­less be­cause it is get­ting harder and more ex­pen­sive to bank their cash tak­ings. ‘ There are ways to take cash safely. Shops that don’t ac­cept it are say­ing to the most vul­ner­a­ble in so­ci­ety ‘ you’re not wel­come here’. A HM Trea­sury spokesman says: ‘‘We recog­nise that cash re­mains ex­tremely im­por­tant to the daily lives of mil­lions of peo­ple across the UK, which is why we are co- or­di­nat­ing work across government, reg­u­la­tors and in­dus­try so we can pro­tect ac­cess for ev­ery­one who needs it.’

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