Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Tossing Coins?

Hold on to your hats, I am about to have a major rant. Why is it so difficult to use cash during this pandemic? Mainly because almost all retailers are insisting you use cards to make your purchases. "That's no problem for me" you say.
Well then, you are among the wealthier section of our society.
But think about the ones behind you in the queue...
Many older people distrust computers, or are genuinely unable to get to grips with the technology. They do not want to risk the loss of everything by clicking the wrong button.They draw their pension out in cash each week, and carefully allocate their expenditure.
Many people on benefits work in a similar way - if they know how much they have in their purse, they know what they can afford to buy.
People who have struggled their way out of debt [often with the help of CAP or similar groups] now avoid using cards because they know what a hole they fell into when they were waving their card at every purchase.
And right now these people are genuinely struggling to cope - because every shop has a sign saying "Cards only"
Why is this recent blanket insistence on card use during the pandemic? Well, mainly because of two newspaper articles in the Mail and the Telegraph.
The latter, on March 2nd said "Banknotes may be spreading the new coronavirus, so people should try to use contactless payments instead, the WHO has said"
And the former declared on March 8th "The WHO has advised public against using paper money"
These two statements were based on a conversation with a WHO spokesperson who was asked whether banknotes could spread the virus, and replied "It's's a good question. We know that money can pick up all sorts of's a good idea to use contactless"
But the WHO were quick to clarify this did not amount to an official warning about banknotes. 
They simply restated the advice to wash hands frequently particularly after engaging with other people/goods in shops etc.[I'm not aware of the Telegraph or Mail making their error clear.]
There have been loads of sad stories circulating about people taking their carefully saved cash reserves into the supermarket to buy food for the family only to be turned away at the checkout. Or other people, self-isolating due to the virus, whose 'neighbours' offer to buy their groceries, take their card [and PIN] and only later discover more has gone out than they have received goods for.
The banks do not want to do away with coinage, it is the credit card companies who do.
But why do we need coins? I've been asked. People tell me that in time we will all just wave cards at machines, even in church. Last year we had a visit from two enthusiastic chaps, demonstrating their quick-pay-contactless-Sunday-offering system for churches. Personally I sort out my giving before Sunday morning -it's all done by monthly direct debit. But many people - particularly OAPs feelt hat putting their gift in the plate or bag is part of their act of worship. And children love to add their pennies.
I do know of some occasions when I want to use coins
  • each November when I buy my poppy
  • when I use cash in a shop, and put my change in the charity box on the counter
  • when I am out for a meal, and want to ensure all my tip goes to the waiters who have been so helpful, and not into the company till - when it sometimes doesnt get back to them
  • on a coach trip, when there's a 'whip-round' for the driver
  • when I buy a Big Issue magazine
Most of the recipients of those pennies are charities, or lower paid workers. 

As Rosie and George get older, the Tooth Fairy will probably visit [and surely she won't leave an Amazon voucher under the pillow, or a BACS transfer slip?] Generations of children have loved the birthday cards from aunties, uncles and grandparents with the message 'please buy yourself something special with this' and a crisp banknote or two folded inside. Children love coins. 
Rosie has a small coin jar and uses it for playing shops with her Mum.
One science lesson last week involved putting her dirty old pennies into a bowl of salt and vinegar and watch them come up shining.
 We had a great chat about coins and money. Our coins of the realm have a great heritage - my Grandfather worked at the Royal Mint, so I admit I'm rather biased. Please resist the efforts of the wealthy credit card companies to deprive us of our pennies. Everyone in society would be the poorer for it. 

And how on earth will people 'win the toss' to start their sports matches?


  1. I agree. As long as we follow the hand washing procedures, there's no reason why we can't use tangible money. Also, a fee is charged on smaller transactions.

  2. I've just visited our local bakers, they have just gone cashless. There was a very elderly lady in there who couldn't understand why she wasn't allowed to buy a loaf.

    1. How very sad. I hope someone else offered to buy it for her

  3. I have had only one instance where I was told that I couldn't use cash - although other shops "prefer" cards. If I'd felt like making a fuss I could have as I don't believe it's actually legal here to refuse cash but decided not to give the cashier a hard time.
    At one stage I did insist on using cash aa I needed change for the laundry (normally I buy rolls of coins every couple of months) and then of course I didn't have change for those begging on the street. Yes, the city does provide more shelter space during the pandemic but some won't go and some who beg actually have accommodation. Because I work downtown I normally keep some change in my pocket. I finally managed to get a new supply and have raided my coin jar early so I have what I need.
    I don't think that stores can actually legally refuse valid money so I'd be interested in seeing what happens if you actually insist on using money.

    1. Here in the UK a shopkeeper is within his or her rights to decide what payment forms they will accept. And refusing to accept cash is perfectly legal; 'legal tender' has a much narrower meaning in UK law that doesn't mean a shop has to accept it.

  4. It really is hard, and the evidence that anything can pass is shaky.

    It's not a new issue, though. During the Black Death, people were asked to put their coins into bowls of vinegar instead of handing to a shopkeeper or pedlar. If they could manage that so many centuries ago, surely they could work out that using gloves and sanitiser would be fine.

  5. Totally agree with you. This is an excuse to impose a cashless society on everybody. However, I have dealt with a few places that were cash only not cards. I know it can be difficult to keep track when you use cards rather than cash.

  6. I like to pay with cash for most things, then I don't get a surprise statement saying I have spent too much. I had to use a card in Dunelm recently to pay for two toilet brushes. I'm pleased that Aldi still take cash.


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