I recently realised during the “Beast from the East”, no not Eddie Hall, he’s the “Beast from the East Midlands” that the final day to spend the old paper style £10 Bank Note was the 1st of March 2018, and I had 1 left in my emergency cash stash. I had no plans to go anywhere but did want something in the “Middle Aisle of Lidl” so rather than go to one of the 2 nearer Aldi’s, the nearer Asda and Sainsburys I made the special trip to Lidl which is 3-4 miles away in Siberian weather.
Upon arriving I looked around, while not specifically looking for them I did not notice any signs telling me they wasn’t accepting the old style paper £10 notes or any indication they wasn’t following the Bank of England’s official line. The official requirement was you accepted them until 23:59:59 on the 1st March 2018. I proceeded to pick up the items I went down for and some other shopping coming to a total of over £31 and headed to the till to pay. At this point I still noticed no signs saying Lidl had stopped accepting them early or anything else. Part way into tilling my goods I checked if I could pay part by cash and part by card as I wanted to use some cash and I was told yes. The chap on check-out noticed it was an old £10 note and said he’s not sure if he can accept them any more and checked with the other check out person who confirmed the same.
I clarified the Bank of England says Midnight 1st March 2018, the newspapers and TV was all quite clear the 1st March was the final day. Both open tills had half a dozen or more people at each queueing several of which agree’d and confirmed today was the final day. The checkout person tells me his manager told him not to accept them, so he’s unable to accept them, sorry.
I asked to speak to the manager and ask the managers name, which I’m told is Bob (fake name to protect the guilty), but Bob doesn’t have a surname. Because the checkout person hasn’t been there very long so doesn’t know his surname. When Bob arrives I asked his surname as I intended to complain, he declined to give it to me. I asked him who told him not to accept the paper style £10 notes he told me is his Boss; I asked for his bosses name, which he wouldn’t give me. I asked for the store managers name, I needed a name to put to this, which he told it wasn’t the store manager who told him not to accept them so wouldn’t give me the store managers name either.
I asked to clarify did his actual boss tell him not to accept the £10 note, at which point it changed to head office told him not to accept them. I tried to clarify who exactly at head office told him not to accept them at which point he tells me a piece of paper in the back office with no name on it, and he’s not exactly sure who put the paper there. I pushed further and tells me its a bit of paper which says “sales” on it that’s it. I wonder if I put a piece of paper there which says everything in the store is £1 today, if they would follow that blindly too ?
I explained the BoE situation and that it was still legal tender and it was potentially against the law to refuse the £10 Note, aside from the fact I was a regular customer and I had risked driving in the snow and ice in to a badly gritted car park, wasted my time walking around buying the shopping, queueing when they should have opened more tills, and legally he should accept my payment in lieu of the debt I owe.
For clarity, if I had been told on entry we don’t accept £10 notes, like many shops have signs which say we don’t accept £50 or £20 notes, a shop can refuse to serve you, and thus doesn’t have to take your notes I wouldn’t have bought anything as my only reason for going out was to spend the £10 note. However this doesn’t apply when you owe a debt. In theory, because my goods was tilled through, I owed a debt and this was my angle. I’ll admit its murky ground and not clear cut. On assumption my position holds, I could have paid them with 11 x £1 coins, 20 x 50p coins, 50 x 10p coins, 100 x 5p coins, 10 x 2p coins, 16 x 1p coins which would have been legal tender or any other legal tender including the £10 note.
I learned this from a news story some years ago about a man settling a fine with pennies. The Americans don’t have any such coinage act as referred to in the above story, so you can pay any bill with any amount, such as the man who paid his bill with 300,000 pennies delivered in 5 wheel barrows weighing in at over 750kg.
My issue is, it would have taken less than a minute to clarify the BoE position and accept the £10 as a gesture of good will, instead the store management decided humiliating a regular customer in front of at least a dozen or more other customers was the best course of action.
I visit that store multiple times per week and spend hundreds per month, and the customer loyalty is repaid this way, by cutting off old paper notes in the middle of the biggest cold snap in 30 yrs without any warning, humiliating a loyal customer with no chain or command to supersede.
Interestingly, Aldi said they was accepting the notes no problem, and they expected they would accept them a little longer than the 1st March 2018 as they have with other money. Sainsburys also confirmed they was accepting the notes but wasn’t sure if they would accept it any longer.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this, Aldi, Morrisons and some others have officially confirmed they will be accepting the notes beyond the 1st March Cut Off.