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#1 jnelsoninjax

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 22:42

A WOMAN strapped for cash at the petrol pumps fell foul of a bizarre law after trying to pay her £30 fuel bill in copper coins.

Staff at the BP garage in Queens Drive, West Derby, told 24-year-old Louise Munro that they could not accept the 1p and 2p pieces she offered after her bank card failed because of a system failure.

Ms Munro, from Roby, who went home to raid her piggy bank for the loose change to settle her debt, was even told by police over the phone that the garage was correct in refusing the payment after a row broke out.

According to the Royal Mint, 1p and 2p coins are legal only if something is bought for just 20p or less.

Under the little-known Coinage Act 1971 it is illegal to use 21 or more 1p pieces in a single transaction.

Ms Munro, who denied she was being vindictive by handing over coppers, said: “I admit it’s annoying to have to count pennies but that’s all I had and I’m not the kind of person to leave a debt hanging. I wanted to settle it as soon as I could.

“As far as I was concerned it is legal tender – it has the Queen’s head on it and why would they produce them unless they could be used?”

The dispute happened on Sunday afternoon after Ms Munro’s RBS debit card was rejected because of the bank’s system troubles.

She claimed that the cashier asked her to leave a deposit in the form of her phone, driving licence or diamond ring, but declined to do so.

Instead she returned three hours later with two money bags filled with carefully counted-out coppers.

But after the garage searched the internet to see if they could accept the change they stumbled across a newspaper article from earlier this year telling of an accountant who was sued for trying to pay an £800 bill in coppers. There they learned of the Coinage Act 1971.

A phone call to the police also confirmed that Ms Munro’s payment contravened the Coinage Act.

Garage worker Mugeen Mohammed said: “My colleague saw that it was UK law that you cannot pay £30 in coppers.

“He confirmed that with the police, even they looked it up on the internet.”

Mr Mohammed said the petrol station has not cashed the loose change and wants Ms Munro to return with an alternative form of payment.

Merseyside Police confirmed they were contacted over the dispute but said it was a “civil matter”.

Under the Coinage Act, you can spend up to £5 in 5p or 10p coins or up to £10 each in 50p and 20p pieces.
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#2 Digitalfox

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 22:47

You know what? I applaud the woman, she had a debt and tried to pay as soon as possible. Rare these days....

Now, sure it's like the cents of Euro, paying with 1 and 2 cents coins 20€, is unthinkable, but to me more important was the attitude of trying to pay as soon as possible.


Update: Maybe I should delete my post ->

This is outrageous. I am a cashier at the garage and i witnessed the incident on Sunday afternoon. Ms Munro bitterly refused to leave a deposit and then threatened my colleague saying the would purposely come back to pay in copper coins just to spite us and inconvenience us. None of it was our fault, her card was declined, she should have checked she had money available before filling up her car with fuel! She came back and threw the bags of pennies on the counter as promised, and laughed in our faces.


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#3 Farstrider

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 22:49

Utterly pathetic, when money is not money anymore???? I would have told the petrol station to give me their EFT details and then make them wait for a week before I paid it!

#4 Detection

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 23:28

A system failure is not her fault, she had the ability to pay with her card.

I know just about every single corner shop everywhere I have lived will accept as many 1p and 2p coins as you like so long as you have them bagged in money bags of £1 so they can weigh them to make sure there is £1 per bag

#5 +jamesyfx

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 23:36

I didn't know this was illegal, however... I would refuse to sell somebody something if they paid in nothing but copper coins if it was a large amount. The logistics of it all wouldn't be worthwhile.

#6 Stealthy_Singh

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 23:55

Fact is the garage could accept it if they wanted to but I don't blame them for not doing it. No law was being broken. Legal tender means that no one can complain if she paid less than 20p in 'copper coins' but nothing stops anyone accepting more, it's just they can refuse and demand a different form of payment. I worked in my family shop and we accepted 1p and 2p coins for high amounts if they were sorted into bags and weighed correct but we didn't need to.

The point is the woman was asked to leave collateral and she refused. I'm inclined to believe the garage side of events, in that the woman was being vindictive in trying to pay with the coins (I admit I may be wrong). This is because there appears to be no reason for them to try and prove they don't have to accept the coins as that would be more work than counting them. The fact she refused to leave collateral serves to add weigh that the woman wasn't too interested in paying her debt promptly and conveniently. If my card was declined at a petrol station and I didn't have the cash I would be mortified and would offer a proof of ID as collateral (as long as I had a receipt for it) until I returned with the cash.

I'm also annoyed at the paper (and possibly the police but their explanation might have been misconstrued) not understanding the issue of legal tender themselves before printing a story.

#7 Edrick Smith

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 23:57

Sounds like someones not reporting right or something, or the british just cant write an article. What is a system failure if it's a failure because of their merchant then she shouldn't have to leave her personal property and that's absolutely stupid they asked for those three items. If a system error is just the brits way of saying she didn't have the cash then why not say that?

#8 peter_uk

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 00:07

What is a system failure


The problem the woman had was that she is a member of RBS Bank or one of it's parent companies. Just last week they tried to update their bank processing software and it crashed. Took them around 1 week for any payments to be processed. Thats why the woman wasn't able to pay and that's what the author meant by a system failure.

#9 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 00:25

Sounds like someones not reporting right or something, or the british just cant write an article. What is a system failure if it's a failure because of their merchant then she shouldn't have to leave her personal property and that's absolutely stupid they asked for those three items. If a system error is just the brits way of saying she didn't have the cash then why not say that?

The RBS banking group suffered from a major computer failure after a system update which meant that payments which should have been processed failed. It received widespread news coverage, with bank branches opening for longer hours and on a Sunday (a day banks are usually closed).

At the end of the day the merchant was in the right. If the woman had behaved in a civil manner then it's quite possible / likely that they would have accepted such a payment, particularly given the circumstances (the bank failure). However, by acting in a confrontational manner she brought it upon herself and deserved the treatment she received. Paying such a large bill in pennies is incredibly disruptive to business, as most businesses are simply not staffed to deal with such payments.

#10 Inklin

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 00:37

I think getting rid of 2p and 1p coins is long overdue, other countries have got rid of such small denominations of money because their value is so tiny with how expensive things are these days.

As they are they are worthless, weigh a lot in any meaningful value and are a pain in the proverbial to count. I think they should be axed

#11 SpeedyTheSnail

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 00:46

On another note, I would not trust to leave my belongings for collateral. I know that in the US it is generally understood not to pay in pennies/ large quantities of change. I used to work at an ice cream store and this little kid was so proud to be buying his own ice cream, however he was paying in pennies and quarters for $10 worth of ice cream. It took forever to count, and the only reason that I cared to accept it, was it was a little kid [even though it's legal tender for ALL debts].

#12 Growled

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:42

Hey, money is money. Take it and be thankful you've got it.

#13 Javik

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:44

I never even knew this was a thing, I've handed over more than 21p in 1's before and never been questioned.

#14 McKay

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 01:50

I think getting rid of 2p and 1p coins is long overdue, other countries have got rid of such small denominations of money because their value is so tiny with how expensive things are these days.

As they are they are worthless, weigh a lot in any meaningful value and are a pain in the proverbial to count. I think they should be axed


What about everything being £*.99 what would we get for change?

#15 Bonfire

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 02:31

Don't they have Coinstar machines there, or something like them?