A “cash fight back” has stepped up a level with retailers being urged to accept cash payments to at least to the same level as the new £100 contactless limit. The call comes from consumer champions, the UK Cash Supply Alliance (CSA), a not-for-profit cash industry organisation which is also encouraging frustrated customers to press their case with “refusenik retailers” and ensure payment parity for legal tender.
The pandemic has accelerated many retailers refusal to accept cash – one in three at its height – ‘due to health concerns’ and despite Bank of England research concluding that the risk of catching COVID-19 from banknotes is low . While the Bank’s research also found that the biggest Covid transmission risks in stores are actually from proximity to other infected people, touching a ‘high touch’ object such as the handles on shopping baskets or shopping trolleys, and products on open shelves.
Says Nigel Constable, Chair of the CSA, which launched last month: “We are frustrated by ongoing reports of refusenik retailers not accepting cash simply due to ‘hygiene issues’ when the Bank of England’s own research concluded this was simply not true and that there was actually a greater risk from other ‘high touch’ objects.
“Too many are refusing this legal tender based on bogus health reasons, rather than accepting they’re offering poor customer service to the 40 million adults in the UK3 who still regularly use cash.
“We’re advising consumers who want to use cash to make their concerns known to retail head offices or management, or simply move their custom to cash-supporting stores. We have some examples from our members where cash fight backs seem to have had an effect. For instance, after an intervention by a director of the CSA with Caffe Nero and the Scottish government, the coffee shop chain has now apparently reversed their previous decision to go “cashless” and now accepts cash again across the UK. The CSA welcomes this move and urges all retailers to accept cash.”