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Tesco relents and tells staff to accept £20 coins after customer uses them to pay for fuel

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

Brett Chamberlain with one of the distinctive silver £20 coins outside Tesco in Tiverton

Comments (2)

RETAILER Tesco say they can accept payment using commemorative £20 coins after a Tiverton man’s insistence on paying for his fuel by that method led to him being banned from the store.

Brett Chamberlain had a previous run in with staff at the Blundell’s Road store three years ago when he attempted to pay for fuel with small denomination coins he found using his metal detector.

The kitchen fitter says he has attempted three times to pay for fuel using the coins which were launched by The Royal Mint last year and described on their website as ‘official, legal tender’.

Most recently after filling the tank of his diesel Peugeot 406 at the Tiverton Tesco filling station on Wednesday night, Mr Chamberlain attempted to pay the £87.49p bill using five £20 coins.

Staff told Mr Chamberlain they had checked with the company’s legal team and would not accept payment in this form and so police were called.

Eventually partial payment in £20 coins was accepted by the store but Mr Chamberlain was told by staff he was banned from the petrol station and the garage.

A sign was been placed on fuel pumps by Tesco advising customers. “We are no longer excepting commemorative coins, ie. £20.00 coins. Please make sure you have significant funds to pay for your fuel. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

Mr Chamberlain said: “I pointed out to the Tesco staff that the signs are grammatically incorrect, and should presumably say accept NOT except which might suggest they do accept them.

“I think the fact there is a grammatical error on the sign is hilarious, but it is obviously directed at me. I am not a confrontational person thought and don’t want an argument with anyone, however I do feel that it is not right that Tesco should be telling us what coins we can or cannot use as long as they are legal tender.”

Mr Chamberlain insists he was in the right because as the petrol was provided before he, the customer paid for it, the retailer had to accept the customer's offer to settle the debt using legal tender.

Mr Chamberlain said he had a “boxful” of £20 coins at home having ordered a quantity when they were launched by the Royal Mint last year.

He said he did not believe he had caused any inconvenience to other customers, though he admitted some people couldn’t understand why he insisted on paying using unorthodox currency.

A spokesperson for Tesco declined to comment on the details of the case but acknowledged that the coins were legal tender.

The spokesperson said: “There are so few £20 coins in circulation many of our colleagues are unfamiliar with them. We are letting our colleagues know they can accept the coins”.

The signs on the forecourt have since been taken down.

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  • BrettCha  |  March 31 2014, 11:10PM

    Tesco have banned me from spending £20 coins in the their fuel forecourts even though they claim to the journalist of this paper that they will accept them. The Royal Mint has been making the coins of Great Britain for over a thousand years. Currently, the legal tender coins of Great Britain, according to the Mints website are the £20 coin, £5 coin, £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p & the 1p coins. It was a matter of Tesco head office policy to refuse to accept coins made by the body, permitted by the Queen and treasury to make the money of the realm. Under threat of police action I have been told I am not to attempt to spend certain coins of the realm in their stores. Their excuse is that their bankers wont accept them either. Tesco have previously refused to accept payment of fuel with coins of various denominations within the legal tender rules and called the police when I refused to use another method of payment even though I have always been well manered and polite, but refused to provide my name and address. Seeing as £1 in every £7 is spent in Tesco on the high street, surely its of national interest that this retail giant dispute the acceptablity of these British coins, bearing the Queens head and made by Royal decree. The £20 coin is made from 15.71 grams of silver and can be exchanged from the Royal Mint for £20 including postage. £20 notes on the other hand are made from valueless paper, the same as Zimbabwe's notes, and we all know what happened to them. The coins are legitimate currency with inherent value which ought to be accepted for payment. Silver coins were removed from circulation in 1948 and this is the first oppertunity to have the choice to reinstate them. Even the copper is being removed from the 2p and 1p coins and replaced with steel. Where will this end? Hyperinflation? Sterling is the worlds oldest currency so is well past its sell by date.

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  • lephreek  |  March 31 2014, 4:43PM

    He's put so much time and effort into causing a scene and making a point. Silly.