Asda stops woman paying for weekly shop with £2 coins - so what are your rights when paying with coins?

By Andrew Oxlade


A woman was turned away from the checkout at her local Asda store when she tried to pay for her £100 weekly shop in £2 coins.

She is the latest to have been pulled up for trying to settle a bill with coins.

But Joanne Bath, of Gosport, Hampshire, had the law on her side. She has had an instant apology from the company, owned by US giant WalMart, and was  given a £15 gift voucher.

Joanne was left fuming after staff refused to accept the 50 £2 coins and told her to come back with notes.

The 45-year-old ice cream lady, stormed off to see the manager, who said there shouldn't have been a problem and gave her a £15 voucher as a way of saying sorry.

Frozen out: Ice cream lady Joanne Bath, was turned away at the checkout of her local Asda store when tried to pay for her £100 shop with fifty £2 coins

Frozen out: Ice cream lady Joanne Bath, was turned away at the checkout of her local Asda store when she tried to pay for her £100 shop with fifty £2 coins

But when she went back to her trolley 10 minutes later to pay for her shopping, she discovered staff had put most of it back on the shelves.

Joanne, who runs a Mr Whippy van, said: 'I was furious because I had already spent an hour and a half doing my shopping. Every week I usually use £2 coins to pay for shopping in that store so it completely baffled me that they refused the money this time around.

'I don't understand why someone wasn't able to count the money whilst I was being served at the till. Most of the money I make comes in the form of coins.

After complaining to the manager Joanne was given a £15 voucher as an apology

After complaining to the manager Joanne was given a £15 voucher as an apology

'I try to bank some of it but I like to use my debit card for bills. I'm livid about the whole situation.'

Joanne was told to change her money at the Coinstar change machine in the store - it gives you a receipt which is then swapped for notes at customer services.

Joanne said: 'It's a ridiculous system. If I had loads of pennies then I would have understood but I didn't. A lot of people use £1 and £2 coins for their shopping.'

An Asda spokeswoman said 'We apologise to Joanne for the mix-up.

'We should have taken payment using the coins and we are sorry that we messed up this time. We have given Joanne a £15 voucher and hope to see her back in store, coins or no coins, soon.'

The law is firmly on Joanne's side. 

The amended 1971 Coinage Act states that 'gold' coins - £1 and £2 coins can be used to settle a bill of any amount.

However, those who have sought to make a point by paying in change have found themselves the wrong side of the legislation.

It was reported earlier this year that care home owner Robert Fitzpatrick dumped five crates of coppers - weighing a back-breaking 166kg - in his accountant Philip Lawrence’s front garden, in Colchester, Essex.

He was a disgruntled client who owed a bill of £800. He was ordered to pay his debt 'properly' by a court judge.

This is because the law is clear on the size of bills that can be settled with coins:

  • 1p for up to 20p cost;
  • 2p for up to 20p;
  • 5p for up to £5;
  • 10p for up to £5;
  • 20p for up to£10;
  • 50p for up to £10;
  • £1  for any amount;
  • £2 for any amount;
  • £5 crown for any amount.
End of the penny?: The 1p coin is unloved by small firms

End of the penny?: The 1p coin is unloved by small firms

As for the penny's future. A campaign has gathered pace this year to consign the 1p to history. It would follow the demise of other small coins in the 20th Century, namely the farthing and the much-loved 12-sided threepenny bit.

The end of the half-penny's short-lived existence in 1984, however, was widely welcomed. It had been introduced in that form in 1971. It meant a tweak to prices. Second class stamps - then 12½p - were raised to 13p.

There are still 11 billion 1p coins in circulation, but a growing number of Britons think we can do without one of the oldest coins in our history. The Federation of Small Businesses claims shopkeepers hate the penny.

Canada has already ditched its cent (known as a penny) — following similar moves in Australia and New Zealand to abolish their low-denomination coins.


The comments below have not been moderated.

YEAH but as she declared it for tax purposes I WONDER.

Click to rate     Rating   2

I strongly suggest we start a queue at her ice cream stand and pay in 1p,2p & 5p only and see how soon she gets fed up of counting small change. How mindless and selfish can you get?

Click to rate     Rating   15

Is that how ice cream sellers dress? I'd buy a wafer from her. The shop was crazy not to take her money and accept the trade.

Click to rate     Rating   5

If they got rid of the 1p coin then that would mean that prices would have to come down! For instance, a product costing £9.99 would have to come down to £9.98 because the retailer would not want to put it up to £10 because of the 'psychological selling affect' of having it under £10. For this reason I don't see retailers wanting to get rid of the 1p coin, it just means there will be lots of the much larger and heavier 2p coins around and retailers will lose 1p on every product!

Click to rate     Rating   6

Totally dumb on the side of Asda. By the time the the person serving her had refused to accept the coins & the lady had spoken a few words, the coins could have been counted & in the till. There is also the time spent putting the shopping back on the shelves to be taken into account. Waste of time all round.

Click to rate     Rating   16

oh yea use the coinstar they take 8.9% of your cash you know ?

Click to rate     Rating   27

oh forgoodness sake people do you really think she would have given an interview to a national/world newspaper if she was dodging tax emmmm DUH springs to mind.. and also about paying in coins - not everyone pays by card - i dont as i prefer to knowexacty what is in my bank at all times so my hubby goes to cashline almost everyday for cash and a statement and i also sometimes pay with coins when my £1 jar is full... x

Click to rate     Rating   7

Amazing how quick some people are to judge someone they've never met ! As long as the cash is properly receipted and recorded into the business, along with the usage so it can be determined how it is taken out (salary etc) then there's no absolute requirement to put it in a bank account. Why would people assume this is to avoid tax ? If their tax return is completed accurately there's no problem and a tax audit is nothing to worry about.

Click to rate     Rating   12

The journalist who found this story and allowed it to be printed has put this woman at definite risk of a tax audit. Well done Well worth it? Point not made, everything undermined

Click to rate     Rating   17

No one has thought about the amount of coins that can be kept in the appropriate drawer in the till! I feel sorry for the check out person who has to deal with this, and as has been previously pointed out, this is BUSINESS earnings, so should go into the BUSINESS account!! She's avoiding tax for a start, and her earnings should be investigated!!!

Click to rate     Rating   22

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