Pound coin chaos as parking machines and shops fail to meet Royal Mint deadline

Pound coin chaos as parking machines and shops fail to meet Royal Mint deadline:

The withdrawal of the old £1 coin was mired in chaos on Monday after it emerged that thousands of parking ticket machines and shops have yet to fall into line with the new rules.

Car parks serving as many as one million motorists a day have defied the Royal Mint’s deadline for updating their machines to accept the new coin.

It means drivers who have already spent all their old £1 coins, as instructed by the Royal Mint, are at risk of having the wrong change.

Meanwhile major retailers and food chains including Tesco, Holland & Barrett and McDonald’s were still handing the coins back to customers in change on Monday.

This is despite them having ceased to be legal tender at one minute to midnight last Sunday, after which time they became technically worthless.

Stores accused of handing out old coins as change said the incidents were “isolated” and put them down to human error.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that as many as 5,000 car parking machines across the UK, which serve between 30 and 200 parking spaces each, are still not ready to take the new coins.

And some cash-strapped councils are not planning to update machines for five months until February, the date when it will be compulsory for them to undergo annual maintenance, the British Parking Association said.

Such a delay could result in nearly 200,000 extra parking fines issued over the period, or around 1,200 a day. Some 9 million parking fines are issued every year, BPA data shows.

A spokesman for the BPA said: “We would advise people to carry carry a variety of different change to avoid getting caught out.”

Councils are reserving the right to issue parking fines to drivers who say they have been unable to pay for tickets because of out-of-date machines.

But Neil Sargent, motor law specialist at Duncan Lewis solicitors said drivers caught out by this have good grounds to appeal fines if they have not paid for a ticket.

He said: “Machines not working properly is a defense which can be used successfully in an appeal, however it may not always work.

“It is a legal grey area as the old coins have gone out of circulation, meaning the machines should be ready to take the new ones. However as time goes by local councils may decide that people should be aware that parking machines may not accept new pounds and should make sure they have other change to hand.”

A spokesman at coin handling firm Maggi Electronics, which updates machines for parking, vending and entertainment companies, said the number of calls it was taking from firms quadrupled as “panicked” firms realized they had fallen behind schedule.

He added that the parking industry had been “especially slow” to adapt to the changeover.

Meanwhile a raft of stores defying the Royal Mint deadline and changing their policies at the last minute to accept the old £1 coin, is growing by the day.

Now John Lewis and Waitrose have become the latest retailers to soften their approach and will now accept the old coins until Saturday.

John Lewis said: “All our systems and trolleys are ready for the new coin. However, we want to be helpful to our customers and, if they have no alternative ways of paying, we will continue to take old-style coins until the close of trade on 22 October.”

The Treasury declined to comment on how it would respond to shops flouting the rules by handing out old £1 coins after the deadline.

H/t reader Squodgy:

“In Government we Trust….. erm!!!”

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