FURY AS THE POUND IS BANNED

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FURY AS THE POUND IS BANNED

Post  EarthsAngel on Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:18 am

FURY AS THE POUND IS BANNED
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Eurostar stopped passengers from using British cash to buy snacks on board its trains.

Saturday September 3,2011
By Alison Little, Deputy Political Editor

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OUTRAGE erupted yesterday after Eurostar stopped passengers from using British cash to buy snacks on board its trains.

The crazy ban was part of a controversial plan to ditch the pound on the company’s cross-Channel services and force passengers to pay in euros instead. Ukip MEP Gerard Batten last night branded the idea ludicrous.

“It would mean we couldn’t use our own currency on a train in our own country to buy a British cuppa and a Kit-Kat,” he said.

Tory MP Philip Davies said the scheme was “totally outrageous”. But last night the Daily Express forced Eurostar bosses to back down. We contacted the multi-national firm after hearing from an outraged reader about his experience of the proposed new system.

Eurostar initially said it was unsure when it would reach a final conclusion on the move to ban cash payments in sterling because it had to review customer reaction to a seven-day trial which ended this week.

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It would mean we couldn’t use our own currency on a train in our own country
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Ukip MEP Gerard Batten

But hours later it said customer feedback had convinced it to continue accepting the pound.

The move was warmly welcomed as a victory for common sense, although critics remained aghast that the company had even considered making the change in the first place.

London MEP Mr Batten took up the issue after being contacted by a constituent. He said: “Banning the pound on Eurostar was a ludicrous idea in the first place. Thank goodness the Daily Express took up my constituent’s complaint and that Euro­star has seen sense and back-tracked.”

Daily Express reader James Beedell discovered the ban on a return trip to France last Sunday with his wife and daughter and her boyfriend.

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On going to pay for coffees and snacks at the bar he was astounded to be told that as part of a pilot scheme he could pay cash only in euros, although on board literature still quoted prices in both euros and ­sterling.

Retired printer Mr Beedell, 65, said he had to talk staff into letting him pay in pounds on his debit card after they said that also could be done only in euros – although the company says that was a mistake because it always intended to continue allowing card payments in ­sterling.

Regular Eurostar user Mr Beedell said: “I felt shocked. I thought it was outrageous that passengers couldn’t pay in ­sterling. My wife, Nicole, who is French, also thought it was absolutely disgraceful.”

On his return to the UK, Mr Beedell complained but Euro­star couldn’t tell him how long the pilot scheme would last.

Mr Beedell said: “I made the point that the train does a good part of its journey in Britain where the euro doesn’t exist.

“I have a card that I can use, but other people might not or might not want to.

“They might have been on a short holiday to France or Belgium and spent all their euros and have only pounds left in their pocket.”

Tory MP Mr Davies said: “This idea was totally outrageous. When I was working in the private sector I didn’t care how people paid as long as they paid. You tried to make it as easy as possible for customers to hand over the money, not difficult.

“The fact they even thought about it seems to show total contempt for their British customers.

“It’s extraordinary they even thought it might be acceptable. All power to the Daily Express for helping to stop them in their tracks.”

Anthony Smith, of rail user watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “Passengers tell us they want choice when it comes to using the railway. We’re pleased Eurostar have listened to passengers and dropped this idea.”

A Eurostar spokesman said yesterday: “Like all businesses we continually monitor the range of products and services we offer to our customers and from time to time we trial new initiatives in order to better understand their views.

“Over recent years we have seen a decline in the number of cash-based sterling transactions as more customers choose to pay using debit cards.

“This prompted us to run a brief trial on board to gauge customers’ views about the possible withdrawal of this payment method at our buffets.

“Having listened carefully to the feedback from our customers it is clear that for many this is their preferred payment method and as a result we have decided to continue accepting cash-based sterling payments on board all our trains.”

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