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Shops must accept high-value Euro notes and 1/2cent coins - Commission

Monday, 22 March 2010
Have you ever been in that situation when all the cash you had was either in small coins (the pennies or ‘shrapnel’ as I call them) or in big denominations of banknotes such as €200 or €500? No? Well me neither actually, but should this ever happen you would hope to be able to use this money to buy something in shops right?

Reading a recommendation issued today by the European Commission, it is clear that they feel the same.

According to this document, retailers should not be allowed to put up signs banning the use of high-value banknotes, and that “high denomination banknotes should be accepted as means of payment in retail transactions.

However, they can be refused as form of payment “from time to time” if it made “grounded on reasons related to the 'good faith principle'” – in other words that a shop-owner is out of change at a given moment.

At the other end of the scale, the aforementioned shrapnel should reclaim their intended roles as means of payment. In some member states, such as Finland and the Netherlands, rules have been adopted allowing prices to be rounded up to the nearest five cents to avoid using the tiny coins.

But “where rounding regimes have been adopted and prices consequently rounded to the nearest five cents, 1 and 2 euro cent coins should remain legal tender and should continue to be accepted as means of payments,” the recommendation advises.

In adopting the recommendation, the Commission said it was only a series of guidelines on the use of notes and coins, but if they are not satisfied with the way they are being applied by member states, the guidelines could become rules.

Nonetheless, the Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn (from Finland) believes that these recommendations will bring “practical benefits” for European citizens in their everyday lives.

It is a matter of consumer rights that payments in cash should, as a rule, be always accepted in shops," he said.

A final interesting statement in the document shows the Commission also stating that retailers should not impose additional charges on the use of cash instead of credit cards.

Now while this has, to date, not actually been imposed by any shops that I am aware of, the possibility of doing so does in theory exist and so it would seem the Commission is keen to stamp out the idea before it materialises…

Now that’s an effort worthy of a tip I’d say. How about a load of my euro shrapnel pieces?

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