Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Calm down dear

Posted in Business, Customer service, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed, Media by Chairman Pip on 5 September 2011

I think it is fair to say that it is a given, when there is an intercity transport link that connects places in two different countries, that, in the event of goods and services being provided en route, you would expect the currencies of both nations involved to be accepted equally, whether in coin, paper or plastic form. That is just plain common sense. I have been on flights both to Europe and across the Atlantic, and on all of the aeroplanes I have been on, euros, and dollars of one type or another have been accepted alongside sterling. I have been on ferries across the Strait of Dover where both sterling and euro has been acceptable for transactions, while I have no doubt that, given that various businesses on either side of the Irish border accept both, that Enterprise will probably do so as well. So, I think you’ll agree that it was something of a crass move on Eurostar’s part to decide, somewhat arbitraily, to only accept euros for cash transactions on its trains that, after all, do travel through the United Kingdom as well as France and Belgium; while passengers heading towards Paris or Brussels may well have a significant amount of cash in euros, passengers heading for London will more likely have cash in sterling. Fortunately, Eurostar, realising the monumental PR blunder, quickly reversed this decision.

Except, as you may well guess, it was picked up on by both the Daily Express and the Daily Mail, who naturally saw it as another vicious attack on “British sovereignty” by the giant boogerman that goes by the name of “Europe” (isn’t it funny how, in certain quarters of the British media, the prefix “euro”, whether used in connection with the EU or not, is now seen as harbinger of all ills?).

“Eurostar’s arrogant bid to phase out British pound”
“Pound stays as Eurostar is forced to backtrack”

The fact is, Bank of England notes and British coins are classed as legal tender within England and Wales, and thus should always be accepted within that jurisdiction – that is the law of the land, which meant that, had they attempted to continue with the policy, then Eurostar would have been liable to be taken to court. Although traders can accept any form of currency as payment (which is why the euro is accepted in many locations, even in the United Kingdom), Bank of England notes must be accepted in England and Wales. So let us admonish Eurostar not only for being crass, but also having a shit legal department that failed to warn them of the legal implications of instituting this policy when it was implemented, but probably (upon being made aware) made it clear what they could and could not do. But let us give no credit to the likes of the Daily Express, where none of this is mentioned at all.

While there are many issues in regards whether banknotes are "legal tender", in England and Wales Bank of England notes must be accepted. That is the law, and it is that, not "campaigning" by the right-wing press, that will have changed Eurostar's decision


One Response

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  1. Louise said, on 5 September 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I have also been on cruises to Scandinavian countries where they will accept all forms of currency relating to the countries enroute even though the cruise company is Scandinavian based. It does seem remiss of Eurostar to act in this way….common sense anyone???

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