Round pounds are soon to be a thing of the past with the deadline for the old models looming.
The new 12-sided model for the £1 coin was introduced to stop fraud, with an estimated 1 in 30 of old £1 coins being fakes. All old pound coins must be spent by the 15th of October, after that they will lose their status as legal tender.
The new model for the coin was announced on the 28th of March, with a five and half month handover period during which both the old and new models would be accepted. Over a billion-pound coins have already been returned, but it still leaves an estimated 500 million still in circulation.
The new £1 has been described as the most secure coin in the world, with a string of anti-fraud details designed to prevent counterfeiting.
There have been some teething problems however, a small percentage of the coins initially released were found to be faulty, and not to be accepted by automated devices such as vending machines. The AA reported that around one in five local councils hadn’t updated their parking machines, meaning the new coin wouldn’t be accepted. TFL also commented saying that 27 of their machines at over ground stations would not accept the round pounds, but assured that each station had at least one machine that could.
Many shoppers have expressed their dismay at being handed old pound coins in change only a few days before the deadline. An organisation, representing 170,000 businesses has told its members they should allow a short period after the deadline to still accept coins Mike Cherry, the national chairman federation of small businesses said.
“The changeover period has been fairly short,” he said. “While no business is obliged to accept the old coins beyond the deadline, it would help if small firms knew they were allowed a short transition period to collect the old coins if they wish to, and are willing to bank them, but not give out to customers.
“This would provide a useful community service, allowing customers a few weeks to get rid of the final few pound coins in circulation,” he added.
It isn’t just the smaller retailers that are stepping up to do their bit for shoppers however, larger companies such as discount store Poundland have also stepped up and said they will continue to accept old £1 coins until the 31st of October. Barry Williams, Poundland’s trading director spoke with the Telegraph, saying it made perfect sense to keep on accepting the old coins. “Providing an extra convenience for shoppers to lighten their pockets while doing the weekly shop, rather than making a separate trip to the bank or post office, will come as good news,” he said.
Tesco have also said that they will keep on accepting the old pound coins. Initially they had planned to stick to the official deadline of the 15th of October, however a spokesman for Tesco was quoted saying: “we’ve been updating our systems ready for the new pound coins, but to help customers who still have the old coins, we’ll continue to accept round pounds at our tills and self-service machines for an additional week.”
Despite many retailors deciding to help the consumer and extend their own unofficial deadline, the royal mint has made it clear that they do not have to. A quote from their own website says “You are under no obligation to accept the round £1 coin from your customers and you should not distribute the round £1 coin. Please update your staff on what they need to do.”