Essex

Mum's copper coins refused by First Bus

Hand holding copper coins
Image caption A bus driver refused to accept 25p paid in 1p and 2p coins

A bus company has apologised to a passenger who was told she could not travel when she tried to pay part of a 60p fare in 1p and 2p coins.

Laura Pulley, 35, wanted to travel a few stops on Canvey Island, Essex, with her four-year-old daughter.

The driver said he did not have to accept the coins, which are legal tender for amounts under 20p.

A spokesman from bus group First said it was not a policy to refuse travel to anyone paying with small change.

"I thought he was joking when he said I couldn't pay 25p in coppers. I said 'That's all I've got on me' but he said I couldn't travel," Ms Pulley told the BBC.

She said the driver called police, and an officer spoke to the driver before offering to pay her bus fare.

"We were concerned to learn of Ms Pulley's experience on board one of our buses," said the First spokesman.

"We will be contacting her directly to apologise for any embarrassment or inconvenience caused."

Image copyright Laura Pulley
Image caption Laura Pulley was getting the bus with one of her daughters when she was told she could not travel

Ms Pulley said she had been left "upset and embarrassed" by the altercation, which happened on Monday lunchtime.

"No one should feel embarrassed for using coppers, it's the Queen's money," she said.

"I'd used my last bit of loose change at the bakery beforehand. I couldn't believe the audacity of the driver to tell me I couldn't travel."

Ms Pulley posted a message about her experience on Facebook, which attracted dozens of responses.

"The majority of people were quite rightly saying you pay with a note and you get the same sort of reaction, the drivers say they haven't got change," she told the BBC.

"A couple of ex-bus drivers had thrown their two pennyworth in, but other than that people were supportive."


Legal tender

  • The Coinage Act 1971 says 1p and 2p coins are legal tender for any amount not exceeding 20p
  • If you want to pay in 50p pieces, you can do so for any amount up to £10. £1 coins are accepted for any amount
  • Legal tender has a "very narrow and technical meaning in the settlement of debts", the Royal Mint says
  • But both parties are free to agree to accept any form of payment whether legal tender or otherwise according to their wishes

Source: Royal Mint and Coinage Act 1971


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