Coronavirus card payments: Thousands back Birds bakery manager

Birds in Radcliffe-on-TrentImage source, Google
Image caption,
Birds Bakery is a high street staple in many East Midlands towns

A former bakery manager at the centre of a row over taking cash payments has called for the firm to apologise to its customers.

Megan Metcalfe was sacked in June after she paid for customers' purchases with her own card so they could use cash.

Ms Metcalfe, 60, had worked at the Birds bakery in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire for 44 years.

The firm said Ms Metcalfe had been fired "with regret" but she had broken its coronavirus policies.

Two petitions have called for the bakery to reinstate Ms Metcalfe and accept cash payments, with more than 9,000 signatures on one and 14,000 signatures on the other.

Ms Metcalfe took 45 cash payments from customers totalling £183 over several weeks.

"I was made to feel really bad for helping lots of people," she said.

"These are the people that have been shopping with them for years and keeping their business up, and for them to just want to turn them away is disgusting.

"They [Birds] are not going to reinstate me, but they haven't made any form of apology to these customers.

"Not everybody wants to use card payments. Some people don't want a card and some aren't allowed one."

Image source, Birds Bakery
Image caption,
Birds Bakery has 60 stores in the East Midlands

Ms Metcalfe now has a job at a care home but said it was "wonderful" to have support through the petitions.

One of the organisers, Katherine Clarke, said people were "disgusted and outraged".

"Everyone is so angry about the way she has been treated," she said. "She was only trying to help her community."

Ms Clarke urged the bakery to look at ways to "safely handle cash payments".

"Don't discriminate against people that don't have a bank card, especially the elderly as that's their main customer demographic," she added.

CEO Lesley Bird said it regretted that Ms Metcalfe had to "leave the business" but handling money was a risk to staff.

"A lot of our customer base are the elderly and it is our responsibility to keep them, and our staff, safe," she added.

"Like many other food outlets, during this pandemic we have asked customers to only use debit cards because notes and coins are not clean."

Age UK has previously raised concerns about a "headlong rush" to a cashless society as businesses refuse to accept cash during the pandemic.

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