Saturday, September 20, 2008

What is the Point of a £50 Note?

About two weeks ago I was given a £50 note. Since then it has stuck to me like superglue. No matter where I try to spend it, I am greeted with pursed lips and told: "Sorry, we don't accept £50 notes".

Will I ever be able to get rid of the damned thing, or is it going to be the monetary equivalent of herpes - with me for life? Not that I have got herpes, I should make clear. :)

55 comments:

Marquee Mark said...

Hang on to it for a while. With Gordon's inflation figures, you'll soon need it to by a cup of half-time coffee....

jdc said...

I used to work in a Comet years ago, and we took them. Buy a new telly.

Chris Paul said...

Banks take them Iain. And swap them for coin or note of more convenient magnitude. unless that is they are fakes. Which is why others are wary.

sousbois said...

Suggest you give it to the first person to comment on this post. Wait...

Panopticon Britain said...

Gah. The dreaded fifty.
The most annoying thing in the world is when someone pays you with a fifty for under a fiver's worth of shopping.
God, I hate customers.

John Wedgwood Pound said...

Ian,

It is legal tender so vendors have to accept it. If they refuse you can take the goods and go! Wouldn't make good headlines though!

I suggest adding it to the collection plate at a Church near you this Sunday!

John Wedgwood Pound

Morus said...

They are almost exclusively for gamblers Iain.

Go to any casino and the £50 note is pretty much the most common denomiation of currency in use. Bookmakers at the top end use them too.

If you are transporting significant amounts of cash (in the £1000s) there is no way you want to be dealing in anything less. In fact, the gambling industry would be pretty screwed without them.

strapworld said...

Donate it to your favourite charity.

Not only will it make you feel better it will rid you of the offending note.

Geoff said...

Here in EuroLand we have a EU500 note. Excellent for money-laundering but not very much good for buying milk at the local corner shop.

Tuscan Tony said...

I noticed the £ 50 plague problem when last in England and was very surprised. Here in Euroland I quite often hand over a € 200 (say £ 150) note, and get it accepted and receive change without a blink. Perhaps that's because it looks like Monopoly money and the actual value isn't obvious from its appearance. The mauve € 500 note is a rare beast, but have never had any issues in using one here.

Pete Chown said...

I'll give you £45 for it.

Patrick Vessey said...

Keep it for ten years, and it'll be worth twenty quid. Far easier to unload.

Anonymous said...

john wedgewood pound is correct - the whole point of legal tender is that courts force people to accept it as payment of debt.

If they refuse to take your 50, write them down your name/address and walk out of the shop - then they'll take you to court, and you can explain how they refused to take your legal tender. They are effectively undermining our (broken) monetary system, and the judge will smack them.

Perhaps your local shopkeepers are being shrewd and know that we're heading for hyperinflation Zimbabwe-style and would rather you paid in yuan?

Jake said...

I Spain 200 and 500 euro notes are not accepted in a lot of places even for large purchases due to concerns of forged notes.
However they are useful if you want to carry a million in a brief case. Apparently.

MikeyP said...

Give it to Gordon, I hear he is a bit short of cash!

Ian McKellar said...

You should be aware that the Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and Royal Bank of Scotland each issue £100.00 notes and have done so since the War.

(I remember coming across in the early 1970s a Royal Bank of Scotland £25.00 on which the Chief Cashier's signature was hand signed)

Heaven knows how the shops you have quoted would cope with that. Alternatively offer one in payment for a meal. If refused, all you have to say that their "actions in refusing legal tender has rendered the contract between you and them null and void. Goodbye and thank you for an excellent meal.Any problems contact me at ............."

Anonymous said...

Can't honestly say I've had the problem, but put £50 worth of petrol in your Audi and I'm sure they'll take it.

beachhutman in Beijing said...

You see, if it was a 500 EURO note, you could have a career as a drug smuggler or money launderer, like everyone else who uses them. Alas, we're outside the Euro....

Anonymous said...

I was given several when I changed Euros into pounds last month when returning from a trip to the continent. I used them without difficulty on my weekly trips to Tesco.

haddock said...

It could be worse, you could have been lumbered with some of that scotch monopoly money . I always refused to accept that as payment, legal tender or not.
One reason for refusal is that the notes are not familiar and therefore you are far more likely to be fobbed off with a fake.... those scotch notes of any denomination or the £50.
John Wedgwood Pound; Could you actually prove to a shopkeeper that a note was genuine and therefore 'legal tender' ?

Anonymous said...

Iain, typical of a Tory to be flashing their cash. No-one cares. Take it to a bank.

Liam said...

Iain, the question should be, when are they going to put Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the back of a re-designed £50 note? The current one is very old now, and with the £20 redesigned they need to do something with it.

The campaign for IKB on a new £50 starts here!

Anonymous said...

Er, just take it to a bank...

Many moons ago, at the bank where I started my career, a guy used to come in and ask for a thousand quid in £50s, in a sealed, stamped plastic envelope, for his 'weekend spending money'.

The most annoying thing was that despite being a 'flash git' he was actually also incredibly pleasant, and therefore impossible to dislike from a 'Harriet Harman' class war angle..

Which just goes to show you can have nice people, badly behaved people and complete w@nkers at all levels and strata of society.

Dave H. said...

Hold Andrew Bailey to his written promise. There might be enough to be visible to the naked eye.

If he doesn't give you the precise equivalent, sue him.

eddie said...

You have a fifty quid note? No wonder you Tories have the image of a bunch of toffs! I never have anything bigger than a twenty - and I rarely have one of them for long.

Blooming rich people complaining about the burdens they have to carry! Come the revolution, everyone complaining about fifty quid notes will be put against the wall and shot.

True Brit said...

JWP: "It is legal tender so vendors have to accept it. If they refuse you can take the goods and go!"

Legal tender for the payment of a debt yes, but that doesn't mean that someone has to sell you something (i.e. to create the debt for which a £50 note is then legal tender...).

I suppose in contract law terms, if a shopkeeper isn't willing to take your money then there's nothing you can do about it - the contract isn't formed until they give you the goods and you pay for them...

As for all the pedants who say "it's legal tender, they have to take it", yes, but, the same school of pedantry would also note that there is no obligation in law for a shop to give you change for your payment - they all do of course, because they wouldn't stay in business long if they didn't, but there is no obligation in law, as I understand it - so your £10 purchase with a £50 note that you insist a shop takes might end up costing you £50, if we take such pedantry to its logical conclusion!

On a related point, Scottish notes aren't legal tender anywhere, even in Scotland - but, of course, most shops (even in England*) are happy to take them (money is money, and their bank will take them at face value anyway!).

(* the exception tending to be foreign shop assistants who play it safe when it comes to things they're ignorant of).

Ron Todd said...

If you don't want it I will have it. That bugger Brown is leaving me with less every month after all the bills are paid.

Two years ago I could just about break even over a month. Now I will soon be starting a month already in the red.

Tim Hedges said...

Buy a round of drinks in an English pub (shows how long it is since you've done it). Actually I don't think the legal tender comments are right: when I studied law £50 was only legal tender for goods costing a certain amount. When they came out I was stuck at London Bridge in the rain. No taxi would take it, all I could do was buy an umbrella!

scallywag said...

HMRC will accept it...

hatfield girl said...

£50 isn't much more than 50 euros. Where are you doing your shopping they won't take the standard middle value note?

frank bough said...

A £50 note impresses hookers when you use one to snort a line or two of coke off their jugs.

Anonymous said...

Never mind Iain it could be worse you could have a Scottish £100 bank note.In that case you'd have the double problem of the large denomination and the fact that anywhere south of Carlise refuses to accept Scottish Bank Notes anyway under the false presumption that they are not legal tender and must be exchanged at a bank

Man in a Shed said...

Maybe we should have Gordon Brown on it - as its impossible to get rid of...

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

That's the trouble, Iain, when you've got LOADS OF MONEY!!!

In the Bank of England museum you can see some very old bank notes, written to order, for such sums as £19.4.6d. Imagine trying to spend one of those!

Anonymous said...

If anyone is about to give me Scottish notes I kindly ask for proper British notes, can't be arsed with the potential hassle of Scottish notes

verity's lovechild said...

Use it to buy some silver bullion, then bury that in the garden for when the pound collapses.

patently said...

A £50 note impresses hookers when you use one to snort a line or two of coke off their jugs.

Very true, but (for Ian) not a terribly useful suggestion.

nick said...

I guess you might be able to use it to get free coffee. In Spain once, on the road from Malaga to Granada, we stopped at a roadside bar for a coffee (my Wife LOVES Spanish coffee). A Spanish gent next to us tried to pay for his coffee with a 500 Euro note - the owner refused to accept it, but the man said he had no other cash on him. Result - free coffee. Maybe £50 isn't quite big enough but it would be worth a try!

dick the prick said...

It's because you live in London, or rather where the density of people is significant. Get thee to the sticks dear boy.

I'm still utterly shell-shocked at what happened yesterday. It's the economic equivalent of when Maggie was killed.

Just watched the Brown whatever, speech I guess, Verger calling for the new roof more appropriately, but am willing & content to give the lad some time. Can you imagine anything worse than being in that party than being stabbed by them. I know the Tories do it quick but should circumstances arise I'd hope I'd shout it to the leader in private or have it shouted at me in that same fashion. This is Jeremy Kyle fodder.

daniel said...

In some jurisdictions, a currency holding the status of legal tender can be refused as payment if no debt exists prior to the time of payment (for example, where the obligation to pay arises substantially contemporaneously with the offer of payment). Consequently vending machines and transport staff do not have to accept the largest denomination of banknote for a single bus fare or bar of chocolate. Shopkeepers can reject large banknotes — this is covered by the legal concept known as invitation to treat. However, restaurants that do not collect money until after a meal is served would have to accept that legal tender for payment of the debt incurred in purchasing the meal.

Edward said...

I find £50 notes very useful, especially when accosted by street beggers.

"Sorry mate, I have no small change, only a bunch of fifties, so p**s off ..."

:-)

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Try giving a Scottish Fiver to a waitress in Cardiff. They act like you have ejaculated in their hand.

Twig said...

Sorry to hear about your problem Iain, life's a bitch, isn't it?
You should ask Sky for a cheque next time.

Didn't the Burmese junta make five hundred kyat notes illegal to control inflation some years ago.
Anyone holding them had to lose them double quick for fear of being arrested.

You ought to spend your £50 double quick before Darling/Brown read this post and cotton on.

If you take your Audi up thru the M1 junctions 9-10 (the 4 laned area that is still referred to as "the road works" even though there are none) at 70mph the £50 quid problem will be solved with the help of the, still active, average speed cameras enforcing the so called "temporary" speed limit.

True Brit said...

anonymoron at 5.41pm: "If anyone is about to give me Scottish notes I kindly ask for proper British notes, can't be arsed with the potential hassle of Scottish notes"

Presumably you'd accept a guaranteed cheque or a card payment though?

In which case, a Scottish note is at least as good (arguably better than a cheque) - there's no bank in the UK that wouldn't take it and credit it to your account as cash, which is more than they'd do for a cheque).

People who refuse to accept Scottish notes when I happen to have them don't get my business ever again. Simple as that!

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that a betting shop would take it off your hands...or change it up for you.

Why dont u go into your nearest bookies and put it on GB to be gone by Christmas?!

Or on the SNP to win Glenrothes, though u won't make much on that.

Anonymous said...

Wrinkled Weasel, those are some interesting facts you draw my attention to. I must mention this to my dining companians the next time we frequent a restauarant in Cardiff. It will certainly make for a wild time. Does this normally occur before or after the main course and do the waitresses expect a tip for this unusual service or it is THE tip?

tapestry said...

How do you know you don't have herpes? 90% of herpes virus carriers are asymptomatic.

In most countries over 25% of the population carry it.

Send me your GBP 50.

I'll exchange it for 50 Euros.

Now there's a currency with real high denomination notes - including the 500 Euro, popular with international drug cartels.

Ron Todd said...

'Try giving a Scottish Fiver to a waitress in Cardiff. They act like you have ejaculated in their hand.'

Not being familiar with any Cardiff Waitresses I don't know if that would be a good reaction or a bad one

Unsworth said...

I'll tkae it off your hands - how much do you want for it?

Arthur said...

Send it to Help for Heroes.

Manfarang said...

A Bangkok money changer will take it.There is one on Phyathai Road near the Maboonkrong Centre.
Security at the airport in Britain may stop you and ask how much money you are taking out of the country.

Reading Glasses by Daniel Cullen said...

I wonder if the equivalent Euro note is more readily accepted on the continent?

Anthony Lawton (CEO) said...

Centrepoint, the successful national youth homelessness charity, is having a briefing breakfast on Monday morning. Could you please pop along and donate the £50. We would use it well - colleagues will tell you how! We would happily give you change if you do not want to give it all to us! Anthony Lawton (CEO)

Lola said...

Iain asks "What is the Point of a £50 Note?" Seigniorage for the gummint/central bank.

fifi_100 said...

I tried to pay for a meal in a restuarant yesterday (well know Italian chain)...after being made to feel like a criminal following several members of staff looking suspiciously at the note, I was informed that the till did not have enough change to provide we with £30...likely story...and was asked to pay by card. Then they had the cheek to try and add service charge to the bill! ...went to the bank and changed the note into £10 notes. Just as well I so very rarely have a £50 note in my purse!!