Fast food chain McDonald’s has been condemned for a decision to ban Scottish banknotes from a string of branches south of the Border.
A franchisee who owns ten branches of the burger restaurant in the Lincolnshire area has told staff to refuse to take Scottish notes, blaming problems with counterfeit notes. But critics have accused Martin Cuthbert of being “anti-Scottish” and urged him to train staff to deal with fraudulent notes rather than inconvenience customers.
The new policy came to light when the family of an English schoolgirl tried to spend money sent to her by Scottish relatives in the restaurant in Sleaford – one of the McDonald’s branches run by Mr Cuthbert.
The 16-year-old and her father Mike Gregson tried to pay for their meal with a Scottish bank note given to her as a gift from relatives in Aberdeen for passing her exams.
Mr Gregson said: “The worry is if I hadn’t swapped notes and my daughter had tried and been refused she would have been distraught.”
It is believed the policy was brought in by Mr Cuthbert around a month ago at all of his branches of the store. It comes eight years after a McDonald’s franchisee in Wales imposed a similar ban on accepting Scottish notes. Meanwhile, earlier this year, staff at retailer TK Maxx also refused to accept Scottish notes at a store in Milton Keynes.
Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for health and sport in the Scottish Government, criticised the move.
The MSP for Dundee City East said: “I am extremely disappointed to learn of this decision taken by the franchisee of ten McDonald’s branches. While individual businesses do have the ability to not accept certain notes, I would expect businesses on all parts of the UK to recognise Scottish banknotes as legal currency and to accept these as they would English banknotes. I would urge the owner of these branches to seriously rethink this policy.”
Mr Cuthbert refused to comment. A member of staff from the Melton Mowbray restaurant said: “It’s something recent, over the past few weeks. Some other branches were having a lot of issues with counterfeits.”
A McDonald’s spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Cuthbert was not accepting notes printed by RBS, Bank of Scotland or Clydesdale. She said: “Individual operators of our restaurants ultimately decide on what tender to accept based on a number of factors.”
She added: “This is not an anti-Scottish policy but instead a decision taken by a franchisee, based on a number of factors.”