Pub Cat is just there to grab your attention.

While I upload 367 photos to OneDrive, here’s 2 issues I’d appreciate some thoughts on.

Firstly, forming queues in Wetherspoons.  What’s so bad about it ? The alternative is eight people strung along a bar, and a barman asking desperately;

Right, who’s next ?”

Pint of Carling”  says the bloke who just got there

But I was first !” says the lady with the complicated food order

She was first, actually” say I, acting as peacekeeper/troublemaker simultaneously

If you don’t think that happens, join me at St Neots tomorrow lunchtime.

Of course, this inability to know who’s next is due to a long bar, understaffing, and customers shuffling along the bar; I rarely see the problem elsewhere.

Once I’m at the bar in Spoons, I tend to pay by Contactless.  This is because I want to speed up the transaction and avoid the need for staff to get change.  I get a bit fed up when staff stick their palm out toward me at the same as saying “£4.29” or whatever, as counting out coins takes precious seconds.  So I figure Contactless is doing them a favour.

Outside Spoons, I’d pay in coins, though on occasions when they’ve had to change a note I’ve had the odd whinge that made me wish I’d paid by card.

Tom Irvin will say, perhaps rightly, say you should always calculate the required sum in your head and have the correct change ready in your hand. That’s harder when you have meal deals on your porridge, “go larges” and CAMRA vouchers to factor in.

From only ever using cash, I now go Contactless for most purchases in supermarkets, restaurants, railway stations etc.

But today, in an (anonymous) brewery shop, after I’d paid for a bottle of beer (£2.58) by Contactless, rather than give him a twenty to change.

That just cost us 15p you know, that transaction“.

It was said after I’d paid, to let me know he was a bit grumpy about it.  I was a surprised the fee was that high (6%); frankly if I’d known beforehand I’d have given him the cash.

I’m sympathetic to tight margins in the industry, though frankly I’ve spent about £30 in their pubs in the last week, so they’ve probably had that 15p back off me.

All views welcome.

NB While I think about it, I now use contactless for all my double espressos in McDonalds on those terminals that save queueing, but presumably cost Ronald 6p on every coffee.


  1. R.E. the cost of contactless – It’s a high margin, but it suggests that the brewery shop might not be turning over a lot (depending on what the choice of supplier is) – the scale tends to slide to a lower margin as amount of transactions gets higher. Certain banks are also starting to charge for getting change etc, so the difference between costs of payment methods is getting lower. It does tend to be a bit more costly for the business to process cards though.

    As for Wetherspoons – that issue isn’t unique r.e. who’s next. A certain bar I know has such issues with it that a standard queue system has been informally adopted – it’s an annoyance that I hate. It seems unreasonable that you should know the cost of your round, I never have any idea how much things will cost – particularly when you order a half in a place that does two thirds etc.


      1. I agree. As an overseas visitor I think the traditional method teaches a lot of great behavior. These are patience, politely letting others take there turn, and casually talking with strangers as you wait. It encourages one to be efficient and to think of others. All good things to me. Much better than a line, or queue, listening to people complain about how slow the line is moving.


  2. They dont queue in our local Wetherspoons,but the bar is usually well staffed and the good people of Stapleford usually know is next to be served even if the bar staff dont,so we will say it is him down the bar or her next to me then i am next,it is £3.23 for a pint and half of the guest beer and i do try and give the right money or add the 23p to a £20 or £10,it would be harder if not a local who knows the prices.
    The three Wetherspoons in Rotherham had a queue when i did them,i think it is done in understaffed Wetherspoons and the queue is usually long while you wait for twats wanting to drink coffee.
    I have never used a card when out anywhere,i always use cash.


  3. I never realised businesses got charged for using contactless before.
    The long bars in Wetherspoons and who gets served first is a problem I associate with the Waterend Barn in St Albans too. I avoid it on Fridays and Saturdays because the customers get ugly. For the staff – one often starting that day – it’s like tending a stadium so I don’t blame them for not seeing who’s. The queues go both down the bar and project out from it. I think you’re right about using contactless there – the situation’s begging for it.


  4. Simple answer to complaining about the cost of a contactless transaction is not to bloody have it! Seriously, offering a payment method then moaning about the cost?! Makes you wonder about their business acumen. On the queuing front, working men’s clubs still do up north and it saves the annoyance from impolite queue jumpers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Businesses also incur charges for processing cash… But I guess a lot of people might be using a “personal” bank account rather than ‘fessing up to the bank that they’re doing business banking…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Banks are very good at detecting business activity on a personal account and pointing out the T&C’s for the latter.


  6. I’ve just asked two publicans if their card machine providers, Barclaycard and Worldpay, charge extra for contactless and they both told me they actually get charged slightly less than for a chip and pin transaction. Neither pay anything like 6% either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s possible there’s a minimum charge, and it’s possible McDonalds and Wetherspoons margins are much bigger than an independent brewery. I was surprised it was that high though.


      1. One of the two has a fiver minimum charge to cover the transaction charge, the other (Tynemouth Lodge) doesn’t bother. He also encourages cashback which has additional charges but it’s still cheaper than paying cash into the bank.


  7. Telling you that the transaction just cost 15p is appalling business practice, especially afterwards. If it really is a problem, they should have a sign saying something like “Due to high transaction costs, we prefer payments under £10 in cash”. Some shops apply a surcharge to low-value card payments.

    Also bear in mind that the charges for credit cards will be considerably higher than those for debit cards.

    Personally I steer clear of using cards for everyday transactions as I feel sticking to cash gives me a better feel for how much I am spending.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with all that. If he’d mention it would cost them 15p I’d have let him give me £17.50 worth of change and thought him quite proactive; doing it after left a sour taste.


  8. ‘Spoons staff would be bloody rubbish at picking out a villan in a police line up, what’s needed is a ticketing system similar to when you have a blood test or at the deli counter at Morrisons, are you listening Tim Martin?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Other Spoons problems are caused by the choice – food orders, complicated coffees, cocktails – all managed by barstaff rather than a dedicated person. Also that strange thing where they look up the price on the till in front of you, but then walk all the way down the bar to put your money in a different one.
    These all seem to be solved by the Spoons app: bloke next to me the other day was having his Kopperberg brought over to his table with minimal waiting time. It did look as if he could use the exercise, mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All good points. If I think about most other pubs, it’s just drinks orders, and you’ll often get table service if you’re eating, or there’s a separate area of the bar for food orders.

      A lot of the Carling/Smooth grumbles are about a barman spending 5 minutes making a 99p coffee, or folk having to return to their table to clarify food orders. Separate tills for drinks/coffees/food would solve that.


  10. I have a bit of an issue with the growing trend of businesses which only accept card payments, something I find very customer unfriendly. I almost always pay cash in bars; when alcohol is involved I prefer to have money for the day set aside and not have nasty surprises when I check my account the next day. I still have (vague) memories of being in a bar in Helsinki and being very tempted with the 4 different vintages of Port Ellen on offer, starting off about 30 euros a shot. Sanity/mild sobriety won out, but if that had been card only……

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree. On a night out in say, Exeter or Mansfield, I’ll leave the hotel room with £20 in coins, which should be enough for six halves, two double espressos and a Chinese takeaway. In Mansfield, anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a face-to-face business in the UK that doesn’t accept cash.


  11. The card fees are usually a fixed transaction fee plus a %age of the sale, which varies depending on the type of card. We have a £5 minimum spend, but the number of young people who don’t carry cash is so high these days it’s more than paid for itself. And I’ve even found myself paying for my round with contactless rather than digging through my wallet! Most banks give businesses a certain period of free banking, so although our cash handling is currently free, it won’t be for much longer… Also don’t mind the £20 note for a half, at least there’s less change to count at the end of the night!

    If the staff and locals are good at it, nothing beats a proper bar scrum. At most Spoons the queue is definitely the best solution though.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Another observation:
    If they are that sensitive about the contactless charge, they could easily have a duel pricing scheme in place until a minimum spend level (£5/£10?) is reached, without you knowing prior to your purchase the contactless charge, they could’ve had the cash price at say £2.48 & contactless remaining at £2.58, you’d think that you were saving two bob when in actual fact they’d be a shilling to the good, and you’d be none the wiser, did that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes perfect sense. On reflection, a number of shops have £5/10 limits for card transactions; I’ve just become used to using Contactless for small transactions (which is what contactless is all about). No-one has ever said before, “Oi, that’s costing us our margin before”


      1. There was a period in the early 80s when retailers tried doing this (I remember it applying to petrol) but it didn’t last long. A minimum card value is the best option.


      2. I don’t use anything other than cash unless it is unavoidable.
        That’s exactly what they do at some concert venues, albeit dressed up as a ‘booking fee’ no fee to personal callers but a percentage added for online/over the phone purchases, ironically you’d think it would be more expensive to provide a face at a window rather than everything automated/outsourced.


  13. I hate queuing and I detest queues in licensed premises, almost reducing customers to the level of football fans at the turnstiles.

    In relation to contactless, surely it’s the way forward? I guess the naysayers are those who ridiculed pocket calculators when they first came out, saying – Rubbish, what are they going to do when they haven’t got a calculator with them? In reality, the naysayers will be those who now refuse to have a smart phone in their pocket/handbag! Probably the same ones who pass a heaped pile of exactly correct slummy to the bar staff/ shopkeeper and expect them to count out the tower of change whilst everyone waits behind them!


    1. The last point is spot on. The point of giving correct change is to reduce transaction time, fine when it’s £3, time consuming when it’s £1.79 of grubby change in Spoons, whose staff clearly prefer Contactless.

      And Contactless much quicker than chip and pin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I now see an online debate starting about some pubs now charging a premium for using Contactless (50p a pint for the Spoons in Hinckley, 70p for the Furnace in Derby). It would be an insane PR blunder if Spoons were to do it everywhere.


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