Sunday dawned bright and developed sunny so myself, Wee Keefy and Miss N embarked on a yomp in the country, ending at a public house. Tonight, Monday evening dawned dark and wet so myself and Miss N embarked on a yomp to the pub. Two very different pubs were encountered. Two very different outcomes prevailed.
Sunday saw us park up near Surprise View on the way to Hathersage to hike up through the woods and up to the top of the rocks overlooking Hathersage, Ringinglow, Burbage and Fox House. A scrabble and a cross country clamber later, with daunting grey skies over Padley Gorge, we headed out on to the road and then back through the woods to the car. We then decided to drive to the Millstone in Hathersage.
This was my first visit and I was pleased to see local real ales on the bar. I figured, being a food venue, I could pay on my card. I could perhaps have scraped together the pennies to buy Wee Keefy a pint and myself and Miss N a half each but that wasn't ideal, and besides, WK was driving, so would only be supping one. As it was I was informed on asking they did accept cards and our round included a pint of Deception for me, a pint of Batemans Autumn Red (or Haze!) for Miss n and a pint of the Yorkshire brewed Millstone bitter for WK. It came to £9.50, which is commensurate with the average £.3.15 a pint cost. It was rather nice, and we sat outside to sup the beer.
Guzzler I then went back for two more pints intending to pay with cash. Having got there, I decided it was probably better to pay by card. This time the bar staff stated that purchases under $10.00 attracted a surcharge of 50p. So I looked bewildered, as any rational person would, and paid with almost all of my change. So why the £10.00 minimum?
Having worked in an off license I know the sort of prices you could expect to pay the card machine companies. About 22p for credit cards and about 10-15 for debit, albeit in 2008. Any retailer already familiar with the benefit of allowing card payments would factor this into their prices but set a limit around £5.00. This isn't taking the piss, and is a legitimate expectation. I asked whether at £9.50, having not had the surcharge communicated, my first bill would have been subject to it and was informed that bill totals near £10.00 would have the fee waived. When I asked how I would know this, I was told there was a sign round what looked like the other side of the bar. There is no way, having just had an eye operation, I would have been able to see this. So why create this annoyance and potential deceit by making the rule ambiguous?
Tonight meanwhile, I arrived at Shakespeares and had a pint of Pixie Spring Prince of Bombay IPA at 5.5% which was only £3.00 a pint, plus a pint of the Salamander Spectre Porter for Miss N, who also tried the latest Dr Morton's special.. I also had a couple of pints of the Pixie Spring plus myself and Miss N shared a very inexpensive bottle of Nogne O Imperial Brown at £5.0 a bottle, plus halves of the Lowenbrau (or!) Paulaner Oktoberfest.. Throughout I paid by card, except where I got money back, allowing me to pay with real cash thereafter. The limit was £5.00 which it is almost everywhere on Earth, and I and the pub derived benefit form the cash withdrawn.
There are many pubs I go to which don't allow you to pay by card and that's fine. As a connoisseur of old and unsoilt pubs the existence of such venues is a great relief to me. However, if a pub does allow such payments that is also fine, not least because it furnishes the desirous spontaneity of a surprise pint after work, and encourages punters to buy more ale. The details of that arrangement have to be conveyed, and make sense, however.
I;m not suggesting that all pubs should allow card payments, but if your establishment does,. I'd suggest you make the rules clear, advise of them, and make them logical. Otherwise, you leave yourself open to looking a bit pernickety and like you haven't thought the process through properly....