23 August 2005

Tuppence Short of a Shilling

I read in the Metro this morning that shoppers have had enough of watching the pennies and want a new 99p coin. (It’s all over the news.)

You can download the Virgin Money Press Release here: New 99p Coin Will Save Brits Millions (Microsoft Word Format – 139KB)

Introducing a 99p coin is clearly an idea that’s tuppence short of a shilling. One cent short of a euro. One pence short of a pound. Barmy. Crazy. Mad. Perhaps even stupid. For a start, what if you only had a 99p coin in your pocket and you wanted to buy a lottery ticket? You’d need a penny. And – perhaps a more obvious question – where would all these coins come from?

Assuming you wouldn’t want to go to the bank to get a load of 99p coins, you’d need to get them in your change. And in order to receive just one 99p coin in your change, you’d need to spend exactly £1.01 (for example) – for which you could just use a £1 coin and a 1p coin (or, if I’m humouring "financial boffins" at Virgin Money, a 99p coin and 2p coin). So, would the shops change all their prices from 99p to £1.01 so that you could get the 99p coin in the first place? If they did, nothing would cost 99p and the 99p coin would no longer be needed. Which means that nothing would need to cost £1.01... which means there’s a head-mangling-paradox-type-thing going on.

By complete contrast, here’s my rather simple sensible idea: Get rid of the 1p and 2p coins so that shops have to either round up (or round down) their £x.x9 prices to make them exactly divisible by 5p. Sorted. *

Any questions?

* Obviously only sorted until the shoppers say they’ve had enough of five pence pieces and demand a 95p coin... although since most shops wouldn’t want to lose out on all those four pences, they’d probably round prices up anyway.

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Why not do away with pence altogether and just have pounds? Or is that far too obvious?

But that would mean you'd have to pay a whole £1 for things like cans of Coke and chocolate bars.

You're as bad as the financial boffins at Virgin Money!

Well inflation is above the Government / Bank of Englands target, so it won't be long before we pay a pound for cans of Coke anyway!

What about the corn snacks known as Space Invaders? They've always been 10p. You can't charge £1 for them!

Could always give everything a minimum quantity, say instead of buying 1 bag of space raiders you bought 10 and to be honest you always going to eat them eventually !

Could get a little out of hand when you want a 1p sweet (well they normally cost about 5p these days due to inflation) as the shop assistant would go spare counting them !! But hey cant go wrong with 100 / 20 sweet can yah ??

Other option would be to simply do as the foreigners did before the Euro, erradicate the lower discrepency (in this case the 1/2pence) and just round everything to 5's, things still get priced per 1 but change is only given by rounding it.

Im sure someone will always be missing / benefitting from that scheme but hey would save all teh hassle, I mean who likes copper coins anyway ?! Theres always piles of them lying around my house

Rocky 3 used a 99 pence coin just before Mickey died. Also, if I remember correctly...Rocky 5 used several 99p coins during the auction of his estate.

Keep wearing the shirts Tony.