QUIDOCALYPSE: Blighty braces for £100 MILLION cost of new £1 coin
Thrupenny bits cost more than you think, me lad
As we predicted yesterday, it hasn't taken coin-guzzling machine operators long to kick off moaning about the cost of converting kit to accept Blighty's new 12-sided quid*, slated to hits the streets in 2017.
We suggested the retrofit bill for the old thrupenny-inspired coinage might be as high as £13bn, but according to the Royal Mint's head of circulation, Andrew Mills, the figure is closer to a modest £15m to £20m.
The Telegraph quotes Mills as claiming most of the "fairly simple" adaptations would come in at between a tenner and 12 quid a pop.
That may be true for the UK's vast flocks of shopping trolleys, but the British Parking Association reckons someone will have to foot the £500 per machine bill to allow 100,000 pay-and-display machines to swallow the dodecagonal nuggets.
That's £50m, and when the cost of the Automatic Vending Association's (AVA) additional estimate of 450,000 vending machines and 60,000 payphones requiring treatment is thrown into the mix, the grand total could rise to £100m.
An AVA spokesman said: "It is imperative that the vending industry works with all the other interested parties to ensure that the security and implementation can be undertaken at the lowest possible cost to industry."
Cynical Brits might suspect that "lowest possible cost to industry" is a euphemism for "at consumers' expense".
Regarding parking machines, British Parking Association spokesman Jo Audley told the Daily Mail: "We know local authorities are suffering cutbacks. If they have to spend extra money upgrading parking machines, those costs are going to be passed on to motorists in higher charges."
On the other hand, Audley said the cost would be offset in part by the counterfeit-busting 12-sider eliminating the estimated £40m in fake quids pumped annually into parking machines.
Dire warnings of quidocalypse aside, the design of the new currency - which pays tribute to the "iconic threepenny bit", as Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, described it - appears to have been well received.
The Daily Mail notes that back in the late 1930s, a thrupenny bit was worth half a pint of beer or a third of the cost of a cinema ticket. This confirms that fond reader memories of going out with a single coin, sticking a couple of bets on the gee-gees, quaffing three pints of mild with a bag of pork scratchings, catching George Formby at the Odeon, enjoying a slap-up fish and chip supper and still having change for the tram ride home are sadly just that. ®
*In plan view, the coin has 12 sides. If you take it as a 3D shape, it has 15 faces (12 bevels, obverse, reverse, outer edge). Yet some clever commentards reckon the new £1 coin has up to 50 (!) faces. Join the debate on our Facebook page - they can't all be right...