Bakery defends rule after sacking manager over debit card dispute

A bakery chain in the East Midlands has defended its cashless payments policy after sacking a manager who took money from customers and used her own card to pay for the goods instead.

Birds Bakery is currently operating a card-only system during the coronavirus pandemic. But petitions have been set up, urging the firm to review its rules over not accepting cash.

But the chain said it is ‘constantly reviewing’ Covid-19 procedures, including the re-introduction of cash payments.

Megan Metcalfe was dismissed from the company for gross misconduct following more than 40 years’ employment with the business., reports Nottinghamshire Live.

She said a lot of customers at the Radcliffe-on-Trent store where she worked are elderly and do not have a card.

To ensure the customers to leave empty-handed, she put the payment through on her own card and asked the customers to put the cash straight into her purse. She said she would show the customers the receipt.

The bakery business said it was ‘with regret’ that they had to dismiss Megan because of her actions.

Katherine Clarke set up a petition calling on Birds to accept cash and to reinstate Megan to her role following her dismissal.

The 34-year-old said: “It was unfathomable what happened to Megan. There’s been so much anger about it with comments being put everywhere. She was trying to help customers.

“This situation should never have happened.

“Many elderly people don’t have a card and only use cash – it’s what they know. So many businesses are accepting cash still and this should be the same.”

Katherine’s petition has already attracted more than 2,400 signatures.

Birds Bakery’s response

Following the story on Megan’s dismissal, Birds has responded to the petitions and said it has talked to staff about Covid-19 procedures.

They said the “overwhelming response” from staff was that they preferred not to touch banknotes and coins while working.

The firm also said Megan will not be reinstated, but she has since found a new role elsewhere.

Lesley Bird, chief operating officer at Birds Bakery, told Nottinghamshire Live: “We are aware of the petition and we are also aware of another petition started by elderly customers in support of Birds.

“Those people are supportive of our card-only policy at this time and recognise we are trying to keep our staff and customers safe.

“Birds and a number of big operators have a card-only policy during this pandemic. We are constantly reviewing our Covid-19 procedures, including the re-introduction of cash payments.

“Birds employs 800 people and has 60 stores across the East Midlands. We talked to our staff about our Covid-19 procedures and the overwhelming response was that they preferred not to touch banknotes and coins at this time and we took those wishes very seriously.

“Our card-only policy was not taken lightly. We take the safety of our staff and customers very seriously – and have very tight procedures in place during this continuing pandemic.

“We are sorry that so many people are upset about Megan Metcalfe’s dismissal from Birds but she contravened our health and safety policy and we took that very seriously.

“Megan will not be reinstated – we wish her well in the new role she has secured since leaving Birds.”

The company also added in a statement that customers Joyce Bramble, 89, and Emily Akers, 91, are both Birds regulars who have been continuing their visits throughout the pandemic.

Joyce said: “Birds have been marvellous during this pandemic and the staff are caring and want to keep us safe and we love them. The card-only policy is in place for the benefit of not just the staff but us too.

“Birds are only trying to keep us safe. I use my card, I don’t want to use cash because it’s dirty. I feel really safe and secure in Birds.”

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