Confusion over Sam Smith's card payment strategy

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

No to card payments: cash is still king at Samuel Smith’s pubs
No to card payments: cash is still king at Samuel Smith’s pubs

Related tags: Samuel smith, Pub, Payment

Claims that Sam Smith's payment strategy across its estate has changed, with card payments apparently being pulled from its sites, are unfounded and outdated, a source has said.

Reports in the national press have claimed that pubs in the estate have started to ban card payments.

However, speaking to The Morning Advertiser​, Mick Hilton, who is licensee of Brigadier Gerard in Monkgate, said he was unsure where the reports had erupted from considering they had always used a cash only system.

Hilton said: “You keep saying Samuel Smith has banned cards, but we never had cards, so they’re not banned.”

Causing confusion

A sign in the pub doorway reads “Notice. We operate cash only. No credit or debit cards”.

He had also told the York Press​ he supported the brewery’s rule, asking why people should have to pay more for their beer so the card companies could benefit.

However, the manager of the John Snow pub in central London told the Sun Online​ that it uses credit and debit cards every day and heard nothing of the ban.

Workers at Samuel Smith central London pubs the Angel and the Fitzroy also told the national newspaper they were unaware of it too.

According to figures from UK Finance in 2018, there had been a 14% surge in the number of debit card payments, which meant they outnumbered the number of cash transactions in the UK for the first time ever.

The number of debit card transactions rose to 13.2bn – largely driven by the proliferation of contactless payment technology, which accounted for 5.6bn of payments made in 2017.

An estimated 3.4m people in the UK hardly used cash at all in 2017.

The news that Sam Smith pubs are barring card payments across its pubs is not the first time the brewer has hit the headlines.

September 2001 – Prosecuted over safety

On 5 September 2001, the Yorkshire brewer Samuel Smith was prosecuted by Westminster Council for failing to effectively manage asbestos at the Duke of Argyll in Soho, London.

The company was found guilty under the health and safety at work regulations at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court, London in September 2001.

January 2005 – Bans live entertainment 

Sam Smith kicked out a folk club that had been performing in one of its pubs for almost 30 years. The move followed the brewer’s decision to axe background music after it was revealed that PPL (Phono-graphic Performance Limited) licences fees were set to rise by up to 500% in 2006.

As part of a strict “no entertainment” policy, Samuel Smith's told the Beverley Folk Club that it could no longer perform at the White Horse pub in Beverley, East Yorkshire.

October 2010 – Battle over white rose of Yorkshire

Smith took legal action against the Cropton Brewery, in Cropton, North Yorkshire, over its use of the county's famous emblem on bottles, labels and pump clips for Yorkshire Warrior. Cropton had brewed the beer for a couple of years and proceeds go to the Yorkshire Regiment’s benevolent fund.

Samuel Smith’s claimed the use of the “stylised white rose device” by Cropton is an infringement of its trademark and demanded the destruction of every label, bottle and pump clip bearing the offending symbol.

January 2016 – ‘Blocks’ temporary Tadcaster bridge plan

A temporary footbridge was necessary after the ancient Tadcaster Bridge over the River Wharfe collapsed in the floods, leaving the town divided.

Samuel Smith was blasted by Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams and faced criticism from the local community after it refused to allow a temporary footbridge to be built on its land following the Boxing Day floods.

July 2017 – Bans bikers from pubs

Motorcyclists claimed they had been banned from a Samuel Smith pub in South Yorkshire.

Biker Mark Smith told the BBC ​​a member of staff at the Royal Oak, at Ulley, near Rotherham, told him he wouldn’t get served because bikers were barred, before Smith had stepped foot inside the pub.

He added the staff member said the decision came from the brewery and no other reason was given to bar him and the other bikers.

April 2019 – Bans mobile phones from pubs

Smith banned customers from using their mobile phones in its venues and punters should go outside to take calls “in the same way as is required with smoking”.

Manchester Evening News ​​reported a memo that had been sent to staff across the Samuel Smith pub estate from owner Humphrey Smith to managers across the company’s estate on 25 March.

The memo said: “The brewery’s policy is not to allow customers to use mobile phones, laptops or similar inside our pubs.

“If a customer receives a call then he or she should go outside to take it in the same way as is required with smoking.”

Related topics: Other operators

Related news

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to The Morning Advertiser

The definitive voice for the pub trade

Get the latest news, analysis and insights from the uk pub sector straight to your inbox!

Listen to The MA Podcast