New coins may be rejected at meters
New 5p and 10p coins could confuse customers when they attempt to use them in machines such as payphones and parking meters, those in the industry have warned.
The new coins are the same size and weight as the existing ones but are thicker, and while many machines have been upgraded to accept both types of coin, others can currently only accept the older-style coins and may stop taking smaller change altogether.
The new coins are being produced from this month and will be gradually phased into circulation, making their first expected appearance this spring.
Their introduction was delayed for a year following a campaign to allow enough time to make the adjustments, with the refreshment vending industry alone spending £25 million on alterations.
The new coins are made of nickel-plated steel and are cheaper than the existing copper and nickel coins, but concerns have been raised that customers might wrongly assume an unaltered machine is broken if they do not realise they are using a new coin.
Jeff Wilkes, managing director of Solitaire Payphones, which provides privately-owned phones in locations such as hotels and pubs, raised concerns that the public will have difficulty spotting the new coins among their change.
He said: "Our main concern is that the public don't know about it. They might put their coin in whatever kind of machine and it doesn't work. They're going to think it's the fault of the machine.
"There has not been much of an awareness campaign saying to the public this is happening."
The Royal Mint said that although production has started on the new coins, they will not begin to appear until later this spring, in line with demand.
A Royal Mint spokesman said: "The change certainly would not affect customers, it it hoped that both coins will work in the new machines.@