€10,000 for M&S shopper told she had fake €50 note
A WOMAN shopper felt Marks & Spencer “mopped the floor with her” while she was challenged about a €50 note that turned out to be legal tender, a court heard.
Dana Voicu (45) was unlawfully detained for up to 40 minutes at M&S Liffey Valley in Lucan, while being subjected to humiliation, Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said.
The court heard a store manager had told Ms Voicu: “This note is fake and I cannot give it back to you. I should take all your money. If this one is fake they are all fake, and I should call the gardai.”
But the judge warned the country’s shopkeepers that failure to adopt cheap and fool-proof methods of checking for fake banknotes could cost them dearly.
He awarded Ms Voicu €10,000 damages for defamation against the Marks & Spencer outlet, saying the store could easily have avoided wrongly implying that the customer was trying to pass a fake €50 note as legal tender.
“In this day and age counter checks for fake currency with security pens are now part and parcel of the process of commerce, even though it may slightly startle customers that their currency is being checked,” Judge Groarke told the Circuit Civil Court.
He said Ms Voicu, from Lucan, Co Dublin, “told this court she felt Marks & Spencer was mopping the floor with her while being challenged about the bank note which turned out to be valid legal tender.
“I am satisfied she is an extremely honest and straightforward individual who has not made a big deal about the matter.”
Barrister Benedict O’Floinn, counsel for Ms Voicu, said Marks & Spencer was not disputing that the words had been spoken by the store manager – but had demanded proof that she had been injured in her character, credit and reputation.
Ms Voicu said she had presented the €50 note to pay for an item costing €17. The sales girl had put it by the till and called a manager who had told her it was a fake. Forty minutes later a security man had told her it was genuine.