A Pembrokeshire hotel has come under fire after an elderly couple were told that they would be unable to pay for their coffees with cash.
The Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront operates a ‘card only’ policy with the result that all cash payments are rejected in favour of card and contactless transactions.
But this, claim local charities, is discriminating against the elderly, people with learning difficulties and other vulnerable people who choose not to use credit cards and who do not have access to the internet.
“Everybody should have the opportunity to pay with cash and I find it appalling that they aren’t being given the option,” said Kellie Lowther who works for the Pembrokeshire branch of Wheelchair Accessible Transport.
Kellie had taken husband and wife John and Jackie Lewis to Ty Hotel last Wednesday afternoon after their plans for a picnic on the waterside fell foul as a result of inclement weather.
Jackie is attempting to regain her confidence following a massive stroke which left her totally paralysed down her left side, while John is extremely frail and can only walk a few steps at a time with his walking stick.
“They’ve only just started going out again after three horrific years,” explained Kellie.
“Obviously I’ve been taking them to hospital and doctor appointments on a regular basis but a few weeks ago we decided to start making social visits again, as they were both desperate to see the sea.”
Their first outing was to Hobbs Point and then two weeks ago, Kellie drove them to Angle in one of Wheelchair Accessible Transport’s specially adapted vans.
“We took flasks of tea and coffee, milk, sugar and a packet of biscuits and it meant so much to them to be out in the fresh air once again.”
This week, John and Jackie decided to visit the waterfront in Milford Haven and once again Kellie prepared the flasks and biscuits as refreshments.
“But as soon as we arrived, the wind blew up and it began pouring with rain,” explained Kellie.
” John mentioned that it would be lovely to visit the amazing new Ty Hotel for the first time and so we went inside and ordered three coffees. John gave me a £10 note to pay but when I went up to the counter, the staff said it was card only.
“There was nothing inside the hotel to inform us of this, and when I mentioned this to the manager, he said that it’s clearly stated on the hotel website. But not everybody has access to a computer nor the internet.
“He also told me that all their clientele use credit cards which I felt was totally discriminating against John and Jackie.
“John was mortified by the whole experience and Jackie was left feeling appalled at how they’d been treated; naturally she feels very embarrassed following her stroke and is trying to do as much as she can to regain her confidence.”
Kellie went on to say that the response that Mr and Mrs Lewis have had since last Wednesday’s incident has been incredible.
“Hundreds of people and care companies throughout Pembrokeshire have contacted me as they, too, feel very strongly about the fact that people are being discriminated against just because they don’t use bank cards. Surely hotels and restaurants should show some degree of care and understanding to their customers? Where is the human decency?”
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront has confirmed that ‘card only’ transactions have been company policy since the hotel first opened just over a year ago.
“The hotel has operated a card and contactless payment only policy since opening more than a year ago, and this has been company policy at The Celtic Collection since 2020.
“The payment method was introduced to enhance hygiene procedures and security, as well as to speed up payment transactions.
“Cashless payment is common practice for a large number of businesses of all sizes across the UK and as we keep no cash on the premises, we are unable to make any exceptions to this policy.
“ It is regrettable that this had a negative impact on the guests’ experience on the occasion as we felt the manager concerned dealt with the issue sympathetically.
“Ty Hotel Milford Waterfront also refutes any suggestion that the guests were made to feel unwelcome. We have an accessible property and equality, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our operational practices.
“ In responding to the feedback, we will review whether we can signpost the card and contactless payment policy more clearly to guests.”