Tristan da Cunha? (update: Golden Britannia Penny)

tdc.gifYesterday, the Royal Mail delivered one of those “Only available to the first 150,000 respondents” pamphlets, “urgent attention required”, “time-sensitive documentation inside”. Normally, straight in the bin. Yesterday, I needed something to read for five minutes and that was it.

It seems that in exchange for £5 (GBP), The London Mint Office will send me the new Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday £5 coin.

Except, and you do have to read the “small print” which states “the new Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday £5 coin is legal tender in Tristan da Cunha. It is redeemable at any time on the Island. Alternatively, it can be redeemed if accompanied by proof of purchase, through The London Mint Office”.

So, in exchange for £5 GBP which is legal tender here in the UK, you can have a shiny coin that is not legal tender in the UK…nice.

Just where is Tristan da Cunha? Well, it’s a remote island in the south Atlantic ocean. From what I can gather, it is only accessible by ship. You are very unlikely to go there on a holiday. Further, the economy of Tristan da Cunha is largely fishing oriented, you are unlikely to find a store selling generic MP3 players or the like! To quote the local policeman (singular): “300 people live here, earning their living from farming, fishing, handicrafts and the sale of colourful postage stamps”. Not really the place you might find Pete Tong on a Friday night.

I have no reason to believe that this is a fraudulent scam, after all, the Royal Mail delivered it and you wouldn’t expect them to be party to anything dodgy. However, do be aware that you’re not exchanging £5 GBP for anything that is legal tender in the UK…all you can do with it is admire it or hopefully receive a refund (postage at your expense!)

A similar story is reported here.

[13/09/2006 update]
After reading some of the incoming comments, it does seem that this is a heavy marketing scam, probably to be avoided. If you feel really strongly about it, perhaps taking it up with the Royal Mail might be the answer. I should add that I didn’t actually part with my cash for this coin, I was merely reading the literature whilst having a seat in my bathroom, then the literature went straight in the bin.

Tony Hetherington invites readers to repeat their tales of woe over here.

[07/10/2008 update]
Thanks to an eagle-eyed comment from a reader (below), the new scam appears to be the “Golden Britannia Penny”. Watch out for that one! More information can be found here:

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=1143741

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