A “fuming” couple told they could not pay in cash at a new cinema feel the older generation is being “left behind”.
Richard and Carol Riley recently visited the new five-screen Curzon at the £115 million Riverside complex in Canterbury.
They had hoped to see the new facilities and enjoy a bite to eat and drink in the cafe following a walk around the city.
But they were left “gobsmacked” after a member of staff told them the business does not accept cash, claiming the employee told them “the complex is based on students”, due to purpose-built digs nearby.
Part-time retail worker Carol, 64, said: “We sat down, picked up a menu and had our money ready. But the lad serving us simply said ‘we don’t take cash’.
“He said the place was really for students, who also get 10% off. It left us gobsmacked, to be honest.”
Mr Riley, 66, who used to work for Invicta Motors, added: “We were very disappointed at effectively being told they weren’t interested in us as customers.
“We had thought is was a nice development for all residents, but apparently not older people like us who prefer to use cash and know how much they are spending.”
The couple, from Lichfield Avenue in the city, returned to the cafe a few days later and again attempted to pay with cash, but were told by a different server that it was company policy for payments to be card-only.
“We are council tax-paying residents but were effectively turned away, which has left us feeling very deflated,” added Mr Riley.
Mrs Riley says she prefers to withdraw her money each week from the bank.
“You shouldn’t be refused a drink when you’re willing to pay,” she added.
“Cash is still legal tender and you can budget easier.
“When your money is gone, it’s gone, and you wait until the next week.
“With a card, you don’t know how much you’re spending.”
Mrs Riley now believes Canterbury has become too centred around the student population, rather than locals.
“We have been here for a long time but I feel residents are being pushed out,” she added.
“If you go for a haircut or for a coffee, there is a discount for students.”
After the couple’s initial visit to the cinema, a spokesman for Curzon says he believes there could have been a “miscommunication” between the Rileys and staff.
He said: “Firstly, our apologies to them that our position wasn’t made clear.
“We went cashless in all our venues in response to the pandemic. The decision was made to help keep staff and customers safe and it is not related to the profile of the cinema or the customers we are expecting to use the venue.
“We do take cash when there is no alternative, but we only hold a small amount at the venues, so it is not recommended that people arrive expecting to use it.”
He added that the cinema group welcomed all age groups and walks of life to its two Canterbury venues which, he says, is reflected in the broad range of films being screened.
“I hope our commitment to serving the local community is evident,” he said.
“That includes those who have lived in the area for a long time and those who have recently arrived to study,” he added.
The opening of the Riverside has faced a series of delays since construction work began on the old Serco depot site in 2019.
Alongside the commercial element of the project, the site will also host 189 new homes, 220 undercroft parking spaces, and student accommodation providing 493 bedrooms, which has already been completed.
The issue of a "cashless society" has been brought into sharp focus recently – particularly when it comes to parking.
Residents in Whitstable blasted the "ageist" payment system at a coastal car park, where visitors can only pay over the phone, or via an app.
And a similar system at De Bradelei Wharf in Dover has seen the shopping centre's takings fall 40%, according to bosses.