Potato farmer's dismay at abuse of honesty box policy
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
A potato farmer has spoken of his dismay after seeing people repeatedly abuse his honesty box policy by paying for goods with illegal tender, buttons and washers.
Since Peter Ketteringham, whose business is known as the Potato Men, introduced the box, he has seen people contribute US Dollars, redundant British currency and even French Francs in exchange for sacks of spuds and egg trays.
The honesty box, which relies on customers giving exact money, was put in earlier this year as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before the virus emerged, Mr Ketteringham's 84-year-old father would run the independent farm shop as a way to occupy himself and socialise.
But when the pandemic started, he could not carry on this duty, so the honesty box was brought in to allow the trade to continue.
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Rather than being in the "pay what you can" mould though, the potatoes and eggs have fixed prices, which customers are trusted to meet.
Mr Kettingham though has revealed the extent to which some people abuse the policy, saying the farm may be forced to scrap it.
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He said: "We have had pretty decent CCTV installed looking at the box and it is so frustrating to look at - you can clearly see people either putting their empty hands up to the box and pretending to pay or even what they've got in their hands.
"People know exactly what the prices are and exactly what they are doing - the worst thing is having to watch somebody deceive you."
Mr Ketteringham, who sells the potatoes and eggs from Low Farm in Drayton, said he did not want to stop trading from there because it provides a service to the community - but that he may have no other choice.
He said: "We have informed the police who are investigating, but the people who do it are spoiling it for the trustworthy people that use it properly and are those we are trying to support.
"We really want to keep doing it but the thefts are doing my head in and I do not know how much more I can take."