Polymer £5 Notes.
Polymer fivers have been in circulation for a few months now and they have mostly been well-received (despite recently being in the news for containing animal fats!).
One of its biggest selling points is how incredibly strong it is compared to the old paper notes… it feels like you’re attempting to tear a phone book in half if you try to rip one! Journalists went into a frenzy on its release and tested it in every way imaginable – putting it through a washing machine, dunking it in wine, dipping it in curry – you name it, they did it…
And it survived (yay!).
If you do manage to rip one, you can get it replaced (you may have to pretend it was an accident) for free, by posting it with an accompanying form to the Bank of England. It’s a service carried out by a specialist team with a very impressive (if Potter-esque) name: the Department of Mutilated Notes. For some reason, when we read about this, images of people with surgical masks and white lab coats running around a dark room in the basement of the Bank of England sprung to mind… weird.
Anyway… the process is actually quite simple and is the same for both paper and polymer notes. As said, you send whatever remains of the note you have off to the Department of Mutilated Notes with a form. They judge whether your claim is genuine, and usually transfer the face value of the note directly into your bank account. There’s a slightly different process (that may or may not involve hazmat suits) for those of you who have managed to get a bio-hazard or noxious substance all over the note(s)… but hopefully there aren’t too many cases like that!
The Bank of England says it receives around 23,000 individual applications a year, but we think this is going to significantly drop when polymer dominates the material of our cash. This is good for the environment and (due to the costs involved) probably means the BoE becoming financially better off – excellent stuff.
If you need more help or advice about damaged notes, you can visit the Bank of England website here or call the Department of *ahem* Mutilated Notes on 0113 241 0075.