Yes, You Do Have To Pay For A Bag!


Anybody who works in retail has been down this road. The Plastic Bag Levy was introduced in Ireland back in March 2002. It’s March 2018 and the general public still seem to be shocked by it.

“Oh, I have to pay for a bag?! That’s a disgrace!” is the usual line. “Do you not do paper bags?” usually follows. “Can I not have a bag? It’s raining out” is my personal favourite. Why you would want a paper bag in the rain is beyond me but these people aren’t all there.

16 years have passed since its introduction. The idea of paying for plastic bags predates Facebook, the iPhone, Twitter and countless other things. There have been four World Cups, four Olympic Games, any number of wars and natural disasters, a global financial crisis, a very public price increase on plastic bags from 15c to 22c and the invention of Honey Ketchup but none of this matters. These people cannot get the bag levy through their thick skulls.

I remember standing in a queue in a corner shop caused by some wagon. She was refusing to pay for a plastic bag for her loaf of bread and demanded to speak to a manager over the issue. The manager stood firm so the lady wanted her money back…for a loaf of bread. I say “remember” but it was only a week ago. March 2018.

You may read the above paragraph and picture a cranky elderly lady or some well-to-do clown with a needlessly expensive coat and designer glasses flanked by her children Fiachra and Sneachta who are barred from even looking at the sweets because their mother has the humanity and demeanor of a chainsaw. However, it was a younger lady, most likely 20 or 21 years old. She would have been a school kid when the bag levy came in. How has SHE not gotten this? It’s all she has known. There is no way in hell that person remembers a time when plastic bags were free. I doubt she remembers a time before the Euro, which brings me to my final point.

The Euro was introduced on Jan 1st 2002 in Ireland, three months before the plastic bag levy. If you work in retail try my top tip the next time somebody complains about paying for a bag.

The Defence

“Can I have a bag?” (note the lack of the word ‘please’)

“Certainly, it’s 22c if that’s okay?”

“Pffft, I’m not paying for a bag bla bla bla”

“Well how will you paying for your items?”

“By card…”

“No, I mean what currency will you be paying with? Euro or Irish Punts?”


“…the Punt. The Irish Pound. Is that how you will be paying today?”

“No! Euro, obviously!”

“Oh okay, so you’re used to the Euro which came BEFORE the plastic bag levy?”

That usually shuts them up, the dicks.


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