There appeared to be some confusion over two Coca-Cola branded coolers Manjit Gill has in his store (Haydon Store, Wimbledon). He told me that he has had the oldest one for more than 10 years. Then he got a second one to replace a Pepsi fridge. Somewhere in this scenario he believed he paid rental on one for a few years, but no longer. His previous rep had been insisting that he followed planograms for both coolers, even though Manjit says the planograms are “ridiculous” for his business given the huge competition around.

Then he got a letter from CCE’s solicitors, dated March 27, saying that one of the fridges would be removed. (Manjit believes that, because he had had some heated exchanges with the rep, he got ‘reported’.) He insists that Coca-Cola would never have given him two fridges on free loan.

I got in touch with CCE and its public relations outfit sent me the following:

“Readers of C-Store magazine will be aware that we have a strong track record of supporting the convenience channel over many years through our equipment installations, point of sale and promotional activities, and the category advice provided by our field sales team (one of the largest in market helping the independent trade).

“Providing retailers with coolers is a major investment decision for us. In return for supplying such equipment, we always ask that CCE’s brands take a specified amount of the available space in the coolers.

“Clearly, we would have preferred to keep our equipment in Haydon Store. But the Gills were not meeting these contractual requirements. We have had a number of discussions with them over many months and asked that they increase the space given to our products in the two CCE coolers. Having failed to identify ways in which we could work together to meet these requirements, we reluctantly took the decision to remove the coolers from their store. That process is now under way.

“We hope that we can find other ways in which we can continue supporting the Gills in the future.”

Pretty clear, yes? Not really because Manjit has had another communication from CCE, dated April 15, headed Transfer of Title. The letter spells out that CCE accepts no responsibility for ongoing maintenance of the cooler - it is ‘gifted’ to him.

I reckon someone did eventually look through the records and saw that Manjit did lease the equipment for a few years. That transfer of title should have happened a few years ago when he had finished paying for it. And - for a finish that is rich in irony - the ruddy thing broke down the next day, but Manjit doesn’t mind too much. He’s got his regular fridge guy on the case.