In the week that the government is ignoring a million-plus signatures in opposition to its congestion-charging proposals posted to its website, a similar idea is being floated by Elizabeth Brown regarding Alphyra.
She contacted me with a riposte to Bryan Phillipson's idea of calling for a 'strike' of Alphyra agents over their abysmal 2.9% commission on telephone top-ups. Bryan, who runs Christie Park Stores at Morecambe in Lancashire, wanted everyone to unplug their terminals for two days. You can ring him on 01524 414998 if you want to join his campaign.
Elizabeth thought she could do better than this. She - or more accurately - her 14-year-old son, has devised a website to collect signatures in protest. She sent me details via her very first email while declaring that she is not "a cool techno chick". Actually, she is - it's one of the most precise emails I've ever had (there's a lot of dross on the superhighway as she is about to find out as she 'progresses').
Her son has devised a super site. Have a look at http://we-dont-like-alphyra-very-much.co.uk/default.aspx.
The site spells out that Elizabeth's busy c-store, situated in a Birmingham suburb, puts £10,000
a week through its Alphyra terminal. After banking charges, she notes,
the family business makes £60 a week - 0.6%.
"Now consider how much time is occupied in physically processing £10,000-worth of Alphyra sales. Plainly a good deal more than £60 is required in wages in order to offer this service. It is costing us money to collect Alphyra's revenue. Why do we do it? Why do you do it?"
She reasons that Bryan's two-day strike call would have no long-term benefit. "To be effective, any strike needs to be universally supported and must continue until Alphyra agrees to pay us a commission that makes it viable to operate the Payzone service."
The site offers a click on petition tab where you can enter your support.
Alphyra says that the particular cut in commission on telephone top-ups wasn't its idea. It was forced by the mobile operators themselves rather than by Payzone. The company adds that it continues to introduce higher margin lines.
The biggest problem here is that
if your main Payzone business is in telephone top-ups and utilities payments and not in prepaid gaming vouchers or money transfer, then those better margins will always remain elusive.