Jackie Symons from Prees Village Stores, Shropshire, adds her tuppence-worth with the following: "Isn't it time for a concerted campaign against card charges that destroy margins? Time and again, I have customers coming in just to buy a packet of cigarettes and paying with a debit/credit card. Lots of cigarettes are pricemarked and customers like to know they aren't being ripped off, but the awful margin on most fags means that the minute they take out that card, all your profit has disappeared in bank charges. In fact, with some card charges, you are actually making a loss.

"When paying by card was a minority activity, you just swallowed hard and took the hit to maintain customer service. As we move closer to a cashless society, it can only get worse.

"The big companies can negotiate their card charges down to a few pence. Small traders can't do that, so I am effectively subsidising Tesco.

"The one guarantee is that when setting pricemarks, the manufacturer is making sure it protects its margins and, presumably, the wholesalers', at the expense of the retailer.

"Funny how seldom you see pricemarks in supermarkets."

As an afterthought on the subject of the tobacco display ban she adds that cigarettes could be put into opaque packaging with just a small identifier, rather than retailers having to hide stock out of sight.

This, she says, would have the benefit of allowing the cost to fall where it should on the manufacturer rather than the retailer and be much easier to implement as manufacturers could do it virtually overnight.

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