Kate Davies, who runs a small rural business, Hodnet Stores in north Shropshire, wondered whether she could levy a surcharge on her PayPoint and Payzone transactions (PayPoint conceded she can have both terminals because it cannot offer Npower in her area).

When she asked PayPoint point blank it was pointed out to her that in the manual under Customer Services Standards, it says, under point four, “staff must not require customers to buy goods from the store as a condition of accepting a PayPoint transaction or seek to charge the customer for the transaction or any aspect of PayPoint service”.

In other words you cannot make customers buy something else while they are there (so much for the footfall argument) and you cannot charge for the cash transaction. Notice I said cash transaction?

Although it isn’t in the manual, PayPoint has told her that, if she puts a sign up to the effect, she can charge up to £1.50 for debit or credit card transactions. Kate only charges 50p for cards. She reckons she makes a better profit on these because she has struck quite a good deal on cards (and has to pay more to bank cash).

When I spoke to her last she had just experienced her worst Monday. Whereas turnover is between £1,500 and £2,000 a day, that Monday more than £350 of it was on PayPoint and Payzone transactions.

“So I made diddly-squat,” she says.

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