Two issues back I reported on the money-off tactics of the Daily Record in Scotland. This prompted feedback ranging from a two-line email of support from 'Gazzy' in Rothesay, to several who pointed out that the handling fee for the coupons is not 2p but 1p so it's actually twice as bad. I also received a very thoughtful piece from Desmond Barr who runs Sinclair Barr News-agents in Paisley.

He points his finger at The Sun for starting the war and says that the Daily Record is having to fight with one hand tied behind its back because it has fewer resources.

The bigger issue, he says, is price capping and he has written to John Fingleton, director general of the Office of Fair Trading, asking him for his comments on the following scenario.

Since January 15, 2001, the Scottish Sun (part of News International) has run various promotional initiatives that have seen the cover prices fluctuate between 10p and 30p, with retailers on a protected margin receiving 6.956p per copy. 

Desmond maintains that NI's marketing strategy has been replicated by others, and while he enjoys short-term increased sales overall it damages the marketplace.

"Five years without an increase in profit margin fails to recognise the economic needs of those who retail news," he says in his letter to the OFT.

"NI's policy has been to deliberately stagnate and depress cover prices of all Scottish titles and, in particular, that of its direct competitor. Its obsession with catching the Daily Record through price-cutting has resulted in millions of pounds of investment being lost to the trade, and more significantly a loss of jobs, businesses and profit margin."

He asks John Fingleton: "Is consideration ever given by the OFT to the economic and moral impact that promotional activity through reduction of cover price has?"

I'll be very interested, as I'm sure will you, to hear the OFT's response.