George Sandhu, who runs a Costcutter just outside of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, says that PayPoint keeps telling him to get rid of his Payzone terminal, even though he puts only Anglia Water payments through it - a service not offered by PayPoint. He has had his Payzone terminal for seven years and his PayPoint for two.
Three days later Bernard Preston (B&S Preston, Bury, Manchester) rang with a very similar complaint. He processes North West Water payments through his Payzone terminal, which he has had "from day one", but has been told to get rid of it.
In both cases they were asked for their Payzone statements to prove what they were claiming. They took a dim view of this but, in any case, according to PayPoint's head of corporate affairs Peter Brooker, it wouldn't make much difference.
"Our policy would still be the same. One problem with taking that route is that it would be too tempting for a retailer to be attracted by short-term, promotional offers from the operator of the competitive terminal to put more transactions through their terminal, which they might not normally get. That would put them in breach of their contract with us, a position we don't want them to find themselves in.
"Retailers seldom want to provide statements (I do not draw any conclusion from that) but when they do, we're able to show them how much they stand to lose if they use the competitive terminal for little benefit as there are so few services not provided by PayPoint that are provided elsewhere. Which takes us back to the breadth of the service offering and overall package we are able to offer."
He had covered the package on other emails to me and they are indeed extensive. They include the majority of water companies - I counted 16 of them. (I do wonder how long Anglia and North West will be able to hold out if the Payzone terminals all get removed?)
Peter also says: "Our contract has always included the clause about competitive terminals, even back in 1997. However, as we've found that more and more applicants for PayPoint terminals already have a competitive terminal in the store, we've felt the need to pull out that part of the contract and get the retailer to sign that they have seen and accept it, so there can be no misunderstanding. The decision to accept our terms is entirely up to the retailer."
Neither of these two retailers have any close-up competition so I don't know where PayPoint may rehouse these two terminals without inconveniencing a lot of customers. As I have said many times before on a variety of subjects: most things are negotiable. If PP needs you more than you need them, well then...
And here's one more question for PayPoint. With transaction commissions capped at 13p and retailers having to pay for debit/credit card payments plus bank charges, why can't they pay the very considerable sums they collect on your behalf straight into a PayPoint account?