I’d have to squeeze my already hard-pushed brain to work out where the same rules apply in any situation. We might have the longest unbroken democracy on the planet (really), but unfairness still takes place regularly.
A semi-regular correspondent who trades somewhere near middle England, whom I shall call Beth, has sent me a well-reasoned rant about PayPoint. She’s anonymous because she doesn’t want to drop her next- door retailer-neighbour in it.
Referring to my November 25, 2011 column which recounted Ashok Pandya’s legal clash with PayPoint over a conflicting 3R terminal, Beth reminds that “this isn’t the first time you’ve related a similar tale about the difficulties encountered by retailers who wish to offer more than one payment service system, but have been stymied by the terminal operators refusing to allow more than one terminal at any one site”. (Actually, I’m not aware that anyone other than PayPoint insists on exclusivity.)
She goes on: “Fair enough, I would say - the contracts are clear and there really is no excuse for accepting the terms of the agreement and then bleating when the financial and legal consequences start giving you a headache. Read the small print, ask the relevant questions and keep your side of the bargain, please!…..except….how does PayPoint et al justify their behaviour unless the same rules apply to all?” (Like I said, I think it’s only PayPoint.)
She did once apply to PayPoint for a terminal to run alongside her existing Payzone service. She says: “Our application was viewed favourably and a contract duly arrived for us to sign. However, upon reading the terms of the contract, it was clear that we would be obliged to terminate our Payzone agreement before being able to take up the PayPoint option. This was pointless to us because we wanted to offer the entire gamut of services, some of which were only available via PayPoint and some exclusively through Payzone.
“But the nub of the question at this stage was why could the shop next door operate both PayPoint and Payzone terminals when we could not? This was the situation at the time, had been for many years beforehand and remains the case to this day. I wrote to PayPoint explaining that we could not comply with their terms and querying the situation of dual services available next door. I never received a reply.”
She felt that Ashok might like to make use of these easily verifiable facts as he conducts his case against PayPoint.
Truth is, Ashok faxed me two solicitors’ letters demanding about £2K and ignoring his counter claim for loss of business, and saying legal action was about to commence.
He had recently attended a Transport for London seminar (he’s a bus pass agent) and had asked around among others, only to discover that several had received similar solicitors’ letters but all had caved in.
He’s now wondering whether to fight. Has anyone been there and done that? What was the outcome? (I have asked PayPoint whether it ever lost cases, but I don’t expect an answer.)