It’s rough when you have a rival right next door to you. I’m not going to name either store in this saga - I really don’t want to make matters worse. One contacted me to say: “The grocery/off-licence store next door has been given a PayPoint terminal, even though we have one already, and have had for some time.
“This now has a direct impact on our trade, and it is annoying that PP are trying to play us off each other.”
He asked if I had ever come across this before and the answer was yes, situations where it was too close for comfort - and not just with PayPoint but also Camelot.
I asked PayPoint for an official response and got a very full one. PayPoint says that the reason it accepted the application from the second store was down to pressure from local residents and clients over the opening hours at the first store.
The hours are quite different you see. Store number one closes at 6 or 7.30pm and shuts on Sundays at 1pm. Store two is open until 11pm.
PayPoint spokesman Peter Brooker says: “We received a number of complaints from local residents that they were unable to top up their gas and electricity meters in the evenings, which some escalated to the energy companies, who also asked us to consider installing a terminal at another shop with longer hours. This is one of the very few reasons that would justify another terminal so close.”
He adds: “However, simply offering longer hours is not a guarantee the terminal will remain. As you know, we expect retailers to process a minimum volume of transactions to justify the terminal being in the shop and have made it clear to (the second store) that we expect it to meet the minimum after a suitable bedding down period.”
PP had a look at store number one’s recent transaction figures and, although lower than last year largely due to the warmer weather this year, are in line with the general trend over the same period last year.
Says Peter Brooker: “Over the past six weeks, the difference is less than two transactions/customer visits a day.”
He says that this suggests that the two stores have their own customer base and those customers who wanted to top up their phones and meters later in the evening are now doing so at the second store after the other has closed.
“It’s interesting to note that ‘other’ transactions (ie, not mobile top-up or meter pre-payment) at store number one are up nearly a fifth on the same time last year and, because these transactions generally carry a higher commission, the commission earned over the past six weeks was the same as the same six weeks in 2013 for fewer transactions.”
Not all bad news then. And this store also has the advantage of a thriving Collect+ business.