It is not going too well between Mayur Patel and PayPoint. He says times are tough where he trades (Fima Supermarket Food & Wine, Harlesden, London) and his top-up sales have dropped badly.

PayPoint had contacted him to tell him his transactions had fallen below the minimum level, warning him that the contract he signed commits him to put all available transactions through the PayPoint terminal. The company suspected he was putting his top-ups through a 3R terminal for better commission.

Mayur rang me to complain and said he might have the terminal removed. He doesn’t like anyone telling him how to run his business.

I worried about cancellation penalties and approached PP. Spokesman Peter Brooker said that if Mayur wanted to put his top-ups through a rival’s terminal PayPoint could remove its machine, but there would not be a termination fee. He pointed out that it would also mean that Mayur would lose the sales benefits from the bill payment and other services that bring in footfall.

Mayur complained that bill payment customers rarely bought anything else, and the odd missing pack of Wrigley’s from the counter while customers were queueing meant that he was working on a point-bonk-zero margin while collecting a lot of money for PP. And, as he also pointed out, everybody seems to be on a mobile contract these days.

So I asked PayPoint what the figures are and Brooker replied: “The top-up market has been in decline of 10-15% a year for several years, the result of cheaper, better-value contracts offered by the operators, but also more time for less on pay-as-you-go. We reported a 7.6% fall in top-up transactions in the 26 weeks to 30 September 2014.”

Mayur denies using the 3R terminal for top-ups and PayPoint says it is prepared to take him at his word.

So, so far, Mayur and PP are still grumbling along together…but only for the sake of the children. And PP points out that it could send in a mystery shopper to see whether or not Mayur is playing around.