Camelot and I go back a long way. Just as long as lots of you do, too, I know. Not only did I attend the official launch of the National Lottery in 1994, but a year later I went freelance from William Reed Business Media (which publishes this - your best - industry magazine) and started writing this column. Boy, did I get calls from retailers about the National Lottery.
At that time, and for many years later, lottery terminals were bestowed upon one in three retailers, which meant that two in three missed out. So, yep, a lot of retailers rang me in the early years to ask if I could help them get a terminal.
Sigh. I have no, have never had, any influence over Camelot. Think about it. It has to be ‘whiter than white’. Its primary objective is to raise money for Good Causes. It does this in spades.
However, sometimes one has to question its tactics. Here is such a case.
John Doe (I get tired of Mr A. Non, etc) sent me his ‘tale of woe’. “I have been a lottery retailer since it started back in the 90s, and being in a rural village location it is more of a local service than a money-spinner, with regulars as opposed to passing trade. But as the saying goes ‘every little helps’! Since the introduction of ‘minimum’ sales targets we have been classed as a ‘community outlet’.”
He adds that his sales “have never reached the required dizzy heights”.
He further writes: “Now here’s the rub. The other store nearest to me, which to be fair is larger and has a much better trading position than I have, was given a terminal at the end of last year. No word from Camelot to me about this before or after its installation, and no one is prepared to talk about it on the retailer line either. Okay, so how long before Camelot starts asking the ‘why are your sales down’ question, you ask?”
The letter arrived earlier this month, telling him that he no longer qualifies as a community outlet. It explained that these only exist ‘where an outlet is more than four miles in driving distance from the nearest on line terminal… your store no longer meets the criteria’.
He says: “No, really, Sherlock? Until Camelot plonked another terminal just down the street, this was not an issue.”
He assumes that both outlets were below the ‘minimum’ sales target and asks who decides.
“Call me a cynic, but it looks like after 18 years of faultless service, Camelot has found a way to ‘move’ the village lottery by stealth to a bright new location. There are no bonus points for loyalty these days.”