I had a call from a retailer who requested anonymity. He had a list of gripes about PayPoint, but his main one was that a customer complained that he had charged extra for taking a credit card payment for a utilities top-up, even though he explained that he was just covering his costs.
The customer went on to complain to PayPoint and his terminal was briefly suspended. I know PayPoint’s contract prohibits retailers for charging extra for transactions, but I thought charging for credit card payments was allowed. Companies such as Ikea charge and trading standards has no problem with it either.
He maintains that his customers these days, in the main, only do gas and electricity top-ups and it’s costing him 90p to bank every £100, so overall that adds up to £50 a week.
He further complained that his rep came in to tell him he was among the “chosen”. As the PO is getting rid of benefits payments, he’ll be able to pay them out. This, he says, means thousands in the till to make payouts, with increased insurance implications and security risks, and for what commission?
I put all this to Peter Brooker, spokesman for PayPoint, but obviously he couldn’t discuss the specifics without knowing the identity of the shop.
He replied: “You’re right about not charging customers or making the use of PayPoint dependent on making a purchase and so on. We do know that, although PayPoint is cash only (apart from TV Licence, which is done through our terminal so no processing cost is incurred by the retailer), some agents do let customers pay by debit card, as an extra convenience.
“If they charge for this service, the law says they must make it very clear to the customer before the transaction is processed and, importantly, they can’t discriminate - it’s everything, not just PayPoint.”
He added: “We offer our retailers a special deal with Barclays at 15p per £100. Maybe it’s something he should look at.”
And he concludes: “As for benefits payments, everything will be explained to him properly.”