There appears to be no way that Mohamed Matadar can get the customers of Adam & Sons News in Bolton to wake up and smell the coffee.
He sent me a huge trail of emails cataloguing his saga with Smiths News over a three-year contract he is locked into with Jack’s Beans.
He writes: “I have tried all sorts of promotions over the past 12 months, but to no avail. Jack’s Beans have me locked in weekly for £50.40 which I have no control over because it’s paid on my weekly news bill, and they know this. The more they drag this out, the more they’ll have from me. I am in a situation that I’m absolutely fed up and stuck with.”
He first raised the issue of low sales back in February. His sales manager arranged a promotion to give away free coffee for a week in the spring. But he managed to get just four customers in seven days to even try the stuff. In July they tried reducing the price.
Mohamed switched the machine off at one point and told them he wanted out. The termination cost, though, would be £4,301 + Vat. At this point Smiths suggested that he was in breach of contract and accused him of having “another supplier”. He says he does not and has never sold tea/coffee from another supplier during his contract with Jack’s Beans, He says: “The machine was switched off on the basis that if we couldn’t sell coffee during the cold periods there isn’t a chance we could sell any during the peak summer season.”
I told Mohamed that all I could do was to contact Smiths and ask them why, if it really wasn’t working, they wouldn’t let him out of what looked like a pretty one-sided contract.
This was the response from head of brand network Bronwen House. “We are aware of Mr Matadar’s query and have been in dialogue with him on this matter. As you know, Mr Matadar has previously signed a three-year agreement for a Jack’s Beans machine and we have therefore been liaising with him in order to secure some joint commitment to running some sales campaigns; important activity in the context of engaging with customers to secure the targeted uplift in sales we all desire.
“As a business we take our responsibility to all of our Jack’s retail partners seriously and have worked with a number of retailers on various sales initiatives to successfully secure a step change in sales. I understand that Mr Matadar’s preference is to ‘walk away’ from his agreement, however, given the three-year term, I would urge Mr Matadar to engage fully with the team who are here to help, so that we can collectively look to secure an uplift in sales.”
This is being written in the weeks run up to Christmas and Mohamed updated me with the latest: “I’ve sold 12 cups this week on what was a cold week here in Bolton!”