To be honest, I didn't expect much feedback to subpostmaster Paul Calladine's complaint last issue about having to pay a £1.50 penalty fee for not settling his PO-shared phone line bill (of about £3 a month) by direct debit fee to BT.
But I see now that some are insulted by this arrangement.
Steve Denham, who runs an award-winning Londis with his wife Lynda in West Chiltington in West Sussex, says: "We have an official PO phone line and yes we pay by cash and therefore get clobbered by this outrageous penalty charge of £1.50
a month."
I can certainly see his point as the smallest bill he had for personal calls was 17p until, of course, BT whopped another £1.50 onto it. Steve adds: "We also get charged at £4.50 per quarter on each of our other three lines. So, for continuing to pay by cash - and, after all, we run a cash business - we have to pay BT £72 a year for the 'right' to do this.
"I know what we postmasters are paid for doing the transaction at the counter and it's not anywhere near £1, let alone £4.50 per bill, so I phoned BT as well as the PO for more details. The PO reply was like a 'wringing of hands' and BT's was: 'It's our policy. We have passed this with the regulator. Other companies charge more, so either change to direct debit or pay up'."
When first reporting on this last issue, I also carried the point that Paul's business development manager (BDM) with the PO told him that no one else in the north-east of England had complained about this.
This prompted a retort from John Beswick in Lincolnshire. He says: "Paul's BDM must lead a sheltered life. I believe it likely that most subpostmasters who took up the PO's offer to use the telephone element of its broadband connection are in the same boat. On the subpostmasters' email forum the number is in double figures from all parts of the country."
He adds: "The only consolation is the line rental saving to offset this high charge relative to the value of calls. But then we must remember that this was offered as a replacement for the subpostmasters' call allowance, average value £25/£30 per quarter including line rental, which was being withdrawn."
By the way, you can join this debate or any other affecting subpostmasters by emailing

SPMRs-owner@yahoogroups.com or going on the website at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/SPMRs.
Or you can ring, write or fax me. Let's keep it going folks.

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