From time to time I get calls from retailers advising me that PayPoint has told them it's PayPoint or Payzone, one or the other, not both, although I do know of retailers who have more than one terminal in their store in an effort to favourably manipulate their transaction fees.
Now we have 3R Telecom complaining that PayPoint is putting arms up backs to make retailers eject their terminals in order to keep PayPoint.
Jatin Desai, who runs JB Newsagents in Highams Park in North-east London, is on two weeks' notice from PayPoint as this is being written, so by the time it is published he will probably no longer be a PayPoint agent as he is not willing to jack in 15 years of loyalty for seven.
"We've been dealing with 3R for 15 years," he told me, "so I can't just chuck them out. I've also had PayPoint in my store for seven years but they didn't offer the same solutions at the time. Now they do and they're insisting that I chuck 3R. Well, I never see the MD from PayPoint but I do sometimes see someone from 3R."
For its part, PayPoint says: "Read the contract." The company's theory is that if all the transactions go through PayPoint's terminals, the average commission will be bigger. "If they cherry-pick, they get less," said a spokeswoman.
It's a tricky one. One can stand back and admire the success that PayPoint has had: 17,000-odd terminals, beating the Post Office easily into second place (see lead story) but, on the other hand, while PayPoint has been building its network on the back of thousands of independents doing some very low commission transactions in return for those two four-letter words 'foot-fall', there have been other contractual agreements to consider.
What if a retailer has a binding five-year contract for a service and also offers the PayPoint spectrum? If PayPoint adds to that spectrum and it encroaches on the service the retailer already offers via another supplier, what then? Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.