I've had a variety of feedback for Dunfermline Spar retailer Asif Mahmood regarding the deal he was offered by Hanco/RBS of an ATM that's free to customers, fully maintained and offering a good commission. Was this too good to
be true? Asif said the contract was quite long.
The first to get in touch was Pauline Wilson. She, too, trades in Scotland (Teighness Stores, Arrochar). She said: "We have a Hanco machine that's paid for by RBS. We got it through the campaign to bring free cash machines to rural areas. It works well and customers really appreciate having a machine that doesn't charge at long last, but we certainly do not get commission. There was originally talk of being paid £50 rental, but that has never materialised and I doubt it will now."
Then Dave Scott rang from Bootle Stores and PO in West Cumbria. He said: "Hanco approached us in November and our ATM was installed in January. It's the best thing we've ever done. We fill it with the PO's money. It works only in tenners and we don't use torn notes, but if it does reject a note it takes it away from the rest and keeps it in a separate compartment and tells you.
"It's free to customers and we get paid a commission. It's a piece of cake to work and Hanco has been very helpful - it runs a helpline. Its footprint is only 18in x 18in and all you need is a socket. And the contract looked fairly simple to me."
He adds: "We are in a rural part of Cumbria and we don't accept credit or debit cards, we just direct customers to the machine. It is bringing in more business."
Another subpostmaster rang (as did several others) to ask for Hanco's phone number. He said he doubted that he would qualify for the deal set up between the PO and the Bank of Ireland for free ATMs with commission at selected sites. He wondered who was paying for it.
(I guess the PO is saving money because it is recycling its cash through the ATM rather than having to pay bank charges or security fees. A gob-stopping amount of cash passes through POs every day.)
I spoke to Hanco, which verified the above and further told me that RBS/NatWest has actually bought the machines from Hanco. It was all part of a commitment to get free machines into deprived areas and this quota has now been reached more or less.
Hanco also offers free-to-use machines to independents with commission once a certain transaction level has been reached. These deal are done on an individual basis, though.