Independent retailers protesting at Vodafone's 1% cut in commission on mobile phone top-ups are to remove the network's products from sale this weekend.

Thousands of stores have signed up to support the protest at www.topupratecut.biz and are expected to take part in what will be the third boycott of Vodafone top-ups on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July.

The action follows Vodafone’s announcement this week that in the three months to 30 June 2008, its revenue totalled £9.8bn - up 19.1% from a year earlier. The company said its continued focus would be on cost reduction, a statement which angered retailers who had been told that the rate cut would fund investment to increase the use of top-ups.

Campaign organiser Kevin Hunt said: “Why does Vodafone, with such massive profits, feel the need to cut the already small commission rate paid to retailers? It is clear from this week's announcement that Vodafone is the only winner here.

"Do you really want to let them get away with small retail stores bearing the brunt of their 'cost cutting'?" Kevin added. "Please support the next three days of action, we really are getting somewhere."

He added that Vodafone's claim that the cut would fund reinvestment to drive sales implied that the increased volume would make up for the retailers' loss of profit.

“If this was true, there would a need to increase sales by 30% which is never going to happen. If Vodafone had the ability to increase our sales by 30%, they would have done it by now.

"It has cited three specific initiatives as the target of re-investment - text promotions, mobile internet and prepay broadband. Text promotions are fairly standard and are run by other networks, so they are unlikely to stimulate any major performance change. The other two initiatives, mobile internet and prepay broadband, are unproven, slow to develop and again, very unlikely to drive this increase in sales.

“This is a difficult time for retailers and we must defend our businesses. I am urging every business owner in the UK who sells top-up to join the campaign to make Vodafone reverse its decision.”

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