The group defended its decision to introduce a national rate 0870-coded telephone number, but after intervention from The Grocer said it would inform customers of its existing lower cost landline.
MBL switched to a national rate number after moving to its new Harefield, Middlesex, headquarters, forcing retailers to pay up to 8p a minute.
Shamus Lehal, from the Preferred Alliance of Londis Shopkeepers, said: “This was a cynical move from a company that promised to serve independents better. It is a rip-off
and a worry if it is an example of things to come.”
An MBL spokeswoman said that the company had been advised by its telephone contractor to adopt the 0870 number in order to accommodate extension numbers and allow flexibility.
But she told The Grocer: “The local 01895 number can, however, be made available for limited use and the details will be passed to all our independent retailers.”