The current row between PayPoint and its rivals over exclusivity agreements, which resulted in 3R Telecom taking its gripes to the OFT this week, cuts right to the heart of retailing. Should an independent retailer be free to sell whatever product and offer any service he or she likes if customers want it - as long as it's legal, of course?
PayPoint, the dominant player in the electronic payment business, is naturally keen to preserve its advantage. However, 3R and fellow rival Payzone of course want the market opened up as much as possible to enable them to compete better.
As yet it is unclear whether the OFT will get involved. But would an investigation be such a bad thing? Perhaps it would be a positive step to clear this matter up once and for all.
PayPoint clearly has the most to lose, so I'm guessing it wouldn't be thrilled. After all, the two most recent cases of regulator involvement in matters of exclusivity agreements - the EU investigation into Coca-Cola and the Competition Commission's inquiry into Wall's ice cream - didn't go well for the companies hoping to remain exclusive.
Related article: Paypoint defiant in face of 3r Telecom's complaint to OFT