Tesco has been accused of acting unfairly by a supplier who had thousands of pounds deducted from his invoice as punishment for failing to deliver enough stock.

Speaking to The Grocer, the supplier, who did not want to be named, said Tesco deducted several thousand pounds on two occasions when he was unable to provide the full order under a scheme called Failure To Arrive. "This is outside any agreement, and we keep saying to them, you can't just levy these charges," he said. "They deduct it directly from what they owe us."

He admitted he was sometimes unable to produce enough to fulfil an order, but said this was because Tesco's order volumes fluctuated and an arrangement with Tesco suddenly changed, he said. This made maintaining consistent supply difficult as he also supplied the other three big multiples.

"The agreement used to be if it sent the truck and there was no product, it invoiced us for the trip. That is sensible. But now what it is doing is on top of that. It invoices for what it calls Failure To Arrive - an arbitrary figure per case."

He said Tesco had also asked his business for several thousand pounds to help fund its latest discounts. "We have been there nearly every week for the last month. It is asking us for ridiculous amounts, large sums of money. We ask what is it for, and they really don't have any answer. We are doing all the supporting, we are pumping money in for marketing and promotions. And yet it wants a large sum of money to do exactly the same ."

Another unnamed supplier, however, defended Tesco, claiming Failure To Arrive had been introduced because of continual short deliveries. "All the multiples have a clause that they can penalise you for short deliveries. Asda has 'loss of profit'. Anyone can have the odd problem, but if you are a persistent offender you get hauled in ."

A Tesco spokeswoman said the retailer "can't disappoint customers, so we have to get it elsewhere and that has a cost to us."