Findings from our exclusive reader panel survey support the view that the row between PayPoint, the utility payment network, and independent retailers over margins is set to blow up again (‘PayPoint told to reconsider’, April 30, p5).
Many retailers moaned that their PayPoint or Payzone terminal did not even cover the bank charges, while others were convinced that the people who came in to use the service did not buy anything.
“The trouble is that the other half of my Payzone customers
do buy things, so I don’t want to lose their custom,” said a shop owner in the Midlands.
Many retailers saw the terminals as “a necessary evil” as they felt their customers had become used to the facility, so it could not be removed.
Others - almost a third - were happy with the service. One retailer in the south east said: “PayPoint is a well known brand that handles a lot of transactions on one unit and I am quite happy with mine. I like the fact the machine rolls are free, too.”
Another service that is key for independents - The National Lottery - was given a much warmer reception. More than 80% of shop owners quizzed in our survey said it was still worth having a terminal.
“I think Camelot has definitely got it right in terms of service levels,” said one.
Others felt that it was no longer a tremendous money spinner as the Lottery had lost its initial popularity.
We also asked retailers about the value of having a cash machine. Most of those with an ATM said customers were charged for getting cash out. Many retailers were unhappy about the charges, but said customers had accepted them.
“It is the 18 to 28-year-olds who never have cash on them and they seem to accept the fact that they are charged £1.65 for taking out a tenner,” said one shop owner in the south west.
Finally, we asked retailers with a sub-post office in their stores how they rated services and business terms offered by the Post Office. Just less than 60% were unhappy. But, as one Kent retailer said, echoing the powerlessness expressed by many: “What can you do about it?”
“Sub-postmasters are not treated fairly in a lot of cases,” said another.
Reader Panel: Independent Retailers