Retailers are up in arms at Vodafone’s plan to introduce an e-voucher for mobile phone top-ups offering lower commission rates than the existing paper voucher and electronic top-up.

And many are threatening to boycott the new product.

Vodafone hopes to launch the new e-voucher in the next couple of weeks. But the network is offering a commission which is 0.5% lower than its existing products.

The mobile phone networks have come under fire from retailers for their policy of continually reducing the commission rates offered on all top-ups.

Most retailers now argue that margins have reached the point where they are almost uneconomic.

John Heagney, Nisa-Today’s commercial director, said: “We are seriously concerned about the continued erosion of margins by the mobile phone networks.

“The latest move by Vodafone, with the launch of the e-voucher with another margin reduction, underlines yet another attack on retailers’ profitability.”

Jerry Marwood, managing director of Spar UK, said: “We are very unhappy with this. Why would we accept the new product with its lower retail margin? There’s no incentive.”

And Kenton Lawton, trading director at Londis, said: “While the initiative is good, the margin being offered isn’t.

“We are happy to work with the networks to promote the sale of top-ups but our retailers need to see acceptable margins.”