Balbir Singh Retailer

Says: I currently manage a Lifestyle Express c-store in Blyth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and I have had a cash machine installed inside my store for more than three years. I have been hiring it through Link, after having signed up to a five-year contract when one of its field reps called by.

The machine that I rent charges £1.50 per transaction. But that said, it gets a huge amount of use on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. The margin I make represents a significant amount of transaction fees, so I would be more than happy to hold on to it.

Personally, I think that it is a good idea for an independent retailer to have a cash machine, whether or not it is a fee-charging one. Certainly if the machine is empty, I have noticed that general takings at the till go down, but once the machine has been filled up with cash again, my sales begin to climb.

Maintenance has never been an issue. You just telephone Link and it sends a representative round to visit and sort out any problems, often within half an hour of the call. I can get hold of the company fairly easily.

Adrian Page Group services, Nisa-Today's

Says: Within the c- store sector it's expected that unless you're in a high street location next to a bank, you should be considering offering a cash machine to consumers. If you go to the US, there's a machine on every street corner and in every c-store.

Retailers make money on machines by being paid a certain amount by the operator every month, sometimes based on the amount they retain per transaction. They only need to be clocking up 400 transactions per month to make a self-fill cash machine viable. It takes no more than half an hour per day for the retailer to fill it. A fully managed machine would probably require at least 800 transactions per month to make it viable.

Machines commonly cost £50-£60 per month to rent or £2,000 to £2,500 to buy. Some suppliers offer machines on a free placement and this is a relatively no-risk introduction. Retailers commonly keep £1 of a £1.50 charge, so they don't need many transactions to make money.

If a store down the road has a machine, a retailer could still undercut the competition. Fees are partly negotiable.

Graham Mott Head of external relations, Link

Says: Store managers may either buy or rent a machine. They will typically sign a contract lasting at least three years.

The best place to site a machine is by the door, where it attracts the most transactions. A standalone machine can be installed in a day. A more substantial wall-mounted unit may not take much longer.

Retailers filling machines with their own money commonly take the cash out at night and leave the machine open to show potential thieves that there's nothing to steal. If a bank owns the machine, it may recommend that the retailer install alarm systems or embed the machine into the shop floor.

The store manager can carry out top-line maintenance on the machine, but a more complex fault may require an engineer. I would be surprised if that service wasn't offered free as part of the retail package.

If a retailer wants to install a cash machine, I would advise them to look on the internet, find a number of operators and call them. Be prepared to send a map of the local area, shop footfall and a diagram of the store.