In my last column, I spoke of an exciting new technology 3D printing. Well, not 10 days after the item, plans for a gun were published on the web and a model made and fired with live ammunition.

Before the authorities could act, if anyone polices the web, 200,000 copies of the plans were downloaded. On a perhaps more positive note, a child had a part of his jaw bone reconstructed using a section printed with a 3D printer.

Back to our immediate business, and I also highlighted briefly the card company tricks to have you pay more in merchant service fees. These are the corporate or business card charges which are sometimes up to twice what you pay for an identical looking credit card bearing the main flag of either Visa or MasterCard or others.

There are a couple of initiatives bubbling under, so to speak. The European Union is looking into the charges levied by the card companies and it is seeking to impose a cap on the merchant service fees for everyone to 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards.

This is unlikely to be far enough for a petrol retailer who can and does have his margins sacrificed by this type of excess charging.

The PRA is also lobbying for fairer fees. In many countries around the globe a special ’petrol’ merchant service fee is available, which recognises the fact that while there is a high monetary value to these sales, there is very little profit.

Roll on the day when fairer charges are levied and we can do what we do best and retail fuel fairly and profitably without every Tom, Dick and Harry tugging away on what is little enough margin in the first place.

Biometrics to the fore

European epos provider CBE has added to its range a device that, when used in conjunction with its epos terminal, allows people to log in using their fingerprints.

Not only can the device be used to log in, but also track employees’ working hours.

The next versions of the software will be able to track employee hours versus total cost of operating stores and sites by product and department. Fascinating when looking at the real costs of operating your business.