Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Service Centre: Jac Roper on two money stories - one with no cash and the other no collections

A cash point with no cash is no joke. You offer extra services, on top of your normal marketing mix, in order to draw in the punters and to make a bit (never very much) on the side. All very well when it's glitch-free, but a pain when it isn't.

A case in point was Alistair Murray's external ATM. When he got in touch it had been money-free for over a month and it was another couple of weeks before it finally got something in it to offer to customers.

Alistair, who trades as Cothouse Services in Argyll, switched from an internal ATM to an external one after a couple of break-ins (the second time he lost £1,800).

So it then resided outside, on the forecourt with customers being charged, he thinks, £1.85 to use it. He is in a rural position, which is why he thinks people are happy to use the machine, but when he contacted us they had been complaining.

He said that when he asked Cashzone when the cash was coming he was told that that could not be revealed "for security purposes".

"Did they think I'd be lying in wait with a double-barrelled shotgun?" he wonders.

He was mystified as to why he couldn't get it filled up. He says that he remembers one month when he made a commission of £90 that's how much the machine was being used, but during the month that the money ran out it was only £12 and then, of course, nothing.

It did reflect on his business. His customers don't know that it isn't 'his' machine or 'his' fault.

I got in touch with Cashzone and this was the somewhat anodyne response from a spokesperson: "Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We have resolved the problem and sincerely regret any inconvenience that Mr Murray has encountered.

"We hope he accepts our apologies and we will work hard to regain his trust in our usually very high levels of service."

I'm sure as a rule, Cashzone does offer a good service.

As it has claimed in its Forecourt Trader ads, it manages 2,500 ATMs across UK forecourts. It says: "We fit. We fill. We fix." Exactly what Alistair wanted and, I'm happy to report, he is now getting. The company told him that it had recently switched carriers but even so, six weeks is a long time in or out of business.

A story like a broken record

I'm keeping this retailer's name semi-anonymous and not revealing his location either because he is in the middle of moving his money collection service from the Post Office to a new courier and he has tons of turnover to protect.

I've reported Nailesh's frustrations several times before the story is like a broken record but the last email I received from him positively screamed with fury.

Here's a sample: "Once again the Post Office has excelled itself. We did not receive a collection last Monday but then had one on Tuesday. However, because we handed over the takings for both days I have been advised that I will be charged for both days. Even more astonishing is the fact that I have been informed by customer services that this week we will only be getting one collection on Friday, instead of five! I have also been told that it is my responsibility to inform customer services that a collection has been missed if I do not want to be charged for the missed collection! Please confirm this to be correct Post Office policy."

A lot of the foregoing was in capital letters and where you see one exclamation mark there were countless.

He says: "We gave the Post Office a week's notice and they agreed we would get two collections for the week ending November 5, on the Wednesday and Friday but they didn't show up on the Friday and didn't notify us. All that money on site all weekend. We have washed our hands of them."

I got a response from the PO (which did not impress Nailesh). Adrian Ryder, area manager, says: "Post Office operates a cash collection service that handles around £2bn of notes and £53m of coins each month. Unfortunately due to operational issues at one of our depots, we have been unable to guarantee the service requested by (Nailesh). We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this has caused and are helping the transition to a new provider, and will waive the contractual notice period."

I think that, technically, the PO owes Nailesh money too all those collections he was charged for that didn't actually happen?

Jolly holly, jingle tills, luvly jubbly

Let's face it... in the retail world and in our bit of the real world Christmas is all about consumerism. It is an all-inclusive event that many, many non-Christians celebrate in their own way. I like the pagan stuff: the feasting and the celebration of the return of light (and I am writing this in the midst of Diwali with fireworks going off all over the place).

Christmas is certainly a distraction from the deep, dark mid-winter. So people need bright sparkly things and yummies. Everything they see and read persuades them to buy, for themselves and for others. To get together and over-indulge.

I'm sure you have planned for it and I pray that you reap the rewards. And well in advance, I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous Yuletide.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 13 November 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East122.9762.90129.22120.30
East Midlands122.51131.19120.13
London123.0159.23131.32120.49
North East122.2163.40130.26120.15
North West122.3953.80130.05119.91
Northern Ireland121.09125.70118.82
Scotland122.68128.95119.79
South East123.2069.90130.92120.88
South West122.77128.85120.30
Wales122.4253.90128.26119.82
West Midlands122.0958.90130.41119.94
Yorkshire & Humber122.3453.70132.45119.99

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