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

Service Centre: Jac Roper on a coffee scam, plus Payzone and Paypoint problems

Wake up and smell the coffee rip off

Gunvant Patel got in touch from Hangleton Service Station in Hove, East Sussex, to alert us to what he describes as an "increasing problem" with Costa Express. He, like a growing number of you, has a Costa Express machine which is apparently rather easy to fool.

He writes: "We recently found out that a lot of customers are placing the regular-size cup under the dispenser and pressing the button for the large coffee. When the drink is being dispensed they remove the cup for a few seconds to let go of some of the hot water so that the large coffee will fit in the regular cups. They then pay for the regular cup at the till. This way they get more coffee in their regular cup but we end up paying Costa for the large cup.

"The selling price for regular coffee is £2.30 and £2.60 for the large one. So every time the customer uses this trick we lose out 30p per cup. The word is going around on social media and an increasing number of customers are using this loophole, especially the taxi drivers." Gunvant spoke to Costa Customer Services: "They have no solution to this and they would not remove the option for a large coffee on the machine. As this is not affecting their income they have no incentive to do something about it." He says this would be easy to do they wouldn't have to replace the machines, just re-programme them to a one-cup size.

I approached Costa's owner Whitbread for a response and they said: "We are disappointed to learn that some customers are reportedly choosing to misuse our Costa Express machines in this way and are concerned about the health and safety risk to customers when a cup is overfilled. Now we have been made aware of this we will be speaking with our partners to look into the issue."

Payzone mayhem

Not everybody likes Payzone's new contract. Asif Kassam is certainly one who doesn't (in fact he labelled it as "completely murder"). He rang from KP Hill Service Station in Manchester to say that he had been a Payzone agent for 21 years but he has now had it with them. He says: "They installed the new tablet yesterday (August 9) without even telling us. I rang them and asked why? They said haven't you got the letter? The email?" He hadn't.

He told them that it was costing him too much money and he wanted it removed. "I said I'm paying you what I owe you for the old machine. Then I'll cancel the direct debit."

That same day it had been widely reported (including on our website) that the National Federation of Retail Newsagents had already challenged the new contract's legality which it said significantly changed terms and conditions, affected fees, access rights and data sharing. Its T&Cs now arbitrarily altered the contract to a three-year stint with no option to exit without penalty.

I had complained earlier to Payzone on behalf of another retailer and had received the pledge that Payzone would be contacting all of its customers and offering them an opt-out. In other words they were backing down. I sent this to Asif and he then sent me the new terms and conditions that he had finally received from Payzone. It's 30 pages! It also appears that the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing as days later other retailers complained that they were still being told there was no opt-out. Must be mayhem at HQ.

It's not worth tying up the money

You would think if you had been a loyal customer of PayPoint's since it first launched that you wouldn't need to jump through hoops to get a terminal at a new location.

Jagdish Radia has a petrol station in Birmingham and recently acquired a second site, Central Avenue Service Station, in Nuneaton. There was already a PayPoint terminal there and Jagdish thought it would be a mere formality to activate it in his name. But he was told that PayPoint needed a bond of £3K because the new site is now a limited company.

I contacted PayPoint and was told that all they needed was the right documentation, bank details and so on. But, when the rep revisited, Jagdish was told the bond now reduced to £2K would still be required for a year. He has decided that he would prefer to plough the £2K into stock and that his customers would get used to going without that particular service.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 11 December 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East123.7065.90130.36121.00
East Midlands123.22132.06120.72
London123.2858.90131.75120.77
North East122.41132.57120.03
North West123.0453.80129.56120.69
Northern Ireland121.86125.50120.15
Scotland123.43130.00120.43
South East123.79130.52121.33
South West123.5451.70130.13120.95
Wales122.8952.90129.42120.12
West Midlands122.72130.53120.53
Yorkshire & Humber122.96133.33120.61

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