Top of the agenda this month has been the move by the European Commission to limit the scandalous and excessive charges retailers pay for processing credit and debit card payments (see News page 5, and News Extra on page 10).

Two concerns: it’s likely to take ages for any limits to come into effect prolonging the erosion of retail margins. And secondly, fuel retailers are in a worse situation than any other retail sector because of the amount of tax VAT and fuel duty involved in any fuel transaction. Fuel retailers are actually paying about 60% of their merchant service charge on money they are collecting for the government. And considering 70% of payments at forecourts involve cards, compared to an average of about 48% across all retail transactions, forecourts are definitely losing out big time. The longer it goes on, the more money is being leeched from the service station fraternity.

Which is why fuel retailers must complete the online survey on merchant service charges that has been commissioned by the EC. The survey is being handled by financial specialist Deloitte and is on its website at the following address: Doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but persevere if you want to express your opinions on the matter, and hopefully contribute to positive change. So far there has been a poor showing from the forecourt sector (yes the URL doesn’t help!) only three out of 45, according to PRA chairman Brian Madderson, who is urging everyone in the sector to get involved. He says the survey should take about 15-30 minutes to complete; the questions deal mainly with the annual number and value of payments processed.

Elsewhere MPs are urging the Government to act to secure the future of fuel refining, and supporting calls for a full OFT investigation into pricing. It’s not just the weather that’s been hotting up!