Jac Roper


Tom Dant, managing director of Gill Marsh Forecourts, with three service stations in Lincolnshire, copied me in on an email trail with TSG.

He says: “They used to provide the pump maintenance and we have/had their Tokheim Fuelpos epos system. (Two sites still have the Tokheim epos system and one site no longer has the epos system.)

“Normally they would invoice us quarterly for the maintenance charges etc, but in February this year they decided to invoice us for the full year in one go with no explanation.

“They normally also send contract renewal documentation through prior to the start of the next contract – this also did not happen, and we were automatically rolled into new 12-month contracts. When I didn’t pay the large invoice, bearing in mind it amounts to just under £11,000, they put the account on stop. I contacted our rep, who passed the info on to someone else at TSG. I heard nothing, other than when we needed support for our tills at a site (as we had moved pump maintenance to an alternative provider) when the site was told ‘no’ due to the account being on stop. Nearly six months has now passed and on the 20 November 2023 I received two credit notes amounting to around £3,200 (still not enough, but a start!).”

He added: “I now cannot see why I would pay them for support because they refused to provide it! It is now affecting my sites as we have a pump that needs the weights and measures check. Our new provider uses TSG for this, but TSG are refusing to go to the site until the account is taken off stop even if the other company pays them directly and then they invoice me!”

Back in June he sent an email to TSG telling them he no longer required pump maintenance and asking to have it removed from all further invoices. He itemised what he should be charged for each quarter for the sites at Ulceby, Partney and Bilsby.

And he asked: “Please arrange for the outstanding invoices to be credited and recharged correctly. Mainly the £9K one for Bilsby (I seem to think the quarters for that store starts in February, May, August, November – so we will pay for the current amount of support etc until this quarter ends in August). As previously stated we do not wish to extend the Fuelpos support etc for all sites after December due to possibly changing provider.”

Then, at the beginning of this month he further wrote to TSG: “I received two credit notes, one for Partney and one for Bilsby on 20 December 2022 nearly six months after raising a query. As the dispute has been going on so long (I originally contacted TSG in June) we have had zero support as the account has been on hold due to the contract dispute. I will not be paying for any support fees for the period from February until the time in which the account is taken off stop. I will however pay for the software licenses for both sites and OASE [online authorisation and switching environment], online, as we are still using these until mid February when the change of provider is complete.”

I contacted TSG for a response and they replied: “The complaint has been dealt with directly with the customer on Friday 1 December to the customer’s satisfaction.”

I don’t think Tom saw it that way. On December 6 he said: “I did have a phone call from someone at TSG after I had copied you in on the email, but haven’t heard anything since from them.”


It often pays to go to the top

My anonymous caller had a huge beef about his bill for three new tanks and pipework at his Essex forecourt.

The contractor’s initial estimate was £220,000 + VAT. He was okay with this. He says: “We planned to close for two months. It took three-and-a-half months.”

He kept the 24-hour store on the site open and also has a second service station so it wasn’t a disaster - although it turned out to be nearly one.

The rep, who only visited the site twice – once at the beginning of the deal and once, on crutches with a broken ankle when it was finally over, just before disappearing to Australia on holiday – told him that the original estimate fell way short and wanted another £150,000. Plus VAT.

On top of this, the site owner was not happy with the quality of the work. He kept an eye on it thanks to CCTV. The man in charge of the work crew kept apologising for all the snags and then came down with such a bad back that the forecourt operator had to call an ambulance so that accounted for much of the delay as he was off for a few weeks.

The forecourt resurfacing, in particular, was a very poor job.

When he objected the company blamed it on 12 different reasons which he didn’t accept. In the end he withheld the extra payment and was threatened with the small claims court. He had not signed anything and he rang me for advice.

I suggested that, in the first instance, I could contact the company for an official response: the offer of bad publicity sometimes works a treat. But meanwhile the managing director of the company had agreed to visit the site to continue the negotiations. We agreed to hang fire until after the meeting.

We spoke again after the MD’s visit and suddenly the atmosphere was quite different. The MD agreed that there were quite a few things wrong with the work and agreed to put them right. And in the end they settled on a total bill of £255,000 plus VAT.

The retailer was happy with that.

Had it not gone that way I would have suggested a couple things. One would have been talking to trading standards as the work had not been fit for purpose and another would have been Lawyers for your Business. This is a network of Law Society members who will offer a 30-minute free consultation, which can be face-to-face, by phone or by email.

It’s that time of the year!

It’s coming up to jingle tills time again. Also swindle tills time as the shoplifters, already on the up this year, will be in high season. I hope you manage to avoid them and I wish you peace and prosperity. But watch your backs.


You can email your queries, news and views to Jac@roper-biz.co.uk or call 0208 8502 9775