It’s not a level playing field

Changing ATMs from free-to-use to charging models has been a bone of contention for many.

Ismail Bhattay rang to complain that he had previously switched to NoteMachine because Cardtronics was going to switch his cash machine to a fee-charging one. In September NoteMachine threatened to do the same at his Mibsons Service Station in Birmingham.

They wrote to him about hard times for the industry and Link’s charges, and said that they would now be introducing a surcharge of 99p per cash withdrawal. He was also told that multiples with NoteMachine ATMs would not be charging.

There had been technical teething issues over the first three months, meaning that Ismail had not hit transaction thresholds but after that he had.

He says: "I know my business and customer base. We are passionate retailers who provide a service to our customers. Companies such as NoteMachine have no consideration for this. I would fully understand if this was industry wide or on selected under-performing sites, but the reason for this is that they feel they can generate more money from charging per transaction despite the loss in usage.

"This leaves us, the retailer, feeling the effects of losing 5,000-plus customers per month not coming onto site.

"We operate from a challenged area. I can honestly say any charge on the machine will bring our numbers down by 95%. The majority of the customers drive onto site; putting a charge on the machine will literally drive them to competitors’ sites which are owned by multiples."

I wrote to NoteMachine pointing out that its letter specifically said the 99p fee would allow him to receive commission/host fees where previously he didn’t owing to not hitting transaction thresholds. Not hitting transaction thresholds was entirely NoteMachine’s fault. I didn’t get an answer.

Ismail did a lot of pleading. He also got the PRA on the case and he wrote to Link which replied that the actual cost per transaction is 2.5p.

Then NoteMachine showed up to re-brand his machine and applied the 99p charge.

I emailed NoteMachine again.However, then I heard from Ismail: "NoteMachine applied the charge but after speaking to you and having got the PRA involved, they reversed the decision after two weeks.

"They called me saying they had reviewed my case and decided to remove the charge, but they did say this was temporary."

The solution to an epos puzzle

A few times this year I have written about forecourt operators having trouble with their epos systems such as interactions between one company’s bit of kit and another’s resulting in a punch-up and a less than smooth operation. Following these pieces Bob Laidlaw, chief operating officer (UK and Ireland) for Southampton-based Orbis Tech, got in touch saying that Orbis did indeed offer a suitable system.

He sent me a 34-page Powerpoint presentation that pointed out that most competitors have ’legacy’ products based on a variety of technologies causing data integrity issues. Like a jigsaw that doesn’t quite fit! Orbis says it is a forward thinking software technology company and has the answer to the puzzle.

Cheap deal! Sign here quick

When Trevor Howell rang from Howell’s Superstores & Filling Station in Binham, Norfolk, to ask whether I thought Kinex would give him a better deal than BT I had to admit I had never heard of Kinex. Trevor has four landlines, one in the shop, one in the garage and the others in two holiday cottages he owns. He also has three broadbands which he says are not used much in the cottages. His quarterly BT bill was £900 which was why he spoke to Kinex.

I did the usual google and got the usual mixed bag. On one of the review sites 97% gave it only one star. Telecomms and energy companies seldom get praised though. What Trevor did though was to go back to BT and tell them that he had been offered a better deal and asked them what they could do. The guy he spoke to said he thought they could get £200 off his bill and Trevor asked for it in writing. Once he has analysed it and looked into another option that has cropped up, he is going to report back.