I got an email from Trevor Griffiths, (Overbrook Recovery Services, Gloucestershire) which said: "We are a small garage who opened in 1969. We were first of all with BP and then changed to Butler Fuels in around 1981. They were eventually bought out by Power then Certas. The end of last year I had to have a fairly big operation which resulted in me being in hospital for a while and then receiving a course of treatment." He adds that, unfortunately but understandably he did not quite have his finger on the button. He changed bank managers at HSBC at that particular time and despite having an agreement with his previous bank manager, a payment was stopped and despite owing Certas nothing they stopped delivery on his fortnightly tanker.
"Worse: where they stopped our fuel supply we have also had our credit limit cut in half which could finish us off. But they are refusing to release us from contract although we owe them nothing," he says.
I got in touch with Certas it has to be said with some difficulty over a series of out-of-date ’contact us’ directions on their website. I got a brief response. "The Gulf Retail team is aware of the issues raised by this long- standing and valued customer, with whom we continue to trade. We have been in dialogue for some time to resolve these issues and continue to do so."
Trevor responded: "This is not exactly true. We ordered fuel and it did not arrive. Certas stopped delivery without notifying us which was very disconcerting. We have suggested a release from contract because of this, which would technically put us out of the fuel business.
"I believe this action was caused by the accounts department and not the sales team. We therefore have little or no confidence in Certas. The only real dialogue has been between me and the sales team."
Now Trevor says he is wondering if anyone else has had similar problems with Certas. Only you can answer this.
A case of credit where credit’s due
All spruced up... and with good epos too
I don’t know how many forecourt operators have had problems with their epos systems. But I do know when it goes wrong it can be catastrophic. Back in the summer I asked through Forecourt Trader’s sister paper, Convenience Store, for recommendations for a retailer looking for a good epos system for his store and post office.
I didn’t expect much response and didn’t get much but then I subsequently heard from Goran Ravan. His story has a much better home in Forecourt Trader. He writes: "I read your article with interest regarding the new epos system Sudipe Lekhi is after for his store. I really can’t recommend TLM enough for help in this area. My background is different to that of Mr Lekhi in that we operate a dealer petrol station so have different requirements, however the help that TLM have given us on our upcoming redevelopment has been second to none.
"With TLM’s help we are moving from a standard two-till system to a three till, with a portable till unit that can be ’wheeled out’ when required and used to queue bust.
"This will be card only, however the quicker I can clear down the queues the better."
I passed the info on to Sudipe and then rang Goran to find out more. New projects appeal to him. He has just invested around £750K to redevelop the site. Following issues with wholesaler Palmer & Harvey, his Mace store upgrades to a Budgens and there will be parking for 26 cars.
"We are surrounded by green belt which will protect our assets," he says, "but it’s a big step for us."
So much change. What about Shell? It’s been Shell forever. "I think we must be the longest-running dealership with Shell in the country."
How do you feel about contactless?
At one of my local forecourts the manager tells me that you can always spot the petty criminals and that he dislikes contactless cards because of their dodgy associations.
He says: "People do crime at night and hit the first place open. If you try to tell them the machine isn’t working they say ’make it work’ instead of offering a PIN number. They can be quite intimidating."