Where is the back up for the back office?
It’s been technical misery for quite some time at Huw Griffiths’ Llantwit site, where he has five Htec tills which previously had a Flow back office.
Huw says: "Flow was replaced with an ITS back office in January 2018. It’s okay but very, very time consuming as its Sage Accounts link is very basic and the VAT records are also not good. I’ve been looking for new back office for my Bridgend site, which still operates with Flow back office."
He adds that Htec had been promising a back office with Sage Accounts for almost two years. He also complained that the company had gone downhill.
"A recent POS problem which in the past would have been sorted within hours took over seven days, then only after I complained on the Texaco dealer forum and Texaco contacted Htec.
"On the Htec back office I have been promised access to a computer with its new back office for over six months with no joy."
All of the foregoing occurred back in the spring. As I was about to contact the company for a response, Huw asked me to hold off because he had met up with them at The Forecourt Show and got lots of promises.
In fact he suggested a general story line about "how difficult it is for the smaller forecourt operators to find a reliable POS system and back office from the same company that actually does the job like the big supermarkets have, multibuy offers, produces money-off vouchers like Tesco etc, and gives them full honest accountability to HMRC".
It was a pretty good idea but when I checked back with Huw on how it had worked out with his actual problem, he reported: "Nothing promised at The Forecourt Show has materialised with Htec. It just appears that the independent dealer is no longer important to Htec; they are only interested in the likes of Euro Garages etc. It’s no better with IT Retail Systems. Llanwit has been waiting almost a month for a problem on April 19 to be sorted, which is delaying my yearly accounts to my accountants."
I sent all the aforesaid to Htec for a response and I got a couple of emails in return apologising and assuring that they were working on it.
Once again I checked back with Huw and he said things had improved. He had had a phone call and a visit. When we last spoke he was trying out a new PC with a working Calisto program with Sage Accounts before deciding whether to buy it or not.
What’s the point of an ATM with no money?
As this is being written, Ismail Bhatty’s, Uplands Service Station in Birmingham is annoyingly out of cash for the cashpoint machine that is.
He says: "The machine was installed only in April and 50% out of the six weeks of being installed the machine has been out of use. In five years with Cardtronics never did I experience such bad service with the site down for two weeks. This is simply unacceptable."
The ATM is now Note Machine.
Ismail had received a promise from them that they would be attending in early June and when I checked back to see if they met the schedule, they had.
However, the cashpoint is still out of use. "Supposedly the engineer has fixed the lock on the cashpoint; we are now awaiting a cash fill. Once this is done the cashpoint should start operating. For security reasons they are unable to give me a date and time of the cash fill."
Ismail has talked himself into being resigned to the situation. He says: "I have reached a point of accepting this level of service with no urgency of chasing or getting this fixed as it causes tension and grief. Ideally we would like perfect levels of service, but these companies have the whole monopoly. We are subject to them.
"Our previous supplier Cardtronics wanted to add a transaction charge to our (Cashzone) ATM, luckily our contract was coming to an end so we moved to Note Machine.
"The transition took place over the first two weeks of April, I was assured the transition would be seamless but getting the new machine installed, filled and operating took nearly two weeks. I lost out on over 2,000 transactions in April.
May being our first full month, I was hoping to see the transactions numbers back but with this lock issue reaching nearly three weeks this Saturday I doubt we will see previous transaction numbers for months."