Some of you - those sterling few who never procrastinate and applied for their ’grandfather’ licensing rights early to beat the rush are now finding they are being billed for their renewal fees early too. Councils are making up their own policy on this one because central government didn’t spell out this precise little wrinkle in the new Licensing Act.
Anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together will know that, this time last year, licensed retailers already held, erm, licences. The magistrates kind. So why should they pay their premises renewal fees before November when the new regime started?
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is lobbying the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, for clarification. ACS has also had it looked at by its lawyers and tells me that not paying the renewal fee until November will not threaten your licence legally. It is a civil matter and the local authority cannot just withdraw it. However, one has to add a proviso: don’t make any mistakes, of the licensing variety, between now and then.
MONEY ON PAPER
Has anyone out there had any dealings with Paper Roll Logistics? Stephen Eynon has and is still smarting.
He emailed me after reading my columns in which I recounted Tony Barlow’s saga with Saxon Paper over unwanted till rolls and threats from debt collectors.
Stephen’s business, Gilwern Garage, fell victim to Paper Roll Logistics in the ’usual way’. "Telesales rang up and asked a member of staff just to confirm an order of till rolls, which they did," writes Stephen. "Then along came two boxes of till rolls, 12 in each. Then a few days later an invoice for £209.05. I nearly fell off my chair," he says. "I knew I would be in for a hefty bill but that is criminal. I can’t arrange for them to be picked up because no-one will answer the phone." In an attempt to run Paper Roll Logistics to earth, I typed its name into Google and bingo, up it popped on the scams page of the website belonging to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) along with a dire warning from the Trading Standards Service (TSS).
TSS had received a number of complaints from businesses about Paper Roll which sometimes follows its invoices with claims that it has recorded telephone agreements. Trading Standards has written to Paper Roll informing it of the complaints.
According to the tradingstandards.gov.uk website, Paper Roll Logistics is a Canadian company with particularly calculating cold-calling tactics. They ring up asking only for a name or confirmation of the company address. The trader then receives a box of till or credit card machine rolls with an invoice for £200 or more (10 times the normal cost) followed by numerous demands for payment.
Obviously I advised Stephen to ring up his local Trading Standards office to make them aware - or to add to their awareness. TSOs can and do prosecute when they get enough complaints.
I usually also advise retailers stuck with stuff they never knowingly ordered to write a recorded delivery letter to the company to advise them that the stock is taking up precious space and will therefore be charged rent if not picked up within seven days. Send a copy of the letter to the TSO.
Trading Standards Service has also requested, on FSB’s website, that anyone who has been contacted by or bought from one of the following companies to get in touch on 0845 600 6262.
The main company is Fast Post which trades variously as Butterfly Publishing, Franking Solutions, Labelforce, Mailroom Direct, Mailroom Direct Wholesale, Mailroom Supplies (Labels), Maxipost, Post Supplies (GB) and Southern Telepost.
A retailer with a two-lane, two-till shop is in negotiations with his back office computer supplier over a system that he alleges gets more things wrong than right. For this reason I am not using his name, nor can I name the company until this is resolved, at which point everyone can have their say.
The retailer has had the system for 18 months. He paid £18,000 for it and claims that it was so problematical that he actually lost a member of staff through it and has wasted a minimum of £6,000 in the extra work it has cost.
All he can use this pricey system for at present is pricing. It cannot be used for stock control or ordering.
Although I can’t identify the company I can tell you that the retailer has HTech tills that he says are "fantastic" but the back office system can’t seem to communicate with the tills. The problem seems to date back to the system going from the DOS operating system to Windows. He has asked if any other forecourts out there have experienced similar problems as this may help him in his negotiations. So if any of this sounds familiar, please get in touch.