Retailers are being hit with demands to pay tens of thousands of pounds of backdated business rates for their cash machines, threatening the future of their stores.
Retailers spoken to by Retail Express have reported receiving letters from selected ATM providers or their lawyers, demanding payments of up to £17,000.
There is no way of paying back this much. I’d lose my shop
The bills relate to business rates claims for hole-in-the-wall ATMs from local authorities going as far back as 2010. In many instances, retailers say they were unaware of these costs when taking out the cash machine contract.
Some stores affected by the charges say they have challenged their ATM provider over who is liable for paying business rates on the machines, but in many instances, have been met with silence and followed by another letter months afterwards demanding more money.
“I’ve been threatened with legal action, with bailiffs, with commission cuts. There is no way of paying back this much. I’d lose my shop,” said one retailer, who did not want to be named.
South Shields retailer Tasnim Aslam said she had received letters demanding payment from three different legal firms over the past two years, but she claims that her contract holds her ATM provider liable for payment of business rates. Each time Aslam has sent a copy of the contract clause to the company, she has received no response.
Andrew Connolly from Connolly Spar in Wiltshire has also received “a number of letters” demanding back payment of ATM business rates, but is still waiting for a response.
Asked who was responsible for paying business rates on its ATMs, one ATM provider said it was the retailer, but that this was “depending on the individual contract”.
A spokesperson for the supplier added: “We know that it can be hard for many shop owners to suddenly pay these bills, so we have been trying to find a solution to help many of our customers on an individual basis.”
A legal expert confirmed that retailers are responsible for paying business rates in the contract examples presented by Retail Express.
A case against charging business rates on ATMs is currently at the Court of Appeal. It is feared that much of the £87.6m rise in ATM rates is yet to be paid and this figure could increase as more cash machine sites are identified.
This means retailers not currently paying business rates on hole-in-the-wall ATMs could be in danger of receiving large bills.
Have you been issued a bill for backdated business rates on your ATM? Let us know on 020 7689 3371.