Hemalata Patel, owner of K&L Newsagent in Cheshire, has warned retailers who use card payment provider Handepay to be cautious of unauthorised charges from a third-party supplier.

Patel has been using Handepay since November 2018. She told betterRetailing: “I recently noticed that I was being reverse charged for phone calls on the machine from an 0870 number, by a company that carries out upgrades to the system overnight when the shop is closed.”

She was charged £14 extra on her phone bill in September, and an extra £20 in October. “You aren’t allowed to reverse charges like this without the bill payer’s permission, and I never gave it,” she said.

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Patel added that she knows of a number of other retailers who have been similarly experiencing unexpected Handepay charges. “I’m getting in contact with the trade press because I want to warn other retailers what’s going on. I have heard others complaining that exactly the same thing is happening to them,” she explained.

Handepay’s chief commercial officer, Mark Latham, confirmed to betterRetailing that the issue is only affecting a few customers.

“This is a really disappointing situation involving a third-party supplier that has been brought to our attention,” he said.

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“It only affects a small number of our customers who are using dial-up connections for their terminals. I believe the calls were being made when the system was installing a software update.”

He added: “We are sorry that our customer Ms Patel has been charged without her – or our – knowledge. As soon as we were made aware of this, we spoke to her and offered to cover those charges and discuss potentially changing to an alternative terminal type as a gesture of goodwill.

“As a matter of urgency, we have asked the external supplier involved – Spire Payments – to review its systems that have seen Handepay customers charged in this way.”

He added: “We will await a response from Spire with great interest.”

Spire Payments were unable to provide a comment by the time betterRetailing went to print.

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