Following a backlash from retailers over PayPoint’s cut to commission caps, RN put the following questions to some of the payment services provider’s clients:

– Is it acceptable for independent retailers to be making a loss collecting payments on behalf of your company?

– Would you support retailers charging a small handling fee (between 5p and 20p) to make these transactions more financially viable for them?

– Is it a concern that your brand reputation could be damaged if stores turn customers away or turn off their terminals?

This is how they responded:

THE ‘BIG SIX’ ENERGY SUPPLIERS

SSE: “Retailers play a vital role by providing a convenient location for prepayment meter customers to purchase energy. Life would be much more difficult for prepayment customers, and the vulnerable who depend on this service, if retailers stop processing energy payments.
“PayPoint has a contract with SSE to provide the service through these retail outlets. The commercial arrangement between Pay Point and the retailers is a matter for them, as the service provides additional benefits to the retailer such as an increased footfall into the outlets.”

Scottish Power: “PayPoint has commercial agreements with individual outlets, and we are not party to these agreements.
“We want to offer our prepayment customers a range of choices for making payments, and we have very few reported instances of issues affecting our customers when using a retailer to make a payment.”

EDF Energy: “We maintain that it would not be suitable for us to comment on the commercial agreements between PayPoint and the retailers using their services.”

E.ON: “Our arrangement with PayPoint is commercially sensitive so we will not be providing comment on this occasion.”

British Gas did not respond to RN’s request for comment.

npower did not respond to RN’s request for comment.

OTHER

TV Licensing: “TV Licensing has received no feedback from customers saying they were turned away when paying for their TV licences via PayPoint.
“The BBC has no role in setting the commercial agreements between PayPoint and its agents.
“The number of outlets has almost doubled since we first contracted with PayPoint in 2006, the obligations of which ensure their UK-wide coverage meets agreed levels to ensure customers can pay for their licence locally.”

three: “Many thanks for getting in touch, however, I’m afraid we won’t be able to provide a comment on this occasion.”

Vodafone did not respond to RN’s request for comment.

We also asked the chief executive of PayPoint partner i-movo, David Tymm, if he was concerned i-movo’s reputation could be damaged. This was his response:

“Services like i-movo and PayPoint play a big role in driving customers and footfall into independent retailers, who are a significant proportion of our retail coverage. If essential services customers need are not available at one retailer, that customer will tend to go elsewhere with no guarantee they will return.”