WHSmith temporarily began charging Telegraph voucher users an extra 30p to ‘cover the cost’ of the latest round of price rises, which cut retailer percentage margins.
WHSmith Telegraph customers and retail staff both confirmed that the change coincided with the paper’s price increase from £2.50 to £2.80 on weekdays. Retailer margins were frozen, cutting gross profit from 20.5% to 18.3%.
One WHSmith staff member told Better Retailing: “The paper went up from £2.50 to £2.80 and we were told to tell customers that the voucher no longer covered the full price, so they need to pay an extra 30p to cover the cost.”
David Roberts from Oxton in Merseyside said: “As a Telegraph subscriber it is really annoying when I go to a branch of Smith’s and am told I will have to pay extra because the token I have paid for doesn’t cover the cost of the paper.”
The extra charge was attributed to an ‘administrative error’ by the Telegraph whereby it failed to inform WHSmith of its price increase, and that the 30p charge has since been removed.
The measure follows a tradition of tit-for-tat retaliation from retail chains in response to the Telegraph’s annual six-month margin cut, which it says is to cover the cost of subscribers paying a pre-price rise rate.
In 2020, WHSmith ordered staff to boot the Telegraph out of its prominent newsstand space and into its business magazine racks. At the same time, the Co-op removed the Telegraph from sale altogether.
Better Retailing has approached both WHSmith and Telegraph Media Group for comment and is awaiting their response.
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