Independent retailers have incorrectly received withdrawal notices for their f’real machines, as their devices were found to have been fitted with outdated hardware.
Last year, the milkshake supplier’s parent company Rich’s began removing machines from retailers on its free on loan model who failed to meet a sales target of 10 cups per day. The decision was met with widespread criticism from impacted store owners who had invested thousands of pounds to accommodate the machines.
However, several store owners told betterRetailing they had received withdrawal letters from the firm in the last few months, despite exceeding the daily target.
Jeet Bansi, of Londis Meon Vale in Stratford upon Avon, said he was selling an average of 5,000 cups a year and disputed the letter with the firm.
Another affected store owner also disputed the notice and was told by f’real that “old hardware” on their machine was sending incorrect sales data. The company waived the withdrawal and agreed to resolve the hardware issue.
Asked to comment on the issues, Rich’s marketing and research and development director John Want told betterRetailing: “f’real invests a significant sum in each retailer store, providing a blender and freezer free on loan on the condition that the retailer supports the offer and achieves a regular cup rate of sale, as stated in the agreement they sign prior to installation.
“The nature of this offer means we must assess store performance on a regular basis. Where stores are not meeting the agreed targets, we send letters offering support and advice on how to drive cup sales.
“Many stores engage with us in response, implementing our recommended solutions and seeing improvements as a result. We have also had positive feedback to the news that we are expanding our portfolio with more flavours this year, as many are excited to offer their customers even more choice and, in turn, benefit from increased sales.
“We recognise blenders require regular firmware updates and we do this on a rolling program. Our service levels are consistently high, with 98% of issues fixed within 24 hours. In any instances where blenders have a serious malfunction or issue, we swap them out.”
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