Phone calls to wholesalers regarding service issues are costing retailers up to £90 a month, prompting calls for the creation of a wholesaler freephone line.

Last month, a survey by RN and sister publication Retail Express revealed retailers call suppliers an average of 3.5 times a week regarding issues such as late deliveries and refused credits, with each phone call lasting an average of 31.3 minutes.

Smiths News’ and Menzies’ service lines charge an average of 9p and 18p a minute respectively. According to RN’s survey results, the cost to retailers per week when calling Smiths is around £9.85 and £19.71 when calling Menzies. In total, retailers can spend an average of £42.68 a month calling Smiths and £85.41 calling Menzies.

Raj Wadher, from Upton News HID in Slough, said: “A freephone line would be helpful, as we wouldn’t have to worry about bills. Last week, we didn’t receive 10 different magazines, so we had to ring Smiths three times a day to find out what happened. We often call three or four times a week, each call is at least 12 minutes and problems don’t get solved afterwards.”

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said: “All calls should be free. Camelot has opened a freephone line and it shows how working together can be very helpful to both parties.”

A Smiths News spokesperson told RN: “Since 2017, all our customers have been able to contact Smiths News on an 0345 number. That is free to call in the vast majority of inclusive contracts.”

Meanwhile, a Menzies spokesperson said: “We provide several ways for our customers to contact us, including local call numbers and our free online portal, i-Menzies. Customers can complete most business transactions using i-Menzies at a time that is convenient to them, meaning there is often no need to call.”

Read more: How Retail Express, RN and NFRN can support newstrade