The Federation of Independent Retailers’ (NFRN’s) National President Stuart Reddish has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concerning “significant unilateral reductions in ATM transaction fees paid to retailers by Cardtronics”, under the guise of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further to an exchange of letters between the NFRN and CMA on 25th March and 16th April, regarding pricing and stock allocation competition infringements, the NFRN has urged the CMA to look into Cardtronics and how the company has taken the opportunity to slash the commission paid to independent retailers.

In many cases, independent retailers have had their commission slashed by 60 per cent as an indirect result of LINK’s decision to slash the interchange fee. This has applied even where they have recently imposed customer charges on previously free to use ATMs.

Mr Reddish wrote: “The provision of ATMs in our members’ shops has long been a controversial issue, with one-sided contracts, with limited opportunities to escape even when the provider makes material changes to the operation of the machine and the fees and commissions paid and received.

“As you will be aware, the sector has already been rocked by the decision of LINK to slash the interchange fee, which as filter along the chain as reduced commission for retailers.

“It is being reported that, under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic, one ATM provider, Cardtronics, has taken the opportunity to slash the transaction commissions paid to independent retailers, in many cases by over 60 per cent.

“There has been no indication of any intention to reverse this when the country returns to normal.

“Clearly this is not acceptable.   It amounts to abuse of their contractual position in unilaterally making such swingeing cuts to terms from which the retailers cannot either refuse or escape, it is bad for the long term provision of ATM services and provision of cash and at a time of national emergency it does not seem to be in the national interest.

“I would be grateful if you could look into this as a matter of urgency. Many of our members are already having a difficult time and the longer Cardtronics are allowed to shirk their responsibilities the more damage will be done to independent retail businesses across the country.”

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