Newsagents and convenience stores are planning a long-term boycott of Vodafone, as they try to persuade the operator to reverse its decision to cut top-up commission.
Vodafone’s announcement last week to cut the commission it pays newsagents for processing etop-ups from 5% to 4% prompted an angry backlash from retailers, who staged a second two-day boycott of Vodafone top-ups over the weekend.
The operator’s one percentage point cut of commission rates is estimated to cost each newsagent £100 per year, saving Vodafone around £1.2m over the course of one year.
Kevin Hunt, a Spar retailer responsible for organising the protests, said that 6,800 retailers had pledged their support for the protests, including the management of the retail chain Spar.
A spokeswoman for Spar said that 1,600 of its 2,600 stores took part in the boycott, causing a 40% drop in Vodafone top-up sales over the two days.
Hunt said that although he did not expect the protest to have a major impact on Vodafone’s top-up sales, he hoped the action would make the operator reconsider its stance.
He said: ‘I’d like to say we are a thorn in their side. We’re protecting our margin not just now but for the future.’
A further boycott is planned for this weekend, and the possibility of a longer-term protest to coincide with the introduction of the rate cut at the start of August is being discussed.
Hunt said: ‘There’s going to be, at some point, a long-term switch off – that’s where it’s heading.’