Leap Card Top-Up Services At Retailers In Doubt Amid Row Over Commission

Retailers in Cork, Limerick and Dublin providing Leap Card top-up services will not abide by the apparent new terms and conditions offered to them, and it could mean commuters “will have to go further afield” for such services, it has been warned.

The Convenience Stores & Newsagents Association has written to the National Transport Authority (NTA) to express its displeasure at the commission they would receive under a new contract agreed between An Post and the NTA to deliver Leap retail services.

CSNA chief executive Vincent Jennings told NTA chief executive Anne Graham that the “the terms and conditions that PostPoint/An Post are suggesting our members must accept are substantially inferior to those currently enjoyed by those selling the top ups through the Payzone contract”.

He said the average commission earned by members for Leap card transactions was 50c per transaction in 2019. This has fallen to 39c following the reduction in public transport fares, and Mr Jennings said  they are also seeing reduced Leap Card top-up sales.

“Ann, you don’t need to be particularly perceptive to understand that a “take it or leave it” directive from PostPoint/An Post that the commission paid by them will be restricted to 24 cent per transaction is manifestly inferior to the existing compensation that all of our members currently enjoy through Payzone,” he said.

In July, An Post issued a press release to say it had been awarded a subcontract to supply Leap retail services. It means travel card top-ups will soon be possible in post offices along with Postpoint outlets, of which it said there are 1,600 around the country.

In the announcement, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the move would “further cement the position of the post office at the heart of communities across Ireland”, while the NTA’s Ms Graham said “it makes sense” to enter into the partnership and said it would see the number of Leap retailers more than double to 2,500 across the country.

However, Mr Jennings said the terms offered by An Post to retailers was significantly inferior to that which existed under the previous terms offered by a company called Payzone.

“With regards to An Post/PostPoint, while we obviously are not privy to any (if there were any) promises or assurances that they may have given NTA to show their ability to continue to sell Leap card top-ups through the existing network, I think it only fair to state, quite categorically, that there will be very few existing Leap agents in Dublin, Cork and Limerick who will be prepared to accept the PostPoint/An Post Terms and Conditions,” he told Ms Graham.

This will obviously impact on the commuter in a negative way, as you are no doubt aware that Dublin in particular does not have a large number of convenience outlets with a PostPoint agency.”

In her response to Mr Jennings, Ms Graham said retailers were under no obligation to accept the proposal from An Post to sell Leap cards, and all new PostPoint retailers are required to a pay €500 deposit for hardware relating to the service.

She also said Payzone retailers would no longer be able to sell Leap from the beginning of May 2023, with An Post services beginning in mid-March 2023.

She also said the NTA “does not have sight of, or any latitude when it comes to varying any rates determined by a public procurement process and set out in a contract”.

In a statement, the NTA said it understood the concerns raised by CSNA but said Cubic Transportation Systems won a tender working with An Post/Postpoint to provide the retail element of the services.

“The NTA has no direct contractual relationship with either retail services provider nor any individual retailer,” a spokesperson said.

When asked if an issue of concern would be if retailers decided en masse not to offer such services, the spokesperson added that such issues were “sufficiently addressed” in the winning bidders’ response.

A spokesperson for An Post, meanwhile, said some 400 new retailers have signed up to offer its Leap service so far, ahead of it being available to use in March next year.

“Part of the sign-up process includes a refundable deposit that covers the cost and installation of a new Postpoint terminal,” the spokesperson said, adding the decision to become a Postpoint agent was a commercial one for a retailer, enabling them to offer a range of services to customers of which the Leap card is one.