I need a new battery for my MacBook Air laptop. Please would you send me a pound* to help to pay for it. I understand that the previous basis of our relationship was that I supply you with these words for free, but this is a one-off payment. Really. Honestly. And those of you who choose not to contribute won’t be treated any differently from the ones who do. Any suggestion that non-contributors will be denied access to these posts is wholly unfounded.
Of course there is no absolute parallel between the paragraph above and Majestic Wine Warehouse’s ‘request’ for a rebate of 4p from suppliers for every bottle they supply until April next year in order to help the chain to pay for a new warehouse. You, after all, dear reader, are not my supplier. You’re my – albeit non-paying – customer. You can always find another – free – source of the kind of information I offer. Or you can choose to do without it altogether. As a supplier to a major UK retailer, you have less breadth of choice.
The Tesco saga has lifted the lid on the routine way that businesses that one might have expected to be focused on buying and selling stuff profitably have now transmogrified into a very different kind of animal. If Majestic had said that, for a mandatory extra four or even five pence per bottle they would, for example, tweet about a supplier’s wine x times per day, or feature it on digital signboards in their stores, there would be less argument. Despite the unwelcome nature of any retroactive request for cash, that, after all, might serve to boost sales and awareness of the brand.
Asking for cash to pay for the warehouse, however much it might help to improve the company’s logistics, is a very different matter. As is the supposedly ‘voluntary’ nature of the contribution. If you were wearing the shoes of a supplier looking for a long term relationship with the chain, how long would you really spend considering a refusal of the request?
*I have discovered over the years that some of what I write is taken more seriously than I intend. So please note that I am not actually asking for financial contributions. But I wasn’t lying when I said that my battery was dyi