From an ANF meeting in Newcastle

Hi all,

I have just returned from an ANF meeting in Newcastle tonight. The main topic of discussion was BillExpress/DialTime. A few of the major points that I took away from the meeting were:

) The $495 per month that Newsagents are paying now, has been sold off as a debt to a finance company. This means, that no matter what happens with BillExpress, the Newsagents will still have to pay the $495 per month to the finance company for the remainder of their contract period.

) It was suggested that BillExpress/DialTime owe up to $80 million to Optus alone.

) The ANF have been negotiating with alternative suppliers of phone credit, and will be making an announcement soon on other options for Newsagents.

) There are up to 9 different contracts out there that people have signed with BillExpress/DialTime

A lot of Newsagents agreed to install a new advertising screen from BillExpress over the last couple of years, with the promise of increased revenue from signing up other local businesses to advertise on the screen. When this new screen was installed, the BillExpress contract was extended by BillExpress by 12 or 24 months. Quite often, the Newsagent was unaware of this, and are only finding out when they make inquiries about canceling the service at the end of their contract. At this point, they are being informed that they have up to 24 months more on their contract than they expected.

) The general consensus from the agents at the meeting, after hearing all of this, was that they are stuck with the $495 p/m no matter what happens, and they want to look to the future, and make sure that they have an uninterrupted system for selling phone credit.

There is also a NANA meeting on Thursday that was mentioned tonight. I will contact NANA tomorrow to find out more, and if it is worth me attending as well.

I’ll keep you all informed as I find out more.


Garth Brennan
Senior Newsagency Support