CP All open to talks to resolve AIS fee dispute

CP All open to talks to resolve AIS fee dispute

CP All Plc, the operator of 7-Eleven convenience stores, says it remains open to negotiations with Advanced Info Service (AIS) on unsettled commissions for its mobile top-up service even as the ban on the service at its stores, imposed last month, remains in place.

Suphachai Chearavanont, president of True Corporation and vice-chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), said there is no permanent ban on AIS's top-up service for prepaid cards as far as he knows.

"The ban stems from a normal unsettled commission deal and has nothing to do with any specific conflict between AIS and True Corp," he said.

AIS and 7-Eleven have been doing business together for 16 years.

"Personally, I think once both companies come to an agreement, they might return to their normal business partnership."

However, he declined to elaborate on future negotiations.

Mr Suphachai, who is also chief executive of third-ranked TrueMove, the mobile subsidiary of True Corp, insisted 7-Eleven does not grant any privileges to TrueMove regarding the mobile top-up service despite the company being an affiliate of CP.

TrueMove currently pays the highest commission to 7-Eleven at 7%, compared with 5% for AIS and 6% for Total Access Communication.

If AIS customers top up 100 baht, the convenience store operator earns a commission of five baht. 7-Eleven wants to raise the commission for AIS's top-up service to 7%.

"I guarantee that TrueMove was not the party behind the ban because both companies [TrueMove and 7-Eleven] have separate management and operations," Mr Suphachai said.

The service ban by 7-Eleven has sparked criticism from consumers as it has caused considerable inconvenience.

The dispute has hurt both 7-Eleven and AIS as the convenience store operator is facing a potential annual revenue loss of 1-1.2 billion baht from the mobile leader.

AIS is also bearing the brunt of the tussle as 7-Eleven is the most recognisable convenience retailer in Thailand due to its vast network of franchises.

In addition, many people prefer to refill their cards via the convenience store's counter service as they are not familiar with top-up machines.

As of June 2016, AIS had 33.5 million prepaid customers out of a total 39.4 million subscribers.

Titipong Khiewpaisal, senior vice-president for marketing at AIS, said the company could not accept 7-Eleven's request to increase AIS's top-up commission. However, AIS is ready to talk if 7-Eleven is open to a new round of negotiations from which both parties will benefit, he said.

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