Heineken SmartDispense price hike 'unjustified'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Unjustified: Heineken UK to increase SmartDispense fees from February amid rising energy costs (Pictured: SmartDispense system)
Unjustified: Heineken UK to increase SmartDispense fees from February amid rising energy costs (Pictured: SmartDispense system)

Related tags Beer Heineken Finance

Heineken UK is increasing its SmartDispense fees by 9.1% from February.

In an email seen by The Morning Advertiser​, Heineken stated the price hike would come into effect from Wednesday 1 February to cover service, cellar management and early termination fees with rising energy costs cited as the reason.

The email said: “Like many UK manufacturers, Heineken UK is facing unprecedented cost increases. These increases are driven predominantly by the significant rise in energy​ prices, which is also having a dramatic impact on the other costs of other goods and services.”

However one operator, who wished to remain anonymous, called the fee increase “unjustified” as the electricity cost for the SmartDispense system is borne by pubs as opposed to Heineken.

They said: “I really don't understand how [Heineken] can do [this] when there's no extra cost to them.

On the edge 

“It's looking like they're just getting desperate for things to increase the prices on without any consideration that we've all got extra bills as well.

“We're pretty much on the edge as it is, we haven’t only got all the increases in electricity, gas charges and all the relevant costs that go with it, we've also got our own personal cost of living crisis at home.

“We've got a number of staff here and we are responsible for their bills as well, they rely on work to pay their bills. Heineken seem to have the idea they're the only ones suffering and we all have to pay for them.”

Moreover, the operator continued while they understood SmartDispense engineers would need a pay rise each year, their fees were built into the original contract that was signed some months ago and the global brewer​ should honour the initial contracts.

This comes as The Morning Advertiser​ last November revealed Heineken had planned to increase its wholesale selling prices by an average of 15.8%​ on its draught and packaged products, effective from this month.

The operator added: “We need the big boys to take notice of the small businesses instead of concentrating on the big hotel groups and the big chains. We are very much getting forgotten about.

Unprecedented cost increases 

“I can't keep passing these ridiculous increases onto the customer.”

However a Heineken UK spokesperson said the price of SmartDispense had been held for the last four years and SmartDispense customers would continue to receive discounted or free draught hygiene products.

The spokesperson added: “Heineken SmartDispense®, like many manufacturers, is facing unprecedented cost increases. This is impacting the component and production costs of the equipment, transport and other costs incurred to maintain the service levels and support we offer to our customers.

“Whilst we have undertaken initiatives to reduce cost volatility, the scale of these rises means we have no choice but to increase the cost of our SmartDispense® servicing fee.

“We appreciate these are challenging times and continue to seek new ways to support our customers. We will be introducing a new energy bundle that is 20% cheaper than buying and installing the kit direct and enables customers to save an additional £3,700 per annum on their energy bills. 

"We are also launching a new loyalty initiative which will see long-term customers receiving a 10% reduction in their SmartDispense® charges.”

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