TRADING STANDARDS PROTOCOL SAYS BRULINES FIGURES USED TO FINE PUB TENANTS ARE “ESTIMATED”, EQUIPMENT CAN BE “CIRCUMVENTED” AND ADVISES TESTERS TO KEEP TENANTS IN THE DARK
This trading standards protocol should be published in full by local trading standards officers investigating Brulines equipment in pubs says GMB
The Trading Standards protocol for officers testing Brulines equipment in pubs makes clear that quantities derived using the measuring equipment are “estimated”. The document also says that Brulines claim that the equipment is subject to repeated circumvention. It goes on to specify the arrangements that Trading standards officers should make to have Brulines reps present during inspections. It provides for Brulines to supply information to officers to be kept confidential from the publican making complaints about the accuracy of the equipment.
25,000 tenants are tied to buy beers from the pubcos at wholesale prices that are up to double the free market wholesale prices. Pubcos use flow meters in 25,000 pub cellars, connected to a wireless transmitter to sending data to computers operated by Brulines of Stockton on Tees to monitor the quantity of beer sold in the pub compared to the amount delivered to the same pub by the pubco. Where the volume sold, as measured by the system, is greater than the volume delivered is considered a negative variance and can result in severe penalties for the tenant.
The document says that “in relation to Trading Standards matters, some of these pub chain owners may use the monitoring equipment information to take civil action against individuals running a licensed premise who are acting outside their terms of contract e.g. buying beers from an unauthorised source (out sourced).”
The document adds that “ there has been some evidence that certain pub chain owners quote specific quantities of ‘out sourced’ beer and seek compensation based on this quantity. The quantity tends to be based to some extent on the monitoring equipments readings. It needs to be noted though that the final quantity quoted is very likely to be discounted by various adjustment factors e.g. estimated line cleaning, and estimated stock levels.”
On Trading standards officers testing the equipment in local pubs the document says “ There is no read out on the premise where the equipment is installed making it difficult for officers to test the equipment” and goes on to say .” Brulines may also offer the investigating officer statistical evidence in relation to that premise (which should be kept confidential i.e. not released to the complainant at that time).”
The document says that Brulines have experienced numerous attempts to circumvent or even sabotage the equipment in order to discredit results.”and it lists nine of the most common main techniques that Brulines consider are used to so. A brief summary of the main methods are:
1. By passing the flow meter – This can be done in a number of ways which involve cutting into the beer line either side of the flow meter. This is either done to an individual meter or all meters. Generally a bypass valve is fitted which can redirect the flow around the Brulines flow meter as and when needed.
2. Concealed dispense points – Once the Brulines equipment is installed new unmonitored dispense equipment is installed and used. Whole concealed cellars have been found in the past.
3. Temporary dispense boards – These boards are connected to the spear feed pipe and main gas ring main. They can be installed and removed in a matter of minutes.
4. Magnets – Magnets of differing strengths are used to slow or stop the flow meter.
5. Sabotage – Water can be deliberately sprayed into the EDIS data storage and transfer unit
6. Isolation of the electricity supply – This can be done by removal of the fuse from the EDIS box, or disconnection of the box from the supply.
7. Interfering with the communication link – attempts have been made to damage or cover the antenna interrupting or stopping the transfer of data
8. Use of G clamps – Simply clamping the flow meter and applying pressure to prevent the meter from turning freely. This often leaves tell tale signs but not always.
9. Removal and replacing the flow meter wheel – Dismantling the flow meter and removing the wheel for periods of time.
Hayley Brennan GMB lead officer for tied tenants said “ The Trading Standards protocol confirms what we have all known that Brulines quantities are “estimated”.
The protocol contain arrangements for Trading Standards officers to make arrangements that Brulines be present when officers are inspecting equipment. The requirement for Brulines reps to be present is not a requirement in many other trading standards protocols i.e petrol pumps. The protocol shows the extent to which Brulines are seeking to get public officials to collude with them by supplying information that they want to be kept confidential from tied tenants who ask trading standards to test the equipment in their pubs. This is well out of order.
This trading standards protocol should be published in full by local trading standards officers investigating the Brulines equipment in pubs.
That Brulines report repeated attempts to circumvent the equipment shows the extent of the “undeclared war” in the tied pubs sector. The fee charged for perceived “tampering” of the equipment is £1,350 and it’s a straight forward extortion racket.”
Contact Hayley Brennan 07850 919933 or Paul Clarke 07713 077193 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823
Notes to Editors
A copy of the full trading standards protocol can be supplied by GMB upon request