So farewell, then, mister cheque - you served us well. Well, actually, if the truth be told you were really a right pain in the arse, but we used to handle a hell of lot of you once upon a time. Check for the Shakespeare hologram, does the sort code match, which building society is it that you can’t be certain of, check the signature... the list was endless. Quite how we didn’t end up with many more bounced pieces of paper I’ll never know. The news that even Sainsbury’s has stopped accepting cheques in its stores from August must surely hasten their complete demise from all forms of retail. For once petrol retailers were ahead of the game - most of us had banned them a long time ago, but that didn’t stop us from getting stick from the odd customer (and, boy, do we get some odd customers) who reckoned we couldn’t refuse his perforation. At least it won’t only be ’you petrol retailers’ who are accused of being rogues and vagabonds.

Talking of rogues and vagabonds, how are you doing with your insurance company at the moment? Turn on the TV and the adverts seem to be wall to wall insurance companies trying to get you to switch to them. Mostly it’s car insurance, but there’s also a fair sprinkling for buildings and contents business as well. Whenever I see such a deluge of advertising for one particular industry I can never decide whether they’re desperate for business or making an absolute fortune. Judging by my recent experience I think it may be the latter... Now, I appreciate that you may not be factoring a reduction in insurance premiums into next year’s budget if your forecourt was one of the unlucky ones that was recently submerged. However, if you’ve been claims-free, it might seem reasonable - with all that competition about - that you could expect to make some level of saving on your annual premium. If only life were that simple!

Two years ago I had someone make a claim for an alleged fall on the site. This was at the height of the ’Have you had a fall that wasn’t your fault’ TV blitz, and this particular individual had obviously decided that there was some easy money to be had and that I was the one who was going to provide it! According to him, he was walking across the forecourt when he slipped on a patch of petrol and fell. Naturally he had suffered severe shock and bruising. His right wrist was sore and painful and his back hurt so much that he hadn’t been able to work for months. Which was interesting, to say the least, as our CCTV showed the guy happily walking into the shop, bending down to the bottom shelf to get some crisps, pointing to the brand of cigarettes he wanted, signing his credit card voucher before walking back across the forecourt and then jumping onto his motorbike and roaring off down the road.

An open and shut case of fraud, as I told the investigator from my insurance company. And I supplied the company with multiple copies of CDs from our hard disk showing every conceivable camera angle. Naively I thought that would be the end of it. They would deal with the matter quickly and either prosecute the guy for fraud or at least send him away with a flea in his ear. Instead of which the matter still drags on. The company seems reluctant to reply to the other solicitor’s letters and whenever I try to chase them I get the run-around of it’s a different person dealing with it now, the person dealing with it is on holiday, the file’s now at a different office etc etc.

In the meantime there’s a provision outstanding on my claims experience of £10,000. And there’s the rub! Try to get a quote from other insurance companies and you have to tell them about the provision. And that’s when their interest evaporates, leaving me stuck with my existing company and their premiums which are based on the provisional claim being paid.

Unlucky? Or is this provisions job a nice little scam? I’d like to know if this has happened to you.