Keeping safe

Khaliq Mian rang from Knowle Garage in Braunton, north Devon, looking for some suggestions on commercial insurance. He uses a local broker but, like most things, the costs have been going up.

He has quite a business to protect not just a garage but a Londis store and Post Office on site. His wife Trude made the national news in November 2012 when she stood up to two armed robbers, men in balaclavas, one wielding a meat cleaver and the other a knife. She tussled with them and one of them put the kitchen knife he was carrying down so he could use both arms and she managed to get hold of the knife and chased them out.

They had smashed her phone but she made it to the panic button. The police were in absolute awe. They quickly arrested the two and they were found guilty a year later.

In fact, while telling me this last month, Khaliq said his wife was due to receive a special commendation for bravery from the High Sheriff of Devon at a ceremony in Bideford.

The above drama did not affect premiums because nothing was stolen and that brings me back nicely to the point of Khaliq’s call.

I asked the Petrol Retailers Association whether it had any deals and indeed it does, with Bluefin.

PayPoint retailers also has access to a deal with Bluefin for specialist shop insurance. Top line details are: £5m public and product liability cover; 50% seasonal increase on any three optional months of the year; 25% increase in money limits for all bank holiday periods and the first working day thereafter; 24-hour personal accident for all staff worldwide; theft of fabric of the building and external attachments (to cover CCTV, bolted-on fridge, motors, satellite dishes and lead on the roof; and additional optional insurance for legal expenses.

Sounds pretty comprehensive.

However, Khaliq hasn’t got PayPoint, nor is he a member of the PRA. But when I last spoke to him, he was investigating the benefits of joining the latter.

When you’re paying for the pick up

When you have a contract with a company to collect your cash Mon-Fri and they regularly don’t show up, you get a little jittery.

I can’t reveal my caller’s identity because as he puts it: "Someone might leave a copy of the magazine on a bus and a random reader would know where I am and that I might have loads of cash on the premises."

Nameless caller has a contract with the Post Office. He says on email (which was copied to his contact at the PO): "The cash is supposed to be collected and transferred the next working day. However, they seem to miss collections regularly and this obviously has a knock-on effect. In today’s economic climate, cash flow is very important as is security too much cash on site could lead to robbery and invalid insurance. Out of the last three scheduled collections, two have been missed on Friday February 28 and again on Tuesday March 4.

"In the past when I have complained their reply has been ’but we credit you for the non collection’. They don’t seem to understand that by not carrying out the service other complications arise." He says he was contracted for the lower charge of £10 per collection of less than £7,500. Above £7,500 and it’s £20. If they miss one day and pick up both the following day, he is charged £15. But again the major point is, if he has too much money on site and suffers a crime, the insurance won’t cover it.

He adds: "On speaking to the drivers, we have found out that new contracts have been taken on from big companies like Argos and it seems that they are getting preferential service."

Before writing this I rang my emailer to see if there had been updates and indeed there had been. "After a lengthy discussion they said they were happy for us to look for another supplier without penalty." He had also had a second discussion with a second person who had told him that the PO had taken on a number of new contracts but not any new staff to match.

Mr Anon said that, when he first signed up for the service about a year ago, the collection was one man in a van but now it had upgraded to fully armoured badged vehicles with driver and one other. So obviously the PO is going for a bigger slice of this market.

What my caller can’t understand is why when he has three post offices within a half-a-mile radius from whom the drivers must be picking up regularly they couldn’t make it to his door regularly.

A free warning at dear cost

Last September I reported on Linda and Richard Shepphard’s non-approved improvements at their R&R Motors in Rampton, Nottinghamshire, with big signage boards and a canopy over the entrance and a wall to stop the kids running in the road. Tut, tut, said the council. The signs went straightaway, the rest was being deliberated. Linda reports back: "We had to take our porch down as the outcome was ’it was not necessary as we only had newspapers outside’. We now have people getting wet. We understand that you can put up a porch if it is private but need planning if it’s commercial. The wall was allowed to stay as we proved it was on our boundary. Maybe the councils think that keeping small businesses going is a laugh. We are now turning the page and forgetting the pain. But we have learnt."