Early Christmas present for Salim

Last month I featured a retailer who was totally ticked off with Innzone for sending him unwanted supplies of e-cigs via their third-party arrangement with Smiths News. He was by no means the first to complain about this arrangement.

I therefore wasn’t surprised to get another complaint once Forecourt Trader hit the doormats. But this was actually a new one on me. Salim Patel, who runs Horwich Service Station in Bolton, got an invoice from Smiths News for £146.58 for Top Team merchandise. As he had had nothing delivered he rang Smiths who said it was nothing to do with them and that he should contact Innzone. He did this and Innzone said the order was agreed on the phone. He said fair enough (his son probably authorised it), but where is the merchandise?

He was told that it was signed for by someone called Flanagan. Salim said he had no one of that name working for him. He was then directed to UK Mail which could only give him the postcode for his area. He tried to hunt it down himself but it was a needle in a haystack job.

In his conversations with Innzone, he admits that he lost his rag a bit because he was told that people lie about not receiving goods all the time. He then thought better of it and said he tried a conciliatory tone, saying "Look mate..." The response was: "Let’s keep it professional." But he felt that Innzone was not being professional, leaving him to try to track the goods himself a month after they had been delivered somewhere else.

I wrote to Phillip Glyn, owner and MD of Innzone detailing the problem. I mentioned that this would be featured in the December issue so it would be nice to report a happy outcome.

And thus it came to pass. I have no idea whether my email had any influence but a few weeks later Salim got back in touch to say that he had got his money back. So seasons greetings to that!

A lorry can cause a lot of damage

This one was a bit complicated. I had a call from Jagish Radia who runs Central Service Station in Nuneaton. He says that a lorry driver misjudged the height of the canopy and drove into it causing damage to both the forecourt and the CCTV. The driver accepted liability and signed a note saying so. Then Jagdish also sent proof (in the form of pictures) to the driver’s employer, logistics company DB Schenker, along with an estimate (£1,605 for the canopy, £175 for the camera).

But he was then told to send his costs to Euro SDB because it was their lorry. When Jagdish got in touch with me he had been unable to get insurance details from anyone and was getting nowhere.

I contacted DB Schenker because it seemed obvious to me that this was a driver fault and not a lorry fault. I suggested to Jagdish that if we didn’t get anywhere he should consider a ’letter before action’, setting out his case very clearly, claiming what was owed and giving a deadline 14 days is usual before resorting to court action.

For anyone else having trouble getting back what is owed you, I recommend the Citizens Advice website which lays it all out, chapter and verse, very clearly.

It points out that going to court is the last resort. If going to court is your only option, you must send the trader a formal ’letter before action’ to give them one last chance to settle the matter.

I suggested to DB Schenker that Jagdish might be considering this approach. Within days he got the okay to go ahead with the necessary repairs and he was sent the insurance details.

Two new ATMs, lots of happy customers

This time around it’s been a hat trick of good outcomes. It did take many months for Cardtronics to sort out Nailesh Gokani’s ATM problems at Empire Garage. Not only has he displayed the patience of a saint, but he has also sent a note of gratitude to various bods at Cardtronics and to me.

He wrote: "Just to say a big thank you to you all for sorting out the long-standing issues we had been having with the single ATM on site. It has now been six weeks since we had two brand new cash machines installed and, apart from the initial teething problems, both machines are working perfectly well and we’ve many happy customers too."

Just enough space left... to wish you all a peaceful and prosperous Christmas. Bring on the crowds!