Sometimes files live on my desk for so long that they fade round the edges, gathering a patina of age. One such file concerns Visa. Those with very long memories may recall that, last October, I recounted the story of Jayesh Patel, who runs Classic News in Northampton. He had been cold-called by two scruffy-looking blokes who tried to sew up a deal whereby Jayesh became an agent offering pre-paid Visa and MasterCards. No hassles, no credit checks and fifty quid to Jayesh for every one sold. He said no.

Earlier this year I added Ashok Patel, from Hackney in East London, into the mix. He too was cold-called by salesmen touting pre-pay Visa and MasterCards. The deal was the same, with the cards retailing at £199, the retailer getting £50 and the rest going to the salesmen (who also wanted a £1,000 bond). The contract was for five years. He also said no.

After reporting on this, I got an email from Tom Shea, managing director of TRS Trading who said that after seeing the article about pre-pay credit cards he stumbled across a website – www.everything-financial.co.uk – which spelled it all out. I visited the site and there it all was: pre-paid Visa or MasterCard no matter what your circumstances or credit rating. Fee reduced to £129 due to the service receiving over 8,000 applicants in the first six months of this year.

On numerous occasions I have spoken to Visa’s customer services department, to Visa’s fraud department, to Visa’s public affairs department. Each time I explain it all, I email details, I ask the pertinent questions (ie, is this a scam? Does it have Visa’s blessing?) Each time they listen hard and they go, um, that sounds dodgy – we’ll look into it and get back to you. But they never do.

So now I give up. Life is too short, and hanging on the phone to Visa is a short-cut to suicide.

To sum up: I don’t care who they say they are – if they come into your shop offering to make you squillions as a Visa/MasterCard agent, say no.

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