Gurpreet Rehal got a bill some time ago from Cashzone for £16K in backdated business rates for his hole-in-the-wall ATM. The company chased quite persistently for a while and, at one point, there was a debt collector involved. There followed a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in attempts to negotiate a sensible settlement, but in the past couple of years the communication had dried up. He has had the machine for eight or nine years and he is on an old contract which ends next year. He’s planning to sell the business and he wants some sort of resolution - “something affordable and realistic” - otherwise he will have to have the machine removed at the end of the contract.

Prior to 2010 just one rateable value applied to premises and Cashzone’s contract does say that the customer is responsible for the rates. But to Gurpreet’s mind this has always meant the rates for the shop (and he is paying no rates on his shop this year). The VOA, which must regard the financial sector as a cash cow, now regards the ATM as a separate entity and charges its ATM rates on usage, and even though the hole takes up no space at all, it is now rated at about £4K a year.

Gurpreet asked if I could intervene so I asked Cashzone if they could come up with some sort of reasonable settlement.

A spokesperson for Cashzone says: “We appreciate Mr Rehal’s situation as we know that the backdated business rates bills are a burden on many retailers across the country. We knew that it would be hard for many shop owners to suddenly pay these bills and, where possible, we have tried to soften the immediate impact of the backdated business rates for many of our customers. We have also campaigned very hard alongside other retail organisations to put an end to this unjust situation and make the voice of retailers heard in front of politicians and other government decision-makers. Unfortunately, so far, the government and the VOA have not moved in their position on this.”

So, as you can see, the question of settlement went unanswered. All everyone can agree on is that it is an unfair situation for retailers.

Gurpreet has put his own offer to Cashzone so we must wait and see.