If you agree to let a business broker flog your store and then try to cut out the middleman, they won’t take it lying down.

I was contacted by Christopher Duffin who said he was leaving his store, Thorne News in South Yorkshire, in four days’ time. He’d had enough having been stitched up by two photocopy companies and then suffered thousands of pounds-worth of cigarette theft that insurance wouldn’t cover. “It’s been a bad six years,” he said.

The business was advertised online by Hilton Smythe. Christopher says a rep came to his store and took £1K upfront. “I asked her is that it? And she said yes.”

Then at the beginning of August he got a response but the buyer wanted to leave the business broker out of the mix. Christopher hadn’t advertised the sale through any other medium.

He told Hilton Smythe he wanted to quit and they advised him to put it in writing, but added that they had moved. So he asked them to write to him with the new address. This didn’t happen so he just went ahead with the process of transferring.

Then, four days before he was due to quit he got a letter from Hilton Smythe demanding £6K for their slice of the sale.

I asked him whether he was given a contract – or something that he had signed and he had, but he didn’t have it to hand.

All I could do really was to tell Christopher to dig out the original contract because in it there would undoubtedly be a reference to selling and not handing over a cut. The rep may have chosen not to highlight this finer point to him.

I also pointed him at the NFRN’s legal helpline but I doubt they will say anything different.

He could choose to defend and you never know…