Julian Martin, who runs a Spar store cum post office in Richmond, North Yorkshire, has had two terminals – a PayPoint one and the PO’s ‘paystation’ – for the past few years. He puts 60% of his transactions, including most of his telephone top-ups, through PayPoint (about £1,900-£2,000) and about £700-£900 through the PO.

He was dismayed to receive a letter from PayPoint reminding him of his contractual obligations and a form to sign confirming that he had served notice on paystation. Of course, kicking out paystation would put him in breach of his PO contract. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. “I need PayPoint because there are certain services I can’t offer through paystation here,” he told me, “such as Npower payments.”

He remembers signing a PO waiver, now lapsed, to the effect that he could have another terminal so long as he didn’t shout about it, but he wasn’t sure where he stood on that front now. I did some research into this because I had heard from some subpostmasters that they believed the PO wouldn’t allow a second terminal as it would constitute a rival service. However, a Post Office Ltd spokesman said: “There are no restrictions on the installation of other terminals, but there are a limited number of restrictions on their uses, which are designed to protect and support the sustainability of the branch network.

“We aim to have the fairest policy in the interests of the entire network and this is why we keep restrictions to a minimum. We are, of course, very keen to do all we practically can to help subpostmasters in their businesses as this is beneficial to the whole network.” Then I heard back from PayPoint, which confirmed that a rep had visited Julian to say there had been a misunderstanding and he could keep the terminal. So good news twice!