Not a week goes by without receiving a complaint about Payzone. A lot of these are general comments about not being able to get through on the helpline, but Alison Lowe’s complaint was rather more serious.

She and husband David run the tiny Welbourne Post Office in a Lincolnshire village with no other shops or banks for miles around. She writes: “My problem with Payzone began on Wednesday December 3 at 9am when our terminal displayed an error message and we were unable to transact any bill payments, mobile top-ups or most importantly debit/credit card transactions.” They immediately phoned the helpdesk and were advised that a terminal replacement would be necessary and engineers would contact them. “Being left with no debit/credit card facilities was a nightmare,” says Alison. “For some customers on the retail side, our post office was able to provide cash. However, for those customers with cards linked to non-partner banks, they were stuck. For regulars we set up tabs, but we had to turn down custom from passers-by.”

The following day, after several calls to the helpdesk and being left on hold for long periods of time, they were told that an engineer could not provide a new terminal until the following Monday. “It was, in our eyes, totally unacceptable. We lost business and were not happy. Finally, on Monday December 8, the engineer came and replaced the terminal.” Bill payments and top-ups were reinstated, but debit/credit facilities were not back online until the following afternoon, almost a week later all told.

“Our previous provider would send a replacement terminal in the post to arrive the next day. We’d just plug it in and off we went,” she added. “Why can’t Payzone do the same?” She switched providers because Payzone, in partnership with HSBC, was able to offer an excellent proposition with regards charges incurred for card payment services. “It meant our charges would be almost halved,” Alison explained. However, she isn’t convinced that the money she is saving in charges is worth the hassle. Here is Payzone’s response from managing director Paul Charmatz. “We have contacted Mr and Mrs Lowe and are pleased to say that the issue has been fully resolved. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during the replacement of the faulty terminal.” Alison confirmed that her terminal was now working, but would have preferred reassurances that she won’t again have to go a week without debit/credit facilities.