Following stories on CCTV, alarm systems gone wrong and insurance reprisals, I have been contacted by many retailers with problems various.

Paul Bhatt of Duncan Stores, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was talked into Redcare following two nasty break-ins, at a cost of £1,500 plus £1K maintenance a year. Mark Wilson, from Fryers in Nottingham, complained that his callout charges for Redcare were £250 a pop.

And, following the piece on cheap versus pricey CCTV, I was also contacted by Richard Cutcliffe, once a retail ops advisor for Spar and now with RhinoCo, which specialises in the subject.

I put quite a few questions to him, such as is there anything wrong with buying a basic CCTV system from the likes of Costco? He says no, although the cameras are almost always wide angle with low resolution.

He adds that a simple self-install system with up to four cameras, digital video recorder and monitor can be purchased for about £500. "Anything much cheaper is questionable," he says.

Watch out, too, for internet dealers selling Sony or Sharp-branded cameras when they are really offering Chinese DIY store-type cameras that happen to use a Sony chip set.

Should you lease? Generally, you have to spend more than £1,000 to qualify for a leased system, which should get you a good quality four-camera digital system and include installation. "Expect payments of much less than £10 a week with tax advantages," he says.

What about service contracts? He says there is little point as most CCTV equipment is reliable and comes guaranteed.

On Redcare, he says that new SMS alarms and smart CCTV systems will probably make it unnecessary.

Contact me if there any questions you would like to put to Richard.