I had two calls in as many days in late July regarding SD Media, which sells on-screen space in places like doctors’ surgeries, advertising local businesses. But both retailers, Subhas Patel in Richmond, London and Roger Yalim in Margate, Kent believed they were only handing over cheques for around £120 to test the water. In both cases the company filled in the standing order part of the form using details from the cheques. In Subhas’ case, SD Media helped itself to another £671. In Roger’s case it didn’t work because his bank contacted him first and he was able to put a stop on the order. He also checked out SD Media’s references with two local post offices who had been put forward as satisfied customers. Neither had used the service. I spoke to SD Media and the spokesman confirmed that the banker’s order at the bottom of the form is filled in at head office, but he added that the terms clearly point this out elsewhere on the form which both clients signed.

Subhas approached his local trading standards office but the officer he normally deals with was on holiday and he was referred to the police, who in turn dismissed it as a civil matter. However, he may yet get his money back because his regular officer is now back from holiday and says he will sort it out.