I've never met a machine yet that didn't exhibit funny little ways from time to time.

So I wasn't totally surprised when I got a call from a Camelot retailer worried about his terminal, which rather regularly freezes up. Last time was a recent Wednesday, ergo a busy time with all those crossed-fingered folk queueing up to buy their mid-week tickets. This time, instead of just a short hiccup, it sat there in frozen silence for five hours.

"I did all the usual checks and then rang the helpline," Mr Anon told me (he is afraid of saying anything that may make Camelot decide to take his terminal away I get more anonymous calls from lottery retailers than all the rest put together). "They said they could send an engineer, but if it turns out to be my fault they will charge me £195 + VAT. Who will decide if it is my fault?"

In the end he cancelled the visit when the machine sprang back to life.

I put his question to Camelot and a spokesman said that there was a free maintenance service. "We have a hotline and go through a trouble-shooting process. If it can't be solved over the phone an engineer can attend and 99% of the time there will be no charge."

The charge, which goes to the engineers and not Camelot, would only be applied if the retailer had done something he ought not to have done, such as moving the terminal or spilling his coffee over it.

I have suggested that my caller keeps reporting any freeze-ups to Camelot if he complains enough then the terminal may be changed and that may solve the problem.

l I have just enough room here to correct some duff advice I gave out recently. Retailers who were able to get scratchcards as a sort of halfway house to getting a terminal can no longer do so. That door has closed. Those who already had scratchcards were upgraded late last year/early this year with new full-blown terminals.