This interesting little tale comes from Paul Henshaw, whose current Spar store trades in Meliden, near Prestatyn, North Wales. He used to own another store not far away at Bodelwyddan, and in 2001 a member of staff signed him up to a five-year leasing agreement with a hygiene services company which came and emptied the female hygiene bins for just a few quid a month.

He was happy with the deal but when he sold the store to Tates the chain didn’t want to take on any of Paul’s suppliers. Fair enough. He offered to swap the service to his store in Meliden as the lease had only another year to run. “We were just going to let the lease run out and then go with Spar’s preferred supplier, Initial,” says Paul. To his dismay, he then learned that the hygiene company rep had gone back to Tates and got an assistant manager to sign a new contract renewing the direct debit for Paul’s Spar business for another five years. It is, of course, a screw-up.

When I rang the company in question, a spokesman accepted that it made no sense and said no, it wasn’t policy to go after unsuspecting staff. In this case either the details were copied wrong or the rep may have been trying to sign the Tates store up for the service in its own right. “It’s not really for us to question whether the staff have the authority to sign,” he said. “Some might be insulted if we ask.”