The couple who started the whole saga about VAT and telephone top-ups are Subhash and Rama Varambhia from Snutch Newsagents in Leicester.

Rama says she has now found a cheap solution. A company called Triton has offered her 5.5% on phonecard top-ups, no line rental and no VAT to pay.

The snag, she adds, is that Triton has asked for her bank details so it can run a credit check. She asked Triton to put something in writing but the company, which claims to be part of PayZone, told her that it didn't do 'frills' of any sort, which was how it kept its prices down.

Had I heard of Triton, she wondered? No, I hadn't, and I say that it 'claims' to be part of PayZone/Alphyra only because I can't prove it - although not for lack of trying.

I rang Triton and everything sounded dead right. The woman I spoke to said they had launched a campaign in March, offering a 'no-frills best-terms' deal. They take your application over the phone, your sort code and account number. "But we can't do anything with it until the customer signs the direct debit mandate. The customer is also protected by the Direct Debit Guarantee," she pointed out. When I asked for her head office number, she gave me Alphyra's number. I have rung lots of dodgy companies in the past and nothing in her responses put her in that category.

Alphyra's press office, an outside agency, did not know anything about Triton, but gave me the head office number. The very same. Trouble is, no one ever answers the phone. It goes straight through to music. Not even a "press one to push-off" selection of messages.

I visited Alphyra's website and although it mentions PayZone and phone top-up services, it does not mention Triton by name. I think Subhash and Rama are going to give it a go and will no doubt report back in good time.

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