Sriharan Rajan's luck ran out when a punter came in to his Premier store in West Molesey, Surrey, for payouts on three lottery tickets. "Two were winners," he says, after validating them through the terminal, "but the third ticket produced a blank screen."

He gave the ticket back to the customer. Ten minutes later, when he went to process the next customer's ticket, the previous customer's third ticket pops up validated. It was worth £40, which Sriharan set aside. When the first customer returned Sriharan gave him the £40 with apologies.

However, customer's friend did not think this was good enough, accused Sriharan of lying and said he would complain to Camelot, which he duly did. This triggered an investigation and Sriharan had his terminal removed.

He told me and Camelot that after the lottery operator switched from BT to satellite, the terminal's screen would sometimes go blank. He hired a solicitor to appeal. In fact, he spent about £2,500 on legal fees attempting to get his terminal back.

The solicitor made some very good points: that the punitive action (termination) is disproportionate (he was eight years an agent, no complaints); the error was corrected as quickly as possible; and 40 quid is a trivial sum that the retailer would not have jeopardised his reputation for.

But to no avail. Camelot told me: "We can confirm that, following the suspension of a National Lottery retailer in the West Molesey area and subsequent internal investigation, we have now removed the outlet's National Lottery terminal. Payment of prizes is a straightforward matter full instructions, including the exact amount to be paid, are displayed on the terminal screen for the retailer to follow. Our investigation found no evidence of terminal malfunction or loss of satellite signal and therefore no reason why the prize in question should not have been paid."