Albany Catering - a company that is really out there, having put some 1,200 machines into stores in the past two years - has come in for a bashing from two retailers lately.

Ravinder Kapur contacted me at Easter, claiming he had been contacted again and again at his store, Super Candy Newsagents in Southall, Middlesex, by the company.

He resisted their sales pitch, thinking fine for summer, but what about the rest of the year? But then a visiting rep told him that his payments could be frozen over the winter. This did not turn out to be the case and Ravinder found himself stuck with a five-year lease at £70 a month.

When I contacted Albany the company told me that it, along with its finance company, goes through three verification calls after the agreement is signed. Ravinder refutes this utterly and says no one offered him an opt-out. He is turning down Albany's regular telesales offers of more stock.

Ah, those telesales calls. This brings me to Martin Billingham, who runs John Oliver's Store in Durham. He first contacted me last November, having read my reportage on Alison Shrimpton's marathon to get shot of Albany's nuisance calls. At the time Albany Catering told me that it had a method of automatically blocking frequent telesales calls if anyone should object. Well, Martin has been objecting ever since.

He has long been registered with the Telephone Preference Service and Fax Preference Service to block unwanted calls, but this did not stop Albany. In the intervening months Martin has rung me half-a-dozen times with updates and has had dozens of calls from Albany. In fact, it has turned into a sort of hilarious Carry on Catering.

A rep, called Paul Fox, eventually paid Martin a visit. "We had a frank and full discussion," says Martin. And the rep apparently took away a copy of my column recounting Alison's experience and said that he would present it at a sales meeting the following day.

Over the following days Martin got three more calls offering rep's visits. He has thought about referring the company to the Direct Marketing Association (which regulates compliance with the Telephone Preference Service) but has since decided to give the company enough rope to hang itself
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He now says yes to all calls from Albany offering appointments for reps to visit.

"I think they'll get fed up with it quicker than me now," says Martin. "I've gone from irritated and annoyed, to where I'm quite enjoying it!"

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