Jaykant Shah is one frustrated retailer. He has been in business for 27 years and contacted me for the first time last month. He has an Alliance & Leicester Chip and PIN terminal. He had been quite happy with the system until 2004 when A&L licensed its credit card business to euroConex. This was, however, purely a minor irritation because he could no longer negotiate terms and the charges went up. But then, last July, Jaykant suffered a machine breakdown at his store, News Wine Foodmarket in Old Woking, Surrey. He subsequently found that he had not been credited for a couple of transactions amounting to £119.81. He correctly reported this to euroConex which duly credited him with the money. But then, when the transactions appeared on the customer’s statement, the dates were out by a couple of months. The customer didn’t recognise the transactions so the cardholder’s issuing bank rejected them and euroConex then took the money back from Jaykant (what is known in merchant services as a ‘chargeback’). He went to considerable lengths to sort this out with euroConex. I have copies of letters, one of them detailing at least seven phone calls. He was asked to fax details and was further irked that the fax numbers he was given as connections were in Ireland and the United States, costing him even more money. In January euroConex wrote to him, and I quote: “This is to inform you that we are attempting a goodfaith collection for this chargeback. We attempt goodfaith for 60 to 90 days. If we receive a response from the issuer you will be notified. And if no response is received you will be notified of this as well.”

It could then be 10 months since the system first failed. The ‘goodfaith’ will presumably happen only if the customer agrees that the deals did take place once their memory has been jogged, although when you consider that the customer didn’t recognise it the first time around and that now it’s getting on for a year, one wonders at the practice in place.

A lot of this grief could have been ameliorated if euroConex had been better at communication. “There was no courtesy,” says Jaykant. “This should have been resolved a long time ago. I don’t have time to chase it all the time.”

He shouldn’t have to. I’ve spoken to euroConex, which confirms that chargebacks happen and good faith collections are attempted. The Chargeback Department I spoke to was, according to letters received by Jaykant, located in the City of London but clearly calls are then diverted, after a couple of clicks and a five-option menu, to a variety of Irish accents. I did ask on three occasions to be connected to the marketing office in Dublin and, obligingly, they tried. Three times I was cut off.