I know many retailers are on the lookout for a simple way to sort the books because in September 2004 I featured IOW retailer Graham Sutcliffe’s plea for help in this department. Over the next three months I wrote up at least six retailers’ recommendations for accountancy packages.

Ex-retailer Peter Levene wrote to me from Brighton, hailing himself as “Back from the Dead!” He had sold the last of his Clear ’n’ easy accounts books almost five years ago but they are now back – in response to ‘great consumer demand’ as they say in the grocery market, in this case the consumers being you, dear readers.
The traders’ yearly accounts book is designed for anyone in the retail trade where a multitude of items are rung up. Peter says that even the quarterly VAT returns can be done in minutes. The book also includes a calendar for the next financial year and a takings graph that you can fill in to see how you are doing.

He also offers a personal expenses spreadsheet that can be used by anyone who has Excel, which can be easily modified to suit your circumstances and show you where all your money is going.

The price for the accounts book is £7.25 plus £2.45 post and packing. The spreadsheet is the same but has no postal charge as it is sent as an email attachment. 

Take a look at his website, www.clearn-easy.org.uk, to see his special offers plus a link to the Ebay auction site. Jac writes: this retailer had pictured some fine profits from his mini photo booth.

But it was not to be. Mohammed Rafi refurbished his post office at Winchwen in Swansea last June and invested £6,000 in a mini ID photo booth supplied by Snap Digital Imaging. The lease was arranged through Bank of Scotland.

Mohammed says he had problems from the start. “They couldn’t get the software settings right. Sometimes the photos were too pale or too dark. The passport office rejected some of them and we had to give refunds. After a few months the flat touchscreen kept freezing.”

He reported the problems frequently to the helpline and an engineer reported that dreaded ‘intermittent fault’. He was shown how to reset the screen. But when it froze this entailed switching the machine off and on again, so it was not ideal. He began to film each fault on camera and reported it to the manufacturer and the Bank of Scotland. He had several visits from the manufacturer – the machine is under warranty until June – and the touchscreen was replaced, the booth was upgraded and, finally, in January, a senior supervisor came to call. The supervisor saw the video evidence and, according to Mohammed, suggested a new machine could be on the cards.

By this time, though, Mohammed had had enough and requested a full refund. This has not proved possible.

The engineer officially reported that the machine had worked perfectly for the week prior to his visit – although on March 6 when I last spoke to Mohammed the machine had been frozen for the whole day.

I spoke to Snap Digital Imaging and the commercial director said he believed the company had “bent over backwards” to help. He also said he knew of no other installation that had experienced such issues.

Mohammed believes that most people with mini-labs lease them with full maintenance so they have no worries. He believes that he had a verbal agreement that the video footage showed ongoing problems but that the company will not put it in writing. The machine, of course, no longer belongs to Snap and it is the Bank of Scotland that is liable for the faulty goods.

This may go legal and if it does I hope to bring you the conclusion.