Rano Patel, who runs Lifestyle Express on Kingston Hill in West London, reported £650-worth of 'missing' vouchers. The vouchers were for copies of The Times. As Rano says: "The customers pay in advance, so NI benefits, the customers get a good deal, so they benefit, and we get 1p handling charge for each coupon. It's hardly worth doing."
Yes, particularly if NI refuses to refund the vouchers. First of all, NI told her by letter that they had received the vouchers but, as she hadn't put a red sticker (news to her, this one) on the returns note as she apparently was supposed to, there would be no reimbursement.
Then NI changed its tune and said it never got the vouchers back in the first place. Whose fault was that? They're no ruddy use lying about in Rano's store. She asserts she had given them, as encouraged by NI, to the NI driver.
In a similar situation is Peter Clark, who runs The Chocolate Box in Hamstreet, just outside of Ashford in Kent. He is now missing three weeks-worth of vouchers worth £200, mainly for The Times and a few for The Sun. "NI paid out a couple, then stopped, then paid another couple, then stopped. The call centre just gives you a reference number and no one gets back to you," he says.
Peter's solution is to stop his standing order. "I'm going to tell my customers to ring NI about it."
Just as I finished this piece with Rano contemplating the small claims court News International agreed to credit the money.
She concludes: "After four weeks of battling with them I think they knew I would take them all the way to court if I had to as they had admitted to receiving the coupons once. But a hard lesson learnt: always send coupons recorded delivery."