It’s time I ran an update on the daily stress that Smiths News imposes on Bhavin Patel (Tylers Green Stores, North Weald, Essex). Readers with long memories will recall that this has been a regular event for a long time. Recently Bhavin has lodged five official Stage 2 Complaints and one Stage 3 Complaint against Smiths News. That might be a record. (If not, let me know.)

Here’s an example of the problem, in an email that he wrote to Smiths. “This morning I am owed credits for 56 titles (various quantities). For the second week in succession, Smiths News have failed to process the respective credits. More importantly, prior to the next invoice being generated.

“You will therefore be holding on to my money for an additional 10 days. Therefore, this can only be classed as daylight robbery and distortion of financial accounts.”

Bhavin told me that the excuses he is given for non-delivery of titles include running late and out of stock. He says: “As has been the case on a number of occasions, I have been able to verify by contacting other retailers around the UK that titles I am advised are running late are on sale on their respective due dates.

“Therefore, Smiths News have deliberately not only misled me, but my customers as well. There have been three occasions over the past few months where my customers have come back with a copy of the respective title on the same day which I had previously advised them was ‘running late’.”

As all newsagents will know, Bhavin is not the only one to suffer mistakes at the hands of their news wholesaler. But in what is already a shrinking market it’s difficult to understand why Smiths is making it even harder for the likes of Bhavin to sell their supplies.