Not all ratings stories are as light-hearted as the one above.

The fine print of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December revealed that businesses face losing up to five years of refunds on their business rates due to a fast-approaching deadline for appeals of April 1, 2015. Could make April fools of some less rates-aware retailers.

Real estate advisors Colliers International spelled it out for me. John Webber, head of rating at the company, said: “Despite having extended the time period for the revaluation of businesses on the ratings list from five to seven years (extended to 2017) they haven’t extended the period where businesses are entitled to appeal.

“This means that while businesses will still be able to appeal between April 2015 and 2017, any refunds or savings will only be backdated to April 2015, meaning that businesses could lose out on five years’ worth of rebates.”

He calls the lack of notice “scandalous” and worries that the deadline will cause panic –  with cowboys in the industry persuading clients to appeal en masse to the Valuation Office without due diligence, which could result in an increase in rates liability, ironically, also dating back five years (if you appeal, the VO could decide either way).

Like I always say, if you want help to appeal, go to someone trustworthy like Ken Batty in Preston, or ring the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for a referral to someone without a stetson. Ken is on 01772 558333 and RICS’ number is 0870 333 1600 (they will give you a free half-hour on the phone).

And get a move on.