Some people feel they have no place to go when dealing with monopolies. So it was heartening to hear from Leicester retailer Subhash Varambhia, trading as Snutch Newsagents, who decided that drastic action was called for after a year of Smiths News “constant tinkering” with his allocations, leaving him in short supply.
He says: “2011 was a nightmare. I was forced to ring every day to reset my figures. Just for one or two extras. How belittling. And within days of resetting, Smiths would tinker again. I went to the manager - useless the regional manager - waste of space and the chief exec who would simply pass the buck back to the manager. It was like snakes and ladders.”
By 2012 he decided enough was enough and started county court action citing clauses 4.16 and 4.5 of his agreement (Right to Management Newspaper Allocation).
Smiths had been quite heavy with him, telling him he would lose and it would be expensive. “It was a scary journey, but the trick is not to blink.”
And it worked, because Smiths settled out of court, paying him the costs he had totted up (£240) and his order is now set in stone.
“We shall fight them we shall never surrender,” he growls, doing a fair impression of Churchill.
But he stresses the serious point that the people at the top really ought to listen to the complaints and not just leave it up to some computer operator at the other end of the country who is clearly not following orders.