The following is a message that Mick Pinder sent from his Overton Corner Shop to Imperial Tobacco.

“Hi, I have not had a rep call for about two years, although I have left messages on two different mobile numbers for a return call. I have a quantity of damaged stock to a retail value of £243.87. Please can you ask a rep to call and uplift the stock, or for you to credit my Booker account – I will return the stock – or for a cheque to cover the costs.”

He was not impressed with the response, which was an email telling him to contact the sales office. He would have preferred someone contacting him.

I asked how the stock got damaged (expecting the worst), but it is apparently quite standard. He says: “We get cigarettes delivered from either Booker (CTM) or P&H. Due to the volumes concerned, and the fragile packaging, it is inevitable that some packs in each delivery will get a corner crunched, or a dent. Historically, the rep would call to replace them every 6-8 weeks.

“As we haven’t seen an Imperial rep for about two years, we have quite a collection of their stock. JTI and Phillip Morris reps call regularly and replace their damages. They also get rid of poor-selling lines, making sure that we have the best range available.

“We have a JTI gantry, so I suspect that Imperial don’t call as they have very little chance of influencing their product position.”

When last I heard, Mick was making some progress.