Lynn Thurston had her patience tested when Camelot sent a young girl into her store, Gemco in Braintree, Essex, to buy a lottery ticket. She was 16, so old enough.

“My staff member is devastated that she failed,” says Lynn, who points out that she would have served the girl herself because she looked 16. Staff member has six years’ experience and all the staff have been trained to challenge if the shopper looks underage. Not good enough for Camelot, though.

In 10 years of selling tickets this was the first time Gemco failed.

I asked Camelot what its reasoning was in using only legally aged test purchasers and a spokesperson replied: “Our mystery test shopping programme, ‘Operation Child’, has been running for more than 17 years and involves visits carried out by young people who are over 16 but who we reasonably expect to be challenged for ID. It is illegal to sell National Lottery products to anyone under 16. As we are not a law enforcement body, we are not allowed to use young people who are under 16 to carry out our mystery test shopping programme.”

And she added: “Retailers who sell to our test shoppers on three separate occasions may have their terminal removed.”

Lynn observed that customers get very agitated when asked for ID and I agreed that the younger the customer, the more ticked off they will be. I also agree that the 16-year-olds used should look a bit younger. It’s tough enough for anyone to judge ages. This is why many retailers use Challenge 21 (and even 25) for alcohol sales.