Here’s a rule: if you need a service of some sort, go and source a supplier; don’t succumb to a cold caller. It may not work out perfectly, but it’s still a better option. And check out the reviews as well.

Dinesh Amin rang from One Hour Photo and Newsagent (guess my specialities, he said) in Corringham, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. Business rates consultants SJ Associates from Greater Manchester, had cold called and said ‘we can save you a lot of money’. He gave them a cheque for £900.

“Their website came across as quite professional,” he says. His son took a different view after reading some online reviews. So Dinesh cancelled the cheque after checking with the Valuation Office Agency (and discovered that no work had been done on his behalf). Barclays approved his actions.

SJ Associates is now threatening to sue him for £1,300. He told them he was willing to pay if they made good their promises. Otherwise he would see them in court. He’s still waiting.