In early December I had one desperate Paresh Patel (Ministore, Epsom) on the phone, trying to get some credit due from Camelot. His direct debit failed by £40/£50 back in October. He was not notified, but when he discovered it from his next-day bank statement he immediately paid the £882.35 in ‘manually’. He then rang Camelot at least three times and was told each time by someone on the hotline that the credit department would be emailed. The money was taken on the week ending 17 October.

He got a letter from his bank verifying that the money had been paid to Camelot and he sent this, along with his own letter, to Camelot’s head office, but heard nothing. He says: “If the hotline can’t get through to credit, what chance do I have? Camelot isn’t penalising me, but they’re not crediting either.”

This sounded like an admin screw-up and the press office at Camelot is pretty efficient at pushing the right buttons. Paresh got his money back, but it took 12 weeks all told, which is a long time to wait for nearly £900.

And he makes a good point: “I couldn’t get away with treating my customers this way.”