What do you get when you put PayZone, BT and Alliance & Leicester together? In many cases, I'm sure, you get a good, multi-tasking machine.
Not in Sally Stringer's case, though. She has a PayZone terminal at her store in Beckford, Worcestershire, and, as she puts it: "I'm at my wit's end. I've spent all morning on the phone to Alphyra (owner of PayZone). Since May there have been nine or 10 times when the machine refuses to do Chip and PIN transactions. It just comes up on
the screen with a 'no can do' message."
One of the main problems seems to be the shifting of blame, with none of the three companies willing to take the responsibility when the system had clearly gone badly wrong.
"A&L will blame BT," says Sally, "PayZone will blame A&L, and BT will blame the other two. They blamed the floods at one point," she adds, "even though we were having a hot spell at the time."
The machine is crucial to her business as it does cashback, all debit and credit cards and mobile top-ups. She has thought of alternatives but says Streamline is expensive compared with A&L, and PayPoint won't offer its services because her transaction level on mobile top-ups is not high enough.
However, the good news: it would appear that somebody somewhere got their finger out when Sally threatened them "with the press". I'd like to claim credit but, because I was on answerphone when Sally first rang, she decided to invoke the nationals instead.
"I gave them an ultimatum and it worked."