Dharmendra (Dan) Patel, who runs Clifton News in Nottingham, sent me an email asking: “Have you ever heard of Camelot switching an online terminal off (for one week ) till the next D/D has been paid? This has happened to me today. I have paid the D/D that failed yesterday this afternoon in full today (24/11/16). Now I have to wait till next Thursday (1 Dec 16) for the terminal to be switched on. I have been a lottery retailer for more than 20 years - this is the first time I have come across this.”

He admits it was not a bank error that caused the direct debit to fail, it was down to him. And I admit I hadn’t heard that terminals would be switched off for a full week for a failed D/D. I asked Camelot whether it was customary.

This unfortunately happened on a Friday and by the time I picked up the out-of-office reply from my contact at Camelot and a phone number to ring, it was after going-home time for any head office. So it was Monday before I could pick up the threads. I gather it wouldn’t have made any difference, though.

My contact said: “Our policy for failed direct debits is that the terminal remains off until the next direct debit is collected successfully. So, as long as Mr Patel’s weekly invoice amount is/was collected successfully by direct debit today, the terminal should be reactivated tomorrow morning.”

Dan was resigned to his fate and said that worse things had been known to happen… but added that it was a great inconvenience for customers.