Jonathan James, who runs five petrol c-store sites in Cambridgeshire, wants to vent his frustration with a monopolistic supplier who took far too long to supply. Jonathan opened a new site recently in Littleport and contacted Smiths News for supplies (it supplies all his outlets). He sent the required deposit of £1,654 on November 3 and it was cashed on November 10. By mid-December he still didn't have any supplies and was tearing his hair out.

"Two days after we opened a new Co-op also opened up 100 yards away and immediately got supplies. The van goes straight past my store having delivered to my Ely store (some six miles away) to get to the Co-op."

He felt that the big chain was getting preferential treatment, but Smiths News refutes this although readily admitted to an admin screw-up relating to the wrong postcode.

A spokesman said: "Smiths News apologises for any inconvenience caused to Mr James. We have been in contact with Mr James to discuss his concerns and have agreed to send a territory manager to see him in the new year. We would also like to confirm that his supplies of newspapers and magazines began on December 16."

Jonathan added praise for John Lennon, managing director of the Association of News Retailing. "It got sorted instantly after his intervention," he says.

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