Former Nisa member Bhavesh Parekh, who trades in Little Lever, Bolton, was handed a whopping bill when he left the group to join Spar. He was with Nisa for just under two years, but left last September after what he describes as nine months of poor availability, which cost him turnover losses of about £4,000 a week.

He was, he claims, a loyal Nisa member who supported all the promotions; he stocked 98% of Nisa’s Heritage range (subject to availability) and he bought more than 90% of his stock from Nisa. But deliveries were regularly late and availability “terrible”. Often only 60% of the order would turn up. It even got to the stage where Nisa was actively pushing him to go to a cash and carry to top up on cigarettes because of warehouse shortages. He had also maintained a lot of communication with Nisa management who promised things would get better, but they didn’t.

So he put in his resignation, in writing, “with immediate effect”.

“As soon as you give notice, you lose all benefits,” he says, “so I stopped trading with them immediately.”

The original leaving bill was £18,800, which he managed to negotiate down to £11,500 because, he argued, the signage was of poor quality and the epos hardware unused. He has been paying the remainder off in weekly instalments of £500 which, unsurprisingly, is killing his cash flow.

He says he was told that the actual exit fee was £7,700.

I asked Bhavesh if he was aware of this penalty when he signed up and he said: “No, I wasn’t aware. It was very informal - sign here. The contract was only available online. You don’t get a copy of the agreement.”

I put all this to Nisa and a spokesman responded. “Bhavesh did sign both a copy of the Nisa membership agreement and a fascia agreement on joining the group, which clearly identify the penalties for leaving without serving notice - these are a matter of record and the fees are in line with what was outlined at the time of joining.

“Nisa was able to help him in bringing down the cost of what was owed - if we look at the discount given on the signage and the offer to take back his IT kit, which Nisa did as goodwill, it wipes out the early termination figure and leaves just what was owed to Nisa by Bhavesh.

“Nisa also worked out a payment scheme for the amount owed, again as goodwill, which allows him to pay a manageable monthly sum rather than an upfront amount, to help ease any financial difficulties.”

I asked for clarification here because Bhavesh stressed that he had been a good member and always paid on time - if he had not and had been kicked out all he would have been liable for would have been the outstanding bill. So he felt he was being unjustly punished with a £7,700 bill.

Nisa replied: “The exit fee was essentially wiped clean with the discounting and buying back of his rapid system. He did, however, have outstanding costs relating to his fascia, which were outlined in the deal he signed and were also made clear when a payment structure was agreed upon with him.”

Bhavesh says the signage was a single piece of metallic vinyl wrap. The illumination never worked.

This is far from over.