One of the unexpected perks for me in this job is learning to read back to front, as it were. So many of you communicate via email these days that I occasionally think about dusting my landline phone. But it also frequently means that I am copied in on a lengthy email trail of communication.

For example, I got an email rant about Payzone from Iain Lyall, Glan Conwy General Stores, which I managed to edit down to seven pages before printing (apologies to the environment) so I could read it and understand it, from the bottom up.

Iain was taking Payzone to task for reducing his commission at short notice. He wrote to the company: “Reducing commission and gross profit by 33% with only a week’s notice is totally unacceptable when you expect six months’ notice on my part to terminate the contract.”

He wasn’t the only one to complain in the past month I have had three others plus a couple ‘in passing’ who had other, far greater, problems with other companies.

Jane Park wrote: “I couldn’t believe they were allowed to reduce commission at the drop of a generic letter through the post.”

A long-running wrangle ensued, involving low-transaction rates (Jane stopped doing transactions as her contract only stipulated that the machine had to be switched on) and a further fight over the disconnection charge, which in her case was £175.

Gerald Campbell, Sherborne Road Stores, Basingstoke, had a moan about his ‘pink machine’. He can’t find his contract and queried the £250 + VAT for cancellation/pick up. “Am I being miserly by thinking that’s a bit much?” he asks.

All I can say to that is I have seen far worse, reaching into the thousands from some companies.

Finally, I had a letter from Karen Hateley, Village Convenience in Burnley, over her dispute with Payzone over poor commission rates. She faced one year’s written notice of cancellation (during which time she would still have to pay a regular £10 low-volume charge) or a £300 charge for earlier termination (which I think puts her in the same category of cancellation charges as Gerald).

So yet another reminder: do have a look at the contract before you sign. How long is it for? What are the cancellation penalties?

” Yet another reminder: do have a look at the contract before you sign. How long is it for? What are the cancellation penalties? “