Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Sting in the Tail on Debit Cards (Barrel-Dregs 279)

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We ran an article about a change in the EU regulations on Debit Cards, they have been a lucrative rip off for some Card Companies for a long time, in some cases costing licensed businesses up to a thousand pounds a year, one that we talked to several thousands, naively assuming that being a customer for seven years, he would be advised of any changes.

Not on your life, it’s more profit for them, the General Manager, in this case, was too busy taking money to check whether he was being ripped off, until the figures were checked, he could employ another barman on the difference.

They had also pushed up the Credit Card percentage, to add insult to injury.

The situation now is credit card rates as a guide run from 1.09% – 2.04%

Debit Card rates as a guide run from 0.35% – 1.09% depending on your company.

They are sadly like Energy Companies, you need to negotiate every year or two years depending on your contract.

Banks used to be squeaky clean, now the real dirty tricks are coming out in the press, whatever we think we know, it is nothing compared to modern day banking rip offs.

If we all had the bottom rate on Debit cards for low cost purchases, it is more net profit.

You also need to know when it is more profitable to take a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card or vice versa.

If you contact USE at we will get someone to give you a call or give Mike a call below to get more details

Reduce your Debit Card processing charges by up to 50% per transaction!!

Debit Card processing charges from 0.35% per transaction.

This means that costs for a £10 – £30 transactions cost from 3.5p to 10.5p per transaction.

For your Free Audit versus your current provider , please contact Mike Crawshaw at Spiral quoting ‘Use Number One’

Mike Crawshaw | Consultant | M: 07450 574299

Private Medical Insurance (PMI)

How Private Medical Insurance works

Why choose private medical insurance (PMI)?

PMI is a good idea if you’re looking to skip the waiting lists.

The UK is one of the few countries in the world that has a universal free health service. Why would anyone choose to pay privately for medical care? According to a Bupa survey, the main reasons for going private were the fear of superbugs such as MRSA and hospital cleanliness, and a desire to avoid long waiting lists.

Private medical insurance (PMI) allows you to avoid NHS waiting lists and receive fast-track consultations and private treatment for short-term, curable medical problems. You are treated privately in an NHS hospital or in a private hospital. PMI doesn’t cover every medical eventuality, however, so it’s important to check your policy details.

PMI is not essential, however, if you have disposable income and all your finances are in order, then PMI could be for you if you feel it will give you peace of mind.

What does health insurance cover?

Standard PMI plans cover essential treatments, including surgery, consultations, nursing and hospital care, but exclude treatment for drug addiction and incurable conditions. Comprehensive policies offer additional benefits, ranging from complementary medicine to personal accident cover.

There are two types of plan, known as fully underwritten and moratorium. Fully underwritten policies require you to disclose your full medical history to establish what will and won’t be covered. Moratoriums simply impose blanket exclusions on pre-existing conditions going back a set number of years.

Moratoriums are usually cheaper, but watch out – any disorder that subsequently surfaces won’t be covered if an examination shows it arose during the moratorium period.


The main things to consider are:

  • PMI doesn’t replace all NHS services – for example, accident and emergency    treatments aren’t covered.
  • With very serious illnesses, you will not necessarily receive treatment more quickly with PMI than you would under the NHS.
  • You won’t have unconstrained choice over where you are treated or by whom. When you buy a policy, you will typically choose a hospital list, denoting the selection of hospitals and treatment centres in which you will be entitled to cover. The broader the selection, the higher your premium. But insurers also impose schedules of fees setting out the maximum amounts they will pay specialists for a given procedure. So if you have chosen, or require, a specialist whose charges exceed the schedule maximum, then it will be up to you to make up the shortfall. Some insurers will have networks of ‘recognised’ consultants who, by pre-agreement, won’t charge more than the schedule fees.

You won’t always get treatment in a private hospital. You may be put in a private patient unit within an NHS hospital. You could also end up on an NHS ward rather than in a private room.

How much does PMI cost?

Premiums vary, depending on the level of cover you buy, your age, state of health and whether or not you smoke.

Your premiums are likely to increase each year to keep pace with medical costs and because the risk of illness increases with age. You may be entitled to a discount if you are able to pay the whole annual premium upfront, and if you agree to pay an excess fee on any claims.

Many policies also include a no-claims bonus, which rewards you for staying in good health. This feature should not dissuade you from getting suspected problems checked out, so avoid policies that threaten to remove a bonus merely for visiting your doctor.

Consider the following before taking out PMI

  • Consider your finances
  • Pay off any debts and build up a cash fund to deal with unforeseen emergencies
  • If you have dependants, make sure you have enough life insurance
  • Make sure your income is protected if you are unable to work
  • Make sure you have some form of private or workplace pension in place


PMI may not be as expensive as you think

Get a Free quote – call Matt Evans at Tailored Wealth Financial Management         01626 777934

If you would also like to discuss life insurance, protecting your income or pensions, please feel free to contact us on this number

A warning to people giving up leases/tenancies (Barrel-Dregs 279)

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A warning to people giving up leases/tenancies (Barrel-Dregs 279)

A tale of woe and frustration for a departing Marstons Tenant

We have been contacted by a lady licensee who ran a very good pub for Marston’s for 5½ years. She decided to hand the tenancy back, for personal reasons.

She came to us for advice and we suggested that she should use both a solicitor and valuer of her choice to ensure everything was squeaky clean. The cost would have been collectively around £2K or less, by shopping around it could come to around £1.25K.

Marston’s Retail Field Staff, BDM Julian Mobbs, Area Manager Sarah Adams said they would handle everything, it was only the hand back of the lease. Their retained valuers (Platts) fees would be split, possibly £500 total cost.

The tenant was told that she really didn’t need the services of a solicitor or valuer, it was saving a reasonable amount of money and a lot of inconvenience.

Sounds ideal, she gets a letter confirming that payment of the final settlement monies would be in 28 days after completion with a comment about VAT registration.

The new tenant took over, 28 days came and went – no money. We consulted a solicitor and he said Marston’s are not under any obligation to pay at 28 days, it not being a legally enforceable contract, only ‘an understanding’ to pay.

Two weeks after the 28 days, still no money. We lodged a complaint with the Pub Governing Body (PGB), that this was unacceptable practice, though officially legal and within the letter of the law – just!

It then transpires this is almost standard procedure with a number of major Pub Co’s. You may have been a good slave to the Pub Co during your time, but you have no value now and are totally expendable

The Pub Co has sold on your tenancy/lease, received all the monies and still retains (in the case of this lady) possibly £45K of her money. It’s better in their bank than hers.

The bank is giving this ex tenant a hard time. This is because the promised money has not appeared and she is paying 18.4% interest (Standard Rate for Joe Public), the VAT has not been paid and she can do nothing.

After, we and the lessee lodged a complaint with the PGB, some payment eventually arrives, she bends the BDM’s ear and achieves nothing, tries again with the Area Manager, who offers a take it or leave it deal to waive their share of the Valuers fees a sum of £500.00, a derisory offer for the inconvenience and costs involved.

“Half the valuer’s fees £500.00”. They had a quote for £750.00 in total. We fail to understand why Marston’s are purported to be paying their tame valuer £1K for every valuation. Pub Co’s are well known for getting the best discount for any form of contract. It is thought that the Valuer’s fee is more likely to be £500 in total.

I get a phone call from the CEO of the BII (Tim Hulme) on behalf of the Pub Governing Body, which we assume he is a key member. (Tuesday 29th May)

He agrees with me, that it is unacceptable practice and they have had a number of complaints about similar activities by a number of Pub Co’s.

I agreed that taking this sort of complaint to PICAS, should not be necessary, a well placed word in the ear of a senior member of the offending Pub Co, should produce a mutually acceptable solution.

With the obvious alternative of taking the Pub Co to PICAS and all the resulting costs and compensation. The larger Pub Co’s are supposedly avoiding PICAS like the plague, the decisions have been somewhat costly for them.

The CEO of the BII told me that the Chairman of PICAS, RICS member Rodger Vickers would handle this and sort it out – I naively assumed on the basis that we had discussed, being a robust phone call to Marston’s.

I get a phone call from the ex tenant (29th May) saying that Rodger Vickers FRICS, has sent an email explaining that they could go to PICAS at a cost of £200 and take the consequencies, regarding the £500 offered it was strictly down to her, whether she took it or not. Basically, ‘take it or leave it’. It would appear that no personal telephone contact was made, probably to ensure Rodger Vickers’ independence of process.

The email below from Rodger Vickers is in italics and what he said is strictly correct. The ex tenant is totally fed up, hoping as we did that some degree of practical sense would prevail and an amicable solution could be found. Not a sledge hammer to crack a nut, that could take six months and more money, to resolve a bit of dubious practice against a wealthy Pub Co with a battery of high class legal advice.

“From what you say the delay in payment if made after the deadline stated in the Code of Practice is a matter for PICA-Service. The issue as to whether you should accept the £500 compensation on offer is one for you though I’m afraid. If the PICA-Service panel find for you in a Hearing you would recover the £200 PICA-Service registration fee. You would also be asked whether you wish to place before the PICA-Service panel a claim for the costs you incurred in making the complaint (e.g. preparation time, transport costs etc). The PICA-Service panel have the power to make monetary Awards to cover their perception of the landlord Company’s wrongdoing where appropriate and this may include, should they believe these to be relevant, loss of earnings, the tenant’s reasonable and relevant costs, the costs of PICA-Service and, again where regarded by them as being relevant, interest, but shall not include what the Panel consider to be consequential losses of an indirect nature or any element of legal costs. The word ‘penalty’ does not appear in the PICA-Service procedure paper but is a matter the panel may discuss under the heading of the ‘landlord Company’s wrongdoing.’ The matter as to whether you would be best advised to progress a claim is therefore dependent firstly on what the breach has cost you in financial terms and secondly on the strength of your feelings that the Pub Co/Brewery should be taken to task”.

Having read the above, it is not the practical, no nonsense solution that the CEO of the BII and I discussed. I was given, the distinct impression that Rodger Vickers would ring Marston’s and achieve something – not to be!

Some of us want to clean up the industry as amicably as possible, not incur vastly expensive costs in litigation, when someone is obviously the injured party.

Marston’s clearly owed a genuine duty of care, both during and after the departure of their lessee. This did not happen in the payment of monies owed. This is contrary to the spirit – if not the letter of the law – contained in their Code of Practice and the Industry Framework Code – both of which have been quietly ignored. Not good enough!

Possible Solutions? Not easy as, in a practical sense, a binding letter should be signed by the Brewer/Pubco specifying the maximum time for payment of monies owed, i.e. 7 days and no more. This letter or email would then form a binding understanding, actionable in law if not honoured, or specific penalties for breaches.

The second option, which rests with the Pub Governing Body and PICAS.

If a Pub Co or Licensee (It has to apply to both landlord and tenant) breach the Code of Practice within the Industry Framework Code on a range of issues, that taking them to PICAS or PIRRS is a time consuming costly exercise for something such as the above.

There should be people across the country with the authority of the PGB or PICAS to contact the offending party and discuss the abuse and arrive at a practical solution, rather than waste a number of peoples time in going to PICAS etc., if they do not agree, the option is to take it to PICAS.

In this case a number of Pub Co’s are guilty of this same abuse and from the CEO of the BII, relatively common practice.

Should the offender have been guilty of two similar recorded abuses a fine of £5K should be made, £1K should go to the PGB/PICAS to fund the costs of investigating and resolving this and other issues. The remainder plus any agreed financial loss to the offended party, the chances of a licensee doing the same thing twice are remote, but large companies exploit situations where small people cannot afford the time or money to contest an issue.

I would suggest that the PGB or possibly PICAS have a contact list of senior people in Pub Co’s, with the authority to take immediate remedial action to rectify the abuse.

In the case above, Marstons know that they can do the same again with no come back, a departing tenant is not going to go to PICAS, they just want to get out of their tenancy or lease.

If you agree with our thoughts, please send a copy of this article to PICAS at, if we all do it, they might implement a system blocking this and other loopholes.

Everyone with a lease or tenancy could, be put in this situation at the conclusion or even assigning a lease to a greater or lesser degree.

Potboy South

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.






The Pubs Advisory Service are announcing five MRO road show dates during which the forthcoming Market Rent Only option will be explained to licensees, brewers and other interested parties.

The road shows will take place throughout June with dates in London, Liverpool, York, Leicester and Exeter and will be hosted by the MRO Advisory team: Chris Wright, Simon Clarke and Dave Mountford.

The events will cover :

1. The history of MRO – how it came about.

2. MRO today – how the current legislation is being structured – the Pub Code, the role of the adjudicator and the legal position.

3. MRO and beyond – how tenants can get the most from MRO as it comes into force.

Dave Mountford said – “We felt it was vital that stakeholders in the trade have a role in formulating the legislation now the campaigning was over – An MRO Advisory Service (MROAS) under the Pubs Advisory Service seemed to be the perfect vehicle. As we are going to be right on top of the unfolding legislation, the MROAS can provide tenants and brewers with immediate and up to date information, context and feedback. Additionally as first groups of tenants start to go through the MRO process or get presented with details from their various pub companies we can relay their experiences directly to BIS officials so that the process can be properly reviewed”

Chris Wright who set up PAS following recommendations from the Government and is the PAS team leader said “ MRO is the biggest event to hit the trade since the beer orders, there is growing interest and excitement from right across the trade as people realise there is going to be a new “tool” in the box. Granted the situation is still very fluid and the ink hasn’t dried on how to wield it but there is no better time to step up and look to maximise the business opportunity. This industry is famed for collaboration and likewise we are looking to join up with as many tenants, brewers and trade associations in shaping the future success of the trade.”

The Details of the Road Shows are as follows:

London 1st June @ The Underbelly, 11 Hoxton Square N1 6NU (10.30am for 11am start)

York 8th June @ Volunteers Arms, 5 Watson Street, York, YO24 4BH (10.30am for 11am start)

Liverpool 9th June @ Fly in the Loaf, Hardman Street, Liverpool, L1 9AS (2.30pm for 3pm start)

Exeter 17th June @ Oddfellows Bar, 60 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP (2.30pm for 3pm start)

Leicester 24th June @ Firebug, 1 Millstone Lane, Leicester, LE1 5JN (10.30am for 11am start)

For more information and tickets please visit

0203 6513351


Taking a Pub Lease with clauses that can only end in Tears, (Barrel Dregs 278)

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 Taking a Pub Lease with clauses that can only end in Tears, (Barrel Dregs 278)

Please note, access to this site is totally free if you would like to subscribe (No Charge) on, they are free to be read for your guidance and aimed to help you get through a time of considerable pressure and demand.

Barrel-Dregs has been run for many years, we change all the identifiable details, but give you an insight as to many of the sharp or bad practices by a number of companies, in most cases they are just legal but morally unacceptable.

We have a number of Pub owning companies that we will not recommend, their actions have featured in Barrel-Dregs too many times, we did hope that by highlighting their antics they might change, but in Barrel-Dregs terms “Leopards do not change their spots, they cover them with more Mud.”

Pot Boy was chatting to his mate in his local, which is nice little local Brewers Tenancy, good beer and no hassle.

The pub up the road had changed hands just over a month ago, being a Pub Co Lease it had been a nightmare, nice guy had the lease and no real match for the Pub Co’s wily tricks.

The incumbent had been in bending my mates ear over a pint of genuine local real ale, the whole village knew he had been trying to sell the lease, very unsuccessfully, finally in desperation he had approached the Pub Co to take the lease back.

He had mistakenly believed that selling a lease was a straightforward transaction between a buyer and seller, not on your sweet life.

He scanned the Internet for information at the first hurdle, absolutely, the next best thing to nothing, a number of comments, read and fully understand your lease.

He like too many lessees had relied on his solicitors words of wisdom, sadly his eagerness to buy a pub blocked out the solicitors words of wisdom and advice, and now he had hit the wall.

The first thing that hit him was the Guarantee Agreement, what was he guaranteeing?

A quick check told him, that he was responsible for whoever took over his lease for the whole of the time that they were there for the remainder of the lease.

If the assignee went bust or had a shortfall, he would be responsible for all his Pub Co debts for openers.

What about his deposit? That should take care of any of his tied purchase owings, well it might do, chuck in unpaid rent, if the new guy does a runner then the Pub Co dirty tricks brigade step in, these guys are experts, all perfectly legal, but morally unacceptable, they step  in anyway, the BDM is a waste of space.

Nearly forgot, the premises have to be left with enough equipment to trade, what happens if he’s flogged all the Fixture & Fittings before he vanished, another £30K goes on the bill.

Then we get to dilapidations, did the departing incumbent have a survey, well it all looked immaculate with new paint when he took it over, the BDM a really nice guy, said he didn’t need a survey the Pub Co do it at every change, well it really looked fantastic, it saved him a load of dosh.

The BDM moved to another company a few months later and no record of any survey.

The incumbent is well up S… Creek with no paddle.

A friendly surveyor customer points out that a large amount of the dilapidations are historic, now that the shiny white paint has lost its lustre, but he’ll still be faced with a battle, the Pub Co dirty tricks crew will have another field day, no original survey he’s just lost another paddle.

The saga rolls on, what are the options, he could take a chance and buy himself out of the Guarantee Agreement, the Pub Co’s have this well taped, usually starts at around £7K plus, the deposit is vanishing like dew on the grass, when the sun comes out.

The figure for the F & F was £25K, it should be nearer £45K, no chance, a thumb in the air valuation by a local valuer, could cost as much as £1.5K for a proper job, but it will still come out at £25K, these guys know that this is the second hand value of used pub F & F, on a bad day it could be £10K.

The bull from the commercial agents of thousand of buyers clutching wads of money in their hot little hands, is sheer fantasy, most need fantastic figures and are only buying leases because they can’t afford freeholds, in addition Banks have gone right off  providing money for pubs, they only want safe bets with loads of assets, not leases with clauses that only go one way.

My mates ex licensee after a number of pints, finally said after he realised that by assigning the lease may or could cost him a fortune through no fault of his own, with no control whatsoever on the situation or he succumbed to the blood rate of getting out of the Guarantee Agreement, leaving him with a substantially reduced return on a numer of years swetted blood, he would go cap in hand to the Pub Co.

His first point of contact was the numpty BDM, a serious waste of space, hotly pursued by his area manager.

Who came in all smiles, poofy after shave and clammy handshakes, “Delighted to take the lease back, rather than grant a new lease, no problem, I,ll get all the details to you”.

The BDM duly appeared with some details on the back of a fag packet.

Their Valuer will asess the F & F, if you accept his figure, you’ll have to pay half his costs anyway and save instructing your own valuer, which could cost you £1.5K.

He already knew the rough figure was £25K, yet the new equipment, furniture, soft furnishings was actually worth £45K at the very least, what to do.

A word with another chastened ex Pub Co lessee, you’re screwed which ever option you take, if you assign the lease, you have to have good figures, good F & F and a workable rent. You might get £10K more, but you have the Guarantee Agreement to live with for the rest of the lease or the time that your assignee has the lease.

Or you take the Pub Co offer and get screwed now rather than later.

He had thought about renewing the fifteen year lease, no chance with the Market Rent Option MRO, every Pub Co were sitting on their hands, with every excuse under the sun, you can’t sell a lease that has expired without a new one.

You may be able to legally, but if the big Corporate lawyer is playing hard ball, you are going nowhere and your buyer is gone.

The deal from the Pub Co, take it or leave, don’t forget the dilapidations, they have no record of any agreed survey and the BDM is no longer with them, open season on dilaps, think of a number and double it.

A quick word in his ear from my mate, to contact all the lessees who took pubs at around the same time as him, in the departed BDM’s patch, all those that didn’t have a survey were all told the same tale, the Pub Co did a survey at every change.

The dilapidations dropped to some routine maintenance and a paint job, a salutary lesson for all, they’re not always that lucky.

It doesn’t end there, the £25K F & F valuation was knocked down by £2K, a letter saying that payment would be in 28 days and he had to deregister from VAT, before they would pay, needless to say VAT people don’t act that quickly and he’s still waiting for his money.

This dodge, the 28 days and VAT deregistration keeps millions in the Pub Co’s bank account.

Sadly you need a solicitor to ensure you get paid when you vacate.

To add insult to injury the new lessee had signed a lease at a slightly lower rent and paid up to £60K for the privilege, he had also paid up front.

Potboy Midlands

“The above is regrettably a true story but for reasons of confidentiality, and to avoid reprisals, no names of any of the participants have been revealed and the timeline has been adjusted slightly. This was also not a one off incident. To a greater or lesser degree, these self same events are being replicated on a daily basis nationwide.”

Please Note, we are not trying to discourage buying and selling of leases, we just want to discourage the legal Rip-Offs that go on, we firmly believe that those taking up a fair Market Rent Option, as it stands at present, could have leases worth serious money, though a number of Pub Co’s will fight tooth and nail to stop this improvement.

The knowledgeable people in the industry, feel that it is a step in the right direction to unify the industry.

We have produced a Check List for assigning a lease or handing back a lease, to make people streetwise and hopefully avoid the last minute expensive, exploitive pitfalls, which put decent people into the hands of the Landlords and their Lawyers.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.