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Old 05-02-2006, 07:54 AM
kiwi steve kiwi steve is offline
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Default Best Bet John blames "security problem" for bouncing cheques

A TELEPHONE betting firm on Monday blamed a "security problem" after cheques recently sent to winning punters bounced.

Best Bet John, which advertises on Teletext and is linked to Essex-based bookmakers William Claridge, apologised to disgruntled customers and insisted payments will be honoured in full.

Among several clients to contactthe Racing Post, Thomas Lewis from Leyton, east London, was stunned to discover a 5,000 cheque he received following a successful golf bet had bounced, while a punter from Arbroath, believing cheques for 506 and 150 had cleared, now faces charges bank charges of 150 after learning his account had insufficient funds to meet five direct debit payments.

"It's absolutely disgusting," said Lewis on Monday. He is set to collect another 900 following Birmingham's relegation from the Premiership, and is threatening to call the police if the matter is not resolved to his satisfaction.

Jeff Stevens, area manager of both Best Bet John, which has nearly 4,000 customers, and William Claridge, a ten-shop chain, explained that in contrast to Switch, Solo and Maestro users, cheques have to be sent to punters betting through Electron, Visa and Delta facilities because the company's bankers will not permit winnings to be credited to account-holders using those three cards.

Stevens said: "We had a security problem, which we dealt with. As far as we're concerned all the cheques will now go through without any problems.

"William Claridge has been in business for 43 years, and we've never upset anyone and have no intention of upsetting anyone. We did have a problem, but it won't happen again, and we have spoken to most of the customers concerned and we said we would close their account if they were unhappy. Not one person has closed their account, and all we can do is apologise unreservedly."

Stevens would not say how many cheques bounced, but insisted it was "nowhere near" 60, the figure the Arbroath punter claimed to have been told were involved when he phoned the company to complain.

Stevens added: "We have told customers to represent the cheques, and if anybody has incurred bank charges as a result of what has happened, we will deal with them."
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