It's 4.30pm, I am going to press in 30 minutes and until two minutes ago we thought we had what looked like a sensational story.
Asda, we had learnt, had written to its suppliers to tell them it was launching an optional 'Pay Me Early' scheme for suppliers, which would pay them upfront, "in exchange for an early payment discount". "The rate we are launching at," it added, "was 12%."
Suppliers were outraged. Several sent us copies of the letter. No self-respecting supplier would accept a 12% discount on an invoice unless it was desperate, near bankruptcy. It was an insult , they said. It amounted to usury, I wrote in this column .
I still couldn't believe the story was true, even at 2:30pm. So I asked the newsdesk to check it wasn't interest Asda was referring to. The press office confirmed it was a discount not once, but twice. Then at 4:30pm, they rang and told us there had been a misunderstanding. The 12% was a reference to the APR. It was a simple loan mechanism it was offering to suppliers. At 12%.
Don't get me wrong. For a company as large as Asda to be offering 12% APR to its suppliers is not exactly generous. The fact that supermarkets can sit on shoppers' cash for weeks before they have to pay suppliers - Asda's average terms are 60 days, but in some cases as long as 90, say some suppliers - has enabled cash-positive grocery retailers like Asda to roll out expansion plans without the need to borrow.
But there's a world of difference between a 12% discount on an invoice, and 12% APR on an innovative loan scheme. If not only suppliers but the PR department of a company like Asda aren't clear on the difference, even when quizzed extensively, there's something seriously awry with their communication.