We all know what it's like to receive a vital windfall in the run-up to Christmas, so spare a thought for a quarter of a million Co-op customers.

The retailer has dropped a clanger after it sent out 280,000 cheques in time for spending on Christmas food and gifts with the wrong date on them. The cheques, issued as part of its recent share of profit mailing, were dated 2008.

You've heard of crossed cheques, but I think it's the recipients that are cross this time.