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Clerical error results in colossal over-payment… and they weren't even very good bikes...

Supermarket giant Tesco is embroiled in a legal dispute with Universal Cycles, controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct group, after a member of staff mistakenly paid £984,000 for six Muddy Fox mountain bikes.

According to papers filed at the High Court, the bikes should have cost £984. While Universal has reportedly paid back £863,000, Tesco claims that it is still owed £121,400, but the Daily Telegraph reports that Universal claims it is owed that money for other transactions with the supermarket operator.

Lawyers for both parties are said to be in discussions, raising the prospect of an out-of-court settlement.

Besides the overpayment itself, Tesco is also understood to be seeking legal costs as well as interest at 8%. That compares to a best gross interest rate of 3% currently available to savers through the Tesco Personal Finance website. Every little helps, indeed.

And just to put things further into perspective, while £121,400 might seem a lot to you or me – just think of the bike-related wish-list you could draw up on that budget – it takes Tesco less than half an hour to make that amount in pre-tax profit, based on its reported figure of £3.1 billion for the year to February 2009.
 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.