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Alexie Sayle doesn’t play bowls. If he did he’d probably come up with a new lyric about the datestamp on lawn bowls.

Thing is, when you getta new motor the reg number tells you how old it is. If you are buying second hand motor, the reg number is a good indication of how long it will last.

When you getta new set of bowls, things aren’t so straightforward.

I’m writing this in February 2019. According to World Bowls rules, a new set of bowls is legal for competition play for 10 years from the date stamped on the bowl.

But try and buy a set of bowls today with a 2019 stamp on it and you won’t find one anywhere.

The best you’ll find is the ’28 stamp. Subtract February 2019 from December 2028 and you get nine years and ten months worth of value. In other words you’ve been short changed by two months.

It gets worse. If you buy your new set of bowls in November 2019 they’ll also have a ’28 stamp on them.

Now you’ve been short-changed by eleven months.

In any other field of commerce where weights and measures are involved, this would be the sort of thing that could be flagged up to Trading Standards.

But in the world of bowls, it seems, trading standards are something none of the manufacturers – or the world bowls authorities – are aware of.

It’s embarrassing for us, as retailers. Quite often a customer will say “Can I have a discount? I’m only getting nine and a half years out of these new bowls, but I’m paying for ten!”

We then have to explain that the manufacturers don’t give us a discount until the bowls have less than eight years of the ten left to run.

So what’s the answer? There could be a sliding scale for pricing, based on the number of months/years of life a bowl has left.

Just like a motor dealer will offer a larger discount in the weeks before a new number plate is due to come in, so bowls manufacturers could price their bowls to the trade to take the competition life of a set of bowls into account.

We would then pay less for a set in June of any year than we do in January and could pass that saving on to our customers.

What do you think? Do you look at the datestamp when you buy your bowls?