The only reason the HO get away with things like that is because like most problems of this country the public and us applicants turn a blind eye to it. I have noticed very few people on this forum dare to criticise the poor service they received from the HO. That is why they think it is okay to treat applicants like this. If they know the application will take 10 weeks, then simply by principle we should be allowed to apply 10 weeks before our current visa runs out.
The lenght of the visa has recently been extended form 24 to 27 months as "someone" realised it was hardly possible to aplply within the 28 days rule.
As an aside, banks are phasing out cheque, therefore it won't be a payment option anymore soon (unless you ask and pay your bank for a cheque...).
I do intend to make a complain and follow up on my previous complaint that has not been answered yet...