Christmas cancelled for local savers

THOUSANDS of pounds of Christmas savings put away by prudent Montrose shoppers have been lost after the company holding their funds collapsed.

Farepak Food and Gift Ltd, owned by shopping group European Home Retail, went into administration on Friday and those who had been saving with the company for the festive period have been told not to expect refunds, with many losing hundreds of pounds. EHR are also under administration.

Trish Brown, who has two young sons, has been an agent for Farepak in Montrose for eight years and made contributions to the scheme for eight of her friends and family.

She was shocked by the company's collapse and felt disappointed that she did not receive direct notification from the company of its situation.

" I received no word from Farepak whatsoever. I have personally lost 1,000 this year, so we'll have to cut back for Christmas. It was the most we had ever saved. Over 2,700 has been lost between the eight of us and I'd like to know where that money has gone. I know of another agent in the town that lost 4,000.

"I was really upset when I heard about it. I felt guilty at first, although I shouldn't have because it's not my fault. But some people won't have a Christmas this year because of this.

"They kept taking money when they knew they were in trouble, and the link to deposit more cash was still on the website on Sunday, which is appaling."

Trish's mother-in-law, Isabel Brown, has been putting money aside with Farepak for a number of years and said that the news has really upset her Christmas plans.

"I was totally devastated. I lost a lot of money and it's going to mean I can't get anyone presents. I should have been getting my vouchers at the end of the month.

"It was a good idea because it meant that I couldn't touch its parent company, FFG's customers will not receive their that money until December, then I could go to the shops and get everyone's presents with the vouchers. I don't think I'll see the money again."

Farepak would take contributions from its agents over the course of the year, paying them a 3% commission. The funds would be returned to the savers in the form of vouchers for popular High Street stores, hampers or gifts. No interest would be earned on the savings by the customer.

A message on Farepak's helpline informs callers that the company has gone into administration and that "Farepak Food and Gift Ltd will not be able to fulfil any orders in respect of hampers, vouchers and jewellery etc.

"No further goods or vouchers will be delivered by Farepak Food and Gift Ltd. You will not receive refunds."

A statement by administrators BDO Stoy Hayward said: "Unfortunately, as a result of the failure of FFG and vouchers or hampers. Furthermore the initial facts and figures provided by the directors to the administrators, indicate that FFG customers will not receive a refund of the payments they have made other than perhaps a small dividend.

"It is too early to tell what the ultimate outcome will be for the creditors as the administrators have only just taken control of the company. In due course, as part of their duties, the administrators will investigate the circumstances in more detail and report to those who are owed money."

Any agents who wish to make a claim on behalf of their clients can write to Kings Wharf, 20-30 Kings Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3EX or email