Farepak delays "unfair" say savers who lost money

Jean McLardy
Image caption Jean McLardy is a former Farepak agent

Farepak savers are marking the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the firm with a petition to government.

The company, which allowed people to spread the cost of Christmas food and presents, went bust in October 2006.

About 116,000 people lost almost £37m in total. They have been told they will get back just 15p in the pound.

The petition calls for action against those responsible, full refunds, and for prepayment businesses to face statutory regulation.

Louise McDaid, from the Farepak Victims Committee said the government had shown they could act when they wanted to.

Christmas hampers

"The government have a responsibility to ensure that people's money is protected", she told BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"If they can protect the banks, then they can protect ordinary working people."

Jean McLardy, from West Kilbride in Ayrshire, is a former Farepak agent.

A group of family members and friends saved with her, to buy Christmas hampers or vouchers which could be used to pay for presents at High Street stores.

She remembers the events of five years ago vividly.

"I only found out about it because my sister phoned me," Ms McLardy said.

"It was in the Sunday paper. And having to tell everybody was awful."

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Media captionFarepak five years on

"I lost half a stone in weight in three days."

The scheme mainly attracted people on low incomes, and a lot of pensioners.

Ms McLardy said: "Unfortunately my mum has since died, and I don't know whether I'll get her money back or not."

"But my mum might not be the only one in that position. There could be lots."

"Three of (my savers) were pensioners."

And Louise McDaid from the victims committee insisted that the collapse of Farepak was not a one-off.

She said: "We've had Red Letters, which was a big company with one of the people that we watch weekly on the Dragons Den."

"Unfortunately one of the ladies that we knew, who was a Farepak victim, had pre-paid for a three piece suite. But the company went bust. So she had a double whammy."

"Anything you pre-pay is not properly regulated. If the company goes down, then your money goes with it. They can use your money to fund their debts."

BDO, the liquidators for Farepak, said: "It's not yet possible to confirm when a dividend will be paid to creditors."

Image caption Louise McDaid insisted that the collapse of Farepak was not a one-off

The accountants added that in order to reduce costs they were trying to ensure that all money due to Farepak was received before making any payments.

They said they expected to update customers and agents before the end of December 2011.

So far the only Farepak savers who have received any payments are about 6,000 customers who paid in cash in the last few days before the business folded.

Those funds had been held in a ring-fenced account.

The Department for Business said it could not comment on Farepak because action was started against nine company directors in January 2011.

A spokesman added: "Until all proceedings have come to a conclusion there will be no further details about this case."

If the Farepak e-petition attracts 100,000 signatures the situation could be debated in the House of Commons.

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