The government is to probe the collapse of Christmas hamper firm Farepak, which ceased trading earlier this month.
Farepak will not be delivering hampers this Christmas
Trade Secretary Alistair Darling said that thousands of families losing money was a "matter of great concern".
His department has begun investigating what happened at the company, but has stressed that launching a probe did not indicate Farepak was to blame.
Customers paid money monthly to the firm or its agents towards food hampers for the festive season.
"It is a matter of great concern that a number of people across the UK paid a large amount of money to a company that is now in administration," Mr Darling said.
The collapse of Farepak, owned by European Home Retail (EHR), is being examined by the company investigations branch of the Department of Trade and Industry.
They can demand to see documentation and records to determine whether there had been any wrong-doing.
BDO Stoy Hayward, administrator for the Swindon firm, has said Farepak was "unable to honour its commitments to make deliveries of any vouchers, hampers or other items" to its tens of thousands of customers.
Farepak, which also sold TVs, electrical goods and jewellery, employed 35,000 agents across the UK and had been trading since 1969.
Customers will not get their goods or gift vouchers that they have paid for over the course of the year.
Their only hope for some sort of recompense is to put in a claim for compensation from any assets that are realised in Farepak.