Administrators of collapsed Christmas savings club Farepak have said clients may get back as little as 4 pence for every £1 they paid into the scheme.
Farepak customers have been left shocked by the firm's collapse
Customers are unlikely to get any of the cash they are due until after the festive season, BDO Stoy Hayward said.
More than 150,000 people are thought to have lost about £35m when Swindon-based Farepak crashed last month.
While some clients had been saving for Christmas hampers, most had planned on getting vouchers to use in shops.
A customer who paid £500 into the scheme now faces being left with only £20.
"We have always said from the outset that people would receive a very small amount and it could be 4p or 5p in every £1 on current estimates," a BDO spokesman said.
"That is based on our current estimates on the number of customers that are involved and the value of Farepak's assets to be shared out."
A families fund for Farepak members is thought to have raised more than £4m in donations.
Retailers have weighed in with contributions, and HBOS, the banker of Farepak's parent company European Home Retail (EHR) has put forward £2m.
Farepak customers who paid with a credit card in instalments between £100 and £30,000 will be protected.
Shares in EHR were suspended on August 23 but Farepak continued to collect money from customers until mid October.
Speaking for the first time since the scandal broke, EHR chief executive William Rollason has defended his role in the collapse of Farepak.
In a statement to the BBC, he denied taking savers money knowing the firm was unlikely to survive
"We were led to believe that a solvent solution was achievable - and this remained the case even after the shares were suspended," he said.
"In the end this proved to be impossible, and we can only repeat that we are extremely sorry and disappointed with what has happened."
EHR chairman Sir Clive Thompson,has been heavily criticised, with Labour MP Jim Devine calling him "the unacceptable face of capitalism" and saying he was unworthy of his knighthood.
Sir Clive is currently enjoying a luxury holiday in Argentina and told the BBC that people should reserve judgement on him until a Department of Trade and Industry investigation was complete.
He has blamed HBOS for cancelling Farepak's overdraft facility.