Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 23:51 UK

'Cheap wine' ads for did not deliver

By Jon Douglas
Radio 4's You & Yours

wine ad

Hundreds of people are thought to have lost money after responding to two national newspaper adverts for consignments of cheap wine.

The ads for promised "huge savings on fine wines and champagnes".

The half-page adverts appeared in both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail on Saturday, 6 March 2010.

West Yorkshire Police estimate several hundred people placed orders, but are unaware of any wine being delivered.

The adverts read: "With restaurants and public houses closing down on an almost daily basis due to the current recession, a European supplier to the wholesale wine merchant and restaurant trade has been left with surplus stock due to cancelled orders."

"Surplus Wine UK have been instructed to clear this surplus stock by the case, direct to the public at less than trade prices!"

The premise of the advertisement made a lot of sense
Clare Dunstall

But people who paid up-front for cases of wine have not received them.

"The premise of the advertisement made a lot of sense in that there were companies who had bought stock who could no longer afford to pay for it", says Clare Dunstall.

She and her husband Justin from Norfolk ordered two and a half cases of wine costing £375 which were not delivered.

Neil Cammies from Newport writes a wine column for the Western Mail. He spent £430 on several cases of wine.

"The things on the list were all bits and bobs and not necessarily all the usual suspects, the real stellar stars. There were some very unusual little wines in there. They were all good value but not ridiculously cheap".

Mr Cammies says the money was taken from his credit card account within three days of him placing the order and he was given a date and time for his delivery. When it failed to arrive he started making some calls.

"I decided to ring a friend of mine who had also placed an order and he said that he was waiting for a delivery the previous Saturday and hadn't received anything. I feel very let down and very angry about it".

No refunds

West Yorkshire Police have been unable to find anyone receiving wine or champagne after placing an order but would like to hear from anyone who did.

Surplus Wines UK was owned by a parent company, Mardenis Ltd, which was based at a restaurant - No 3 York Place - in Leeds city centre. Mardenis went into administration just four weeks after the newspaper advertisements appeared.

The restaurant is closed and police say they have been unable to contact the director of Mardenis Ltd, Dennis LeFrancq and believe he is no longer in the UK.

"Quite clearly we would like to speak to him at the earliest opportunity," said Acting Detective Sergeant Jon Cockeram from West Yorkshire Police's Economic Crime Unit.

"We would hope he would be able to fill us in with the background of what has occurred and clarify the situation."

In a letter sent to customers who ordered wine, the administrators, Armstrong Watson, state: "If anyone has ordered and paid for goods that have not been delivered by the Company, regrettably, the Company is not in a position to supply these orders".

"Refunds will not be possible due to the Company's lack of funds when it entered administration. Anyone affected by this is now classed as an unsecured creditor".

The administrators have refused to comment any further.

Hear more on Radio 4's You & Yours from midday on Friday 30 April 2010 or afterwards at the You & Yours website

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