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Working Lunch Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 17:49 GMT
Cashback couple left in the cold
A cashback offer can be attractive whether you're buying a kitchen or a credit card.

But it might be wise not to count on it.

Because who can tell whether the company will be in a position to honour the agreement when the time comes?

Working Lunch has reported in the past on people who've bought sofas and kitchens and then been unable to get the cash they were promised.

Solar heating system
The system cost more than 5,000
John and Jeanne Money from Oxfordshire spent more than 5,000 on a solar heating system.

They were told they could get their money back if they fulfilled certain conditions, including:

  • providing temperature readings for a year
  • applying for the refund within a certain period.

    But when they contacted the company they bought the system from, Sunseeker, they were told the insurers behind the scheme had failed.

    'Excited'

    "We were very excited about getting the money," says Jeanne, "but our letter was returned."

    Jeanne Money
    Jeanne Money: Disappointed
    "We would probably not have entered into this knowing what we now know.

    "We are very, very disappointed indeed."

    The company which was responsible for the refunds - Capitol Incentives - was closed down by the Department of Trade and Industry in the public interest.

    That meant that future victims were protected, but not those who had already been caught out.

    Sunseeker says it is as much a victim as anyone else.

    The company says it paid more than 70,000 in premiums to Capitol, which has been lost.

    No consolation

    And it is not happy about Capitol being closed down.

    "The DTI and other government bodies are a law unto themselves," says Sunseeker, adding: "It is the liquidator's responsibility (appointed by the governemnt) to advise all customers who attempt to make a claim to inform them of the position."

    All this is no consolation to people like the Moneys, who thought the system they bought and the cashback offer were all part of the same deal.

    It's yet another example of how unreliable these offers can be.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Simon Gompertz
    "The company who supplied the equipment say they are a victim too"
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