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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
New bid to help Farepak families
Customers protesting at Farepak's HQ
Angry customers protesting at Farepak's HQ in Swindon
The government is to meet the British Retail Consortium in an attempt to help thousands of families affected by the collapse of Farepak.

The Trade and Industry Minister, Ian McCartney, told the Commons he is also meeting the Office of Fair Trading.

He wants to tighten rules to avoid such a situation happening again in the future.

Farepak has been asked to provide an insolvency report as soon as possible.

Under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, failed companies must detail the conduct of all directors who were in office in the last three years of the company's trading.

Mr McCartney says he will see what could be done "in advance of Christmas as a goodwill gesture to help the most difficult and needy who've lost out completely".

Anne Snelgrove, the MP local to the Swindon-based company, raised the issue in the Commons saying the situation amounts to 'robbing thousands on low incomes from their Christmas savings.'

These companies should not be able to have access to customers' money until all orders have been met
Adrian Hendry

She asked Mr McCartney if he did not agree that the situation 'stinks' as the company had made a profit of 1.2m a year and a half earlier.

The company runs a savings scheme where customers can put money aside for vouchers and Christmas hampers - but administrators now say that no orders will be fulfilled.

Mr McCartney says he is also liaising with the Hamper Industry Trade Association (HITA), of which Farepak was as a member.

Customers and agents of Farepak were further let down after finding out that company's cash bond guarantee with the Association did not cover any money for refunds.

Hundreds of people have lost thousands of pounds and are furious that it has been allowed to continue trading despite warnings it was in trouble.

Farepak website
Farepak's website described the scheme as "safe and reliable"

Ms Berry worked as an agent and had paid 3,730 on behalf of customers. She is planning to pay them back out of her own pocket.

"I too feel morally obligated to give my customers their money back... I have therefore taken a loan to do this, but am furious with the whole situation. As a single mother, this is a burden that could bury me."

Another disappointed customer, Adrian Hendry, has lost thousands of pounds saved up throughout the year.

"I have collected and banked 6,500 religiously over the last 10 months. These companies should not be able to have access to customers' money until all orders have been met."

All people affected should keep an eye on the HITA and Farepak websites to check for any new information.

Concerned customers and agents can register a claim in the following ways.

Telephone: 0870 066 9826

Fax: 01793 606 057

Email: customer.claims@farepak.co.uk

Address: Farepak Food & Gifts Limited - In Administration
Kings Wharf
20-30 Kings Road
Reading
RG1 3EX


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SEE ALSO
Anger as compensation hopes fade
18 Oct 06 |  Working Lunch
Hamper customers 'not protected'
18 Oct 06 |  Working Lunch
Christmas gloom for 100,000
17 Oct 06 |  Working Lunch

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