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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 14:50 GMT
Nightmare before Christmas
Thousands of families lost their savings towards Christmas food and gifts after the Farepak hamper firm collapsed in October. Now, a new fund is being established to help compensate those affected.

The BBC News website spoke to families about their loss and how they think the situation should be resolved.

MARLESE FLETCHER

Marlese Fletcher's son and daughter
Marlese Fletcher's children were hugely disappointed

I felt angry, upset and confused, when I heard that Farepak had collapsed. I lost 600, which I have been saving since January. I have two kids and now I have no money to buy them presents.

That money was our Christmas. My son is very understanding but my daughter is hugely disappointed and I don't know how to explain it to her.

After I heard the news I immediately contacted Farepak. I still haven't heard from them. When I attempted to order a catalogue online, I got an automatic email telling me that the order has been placed and that I will receive the catalogue shortly.

I know that the government has already urged companies to make a goodwill gesture and compensate people who've been affected. And I am grateful for the fund that's been set up - it is certainly better than nothing.

After all, If we can send money abroad to help other people, why can't we help our own people in need?

But most importantly, I think the government should conduct an investigation into what had happened and where the money had gone. Didn't the management of Farepak know well in advance that they were in trouble? Unfortunately we learnt about it when it was too late.

SARAHJANE KINSEY

Catalogue detail from Farepak website
Farepak collapsed in October without offering compensation

I've been saving money all year long to be able to have a proper Christmas. I was devastated when I lost the 700 I had saved so far.

I have two children, a 12-year-old and a six-year-old. My little one kept saying that Christmas was cancelled. Then he asked me if Easter was cancelled too. Try explaining it to a little child.

I sent out lots of emails. To Farepak, our local MP, the BBC. Nothing happened for weeks.

Now Sainsbury's are saying they'll offer compensation to people who have lost money, and others are promising to do the same.

It's better than nothing, I guess. But it means we have to rely on their charity and mercy for money that we've earned and saved.

Do I believe if I'll get my money back? I'll believe it when I see it.

This is not the end of the story. I would like to get my money back from Farepak. I will be completely satisfied when I see them investigated and held accountable for the loss that all of us have suffered.



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