Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Ex-Farepak agent’s fury at lack of compensation

A Londonderry woman has joined calls for the repayment of nearly £37m to customers on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of hamper company Farepak.

Claire Street was working as an agent in Derry for Farepak when it went bust on October 13 2006. Its customers paid money on a monthly basis to secure hamper deliveries at Christmas.

Thousands of families, including around 3,000 in Northern Ireland, were told not to expect deliveries when the company entered administration.

Mrs Street decided to personally reimburse her clients in full, paying out £2,500 from her own savings. After investing £1,000 herself in the savings scheme, she is still £3,500 out of pocket.

She told the Belfast Telegraph she feels “let down by the Government” and is calling for Farepak customers to receive the same assistance afforded to other groups. She said: “For example, I am really glad that the Presbyterian Mutual Society savers got money back, but I can’t help wondering why nothing has been done to help us too.

“I’m angry at the Government. They should stand up and say these people have to get their money back in full.”

The Farepak Victims Committee (FVC) is marking today’s anniversary by launching an online petition to demand the remaining £36.9m is paid to customers and those responsible are held to account.

It needs 100,000 signatures to prompt a discussion in the House of Commons. Mrs Street said she fully supported the FVC and would be signing the petition.

“I welcome anything that brings the issue back into the spotlight. Apart from the odd letter telling us which companies have been repaid, Farepak don’t communicate with us. That is our money being used to pay the creditors.”

Nearly 120,000 customers are still awaiting compensation, with each having lost an average of £400. Some 5,900 people, who paid into their accounts after Farepak went out of business, received cheques in 2009.

The company's former directors agreed to pay out £4m — equivalent to 15p in every pound. The nine chiefs face disqualification from acting as directors after the Insolvency Service lodged an application in the High Court in London in February on behalf of Business Secretary Vince Cable. The case is continuing.