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Farepak Victim Puts her Trust in Park

ConsumerWatch / Social Issues Jun 17, 2007 - 11:17 PM GMT

By: Submissions

ConsumerWatch On 15th October 2006, Suzy Hall's world turned upside down.

The 36 year-old single mum of two from Edinburgh had just realised that Farepak Hampers, the company she and her four customers had saved almost £1000 with for Christmas 2006, had collapsed.

Suzy had been an Agent with the Swindon-based firm for the previous four years and, like all of Farepak's UK-wide victims, she was devastated when news first broke that it had gone into administration.

"Administration was a word I was familiar with as I have a legal background," Suzy says. "So when I read it on my computer screen I knew how serious the situation was."

She immediately did some internet research into Farepak to find out as much as she could about them and it wasn't long before she came across a website called Unfairpak.

The site labelled as a supportive community for Farepak victims - had just been set up by Swindon man Paul Sargent, whose mum and dad had lost money through the Farepak collapse too.

Suzy became one of the website's first members. "I wanted to help the victims as much as I could," she said.

"They are all sensible people in a similar position to me, saving hard all year and not getting into debt. I just felt so passionately that what had happened to us all and the timing of it, was wrong. There was more to it."

Scottish Campaign Coordinator

Suzy also spoke to Paul on the phone and soon agreed to become the Scottish Campaign Coordinator for Unfairpak. "But I never expected to be involved so much," she admits.

Since taking up her new role the day after she found out about the collapse, she's visited the Office of Fair Trading and Westminster twice, taken part in a debate in Scottish Parliament, liaised with MPs and MSPs, spoken at constituents' meetings and held a demonstration at HBOS's Edinburgh headquarters.

She also liaised with the Farepak family response fund, as well as appearing on every major TV news channel, radio station and in an in-depth investigation by Fiona Bruce's Real Story.

And, as well as running a full-time home to her children, 7 year-old Chloe and 2 year-old Ruaraidh and studying business at Edinburgh's Stevenson College, Suzy has had hundreds of Farepak victims ringing her home and mobile numbers asking for advice.

"I've been acting as a kind of agony aunt on the Unfairpak website," Suzy says. "I've been answering any questions and trying to support the victims as much as possible. Before Christmas, the standard quote on the website was 'When does Suzy sleep?'

"I'm just grateful for the round-the-clock hard work and support of the other Unfairpak administrators Sharon Grahamslaw and Kirsten Southard because without them I perhaps would have fallen apart!

Suzy has also built up lots of media contacts "I've worked with Woman Magazine to help fix Christmas for a Farepak family and I've also dealt with donations from various businessmen, one donated £700 and 'adopted' a family in Livingston.

"But the sad reality is that there are lots of needy families up and down the UK. So, it's hard to choose which
ones deserve to be given such gifts. For me, it's just a pleasure to be able to help a select few and grant their wishes."

Suzy's first indication that future Christmases may be brighter for the rest of Farepak victims came when Park's Managing Director Gary Woods contacted her via the Unfairpak site. "Gary got in touch to offer us support and advice and I was invited to spend some time at Park's offices," she says.


"I had researched the hamper industry in depth so I knew it as well as anybody. And when I saw the difference in the way Park operates, compared to Farepak, I was very impressed.

"I liked the atmosphere at the place and felt privileged to be invited. The directors are very nice people. They're gentlemen."

"Park is a stand-alone company with its own High Street Gift Voucher, unlike Farepak which had a shoddily-run parent company. It has also taken a number of positive steps such as issuing a guarantee that their customers' money is safe and liaising with the Office of Fair Trading about improving regulations in the Christmas hamper industry."

"And most importantly, they helped victims like me as much as they possibly could. I was one of the first to know that Park had donated £1million to the Farepak Response Fund and I still don't think they were given enough credit for it."

Suzy understands that people may be sceptical about saving with hamper companies, but she feels it is imperative that they don't let Farepak spoil Christmas for everybody else.

"It's important not to let one bad apple ruin the whole bag," she says. "I'm behind Park 110% and I'm so grateful for the support they gave the Farepak victims. I trust Park and on the Unfairpak website forum, the majority of Farepak victims are putting their trust in Park too."

Suzy was so pleased by the steps Park had taken to reassure its customers that their money is safe, that she decided to become an Agent herself!

By Andrew Redfern

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


18 Jun 07, 13:07
Farepak Victim Puts her Trust in Park

I am too a former farepak agent who has put there trust in park.

The main reason behind this that Park were the first company to give to the farepak response fund, and the new rule governed by the CPA I know that my money will be safe.

19 Jun 07, 14:41
Credit Unions

Credit Unions are a far better option than "savings" outfits such as Farepak or Park. They offer a whole range of services to those on low or middle incomes including low interest loans, kids savings clubs, low cost insurance and... Xmas clubs. What they do not offer are "commissions" to agents! Other than that they cannot be surpassed and, unlike "Park" or "farepak" are regulated and savings are secure.

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