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It's un-farepak.

Hamper scandal victim Sharon Grahamflaw is hitting back at disgraced Farepak bosses by setting up a website.

Unfairpak.co.uk gives victims of the hamper company collapse guidance on what to do next and also advises them on what is being done to salvage the situation.

The company collapsed, leaving thousands of families robbed of their Christmas.

Hundreds of North East victims have contacted the Chronicle with tales of misery and heartache at being left with nothing.

Many callers have lost hundreds of pounds and are unsure of who to contact about the scandal and how they can take their case further.

Now Unfairpak.co.uk aims to answer some of those questions, but it is still not clear how much customers will get back, and when.

North East co-ordinator for Unfairpak Sharon Grahamflaw said ripped-off customers need to keep their plight in the public eye.

Mum-of-one Sharon, who lost pounds 400 to the hamper company, said: "It is vital customers register their claim with the administrators, BDO Stoy Hayward.

"They may not get all their money back but at least it will be some and it will give the true picture of how many innocent people this company has ripped off.

"The site was set up by Paul Sergeant, whose family had lost money and was moved by the injustice of it all. I work for the North East area and I'm here to collect information and try and offer advice in any way I can.

"We need to keep Farepak in the media, in the public domain, so it is not forgotten about and the thousands of customers are not just swept under the carpet."

Sharon said Unfairpak also suggests customers contact the site's forum at www.unfairpak.co.uk/forum/, HITA (Hamper Industry Trade Association), their local MP and Farepak bank HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) on corporateresponsibility@hbosplc.com.

A total of 150,000 people were left out of pocket to the tune of pounds 35m after the Swindon-based company crashed weeks before the festive break.

The Government's trade minister Ian McCartney described its closure as a "national emergency" and a relief fund was set up to help families. Supermarket chains and banks have donated to the relief fund, including pounds 2m from HBOS.

Farepak's managing director Nick Gilodi-Johnson has apologised to his customers and said he was "gutted" for those left out of pocket.

But Mr Gilodi-Johnson has also hit out at HBOS, which he claimed forced Farepak's parent company into receivership by cancelling its overdraft.

NA new gift-buying website launched in time for Christmas has offered a helping hand to Farepak families.

Allidesire.co.uk is donating some of its profits to the Farepak appeal fund as well as organising a hamper-buying scheme for the fund.

If a Farepak family sets up a gift list online, friends and family can purchase the items with a percentage of their profit going to the fund.

Gift choices include electronic goods, clothes, Christmas decorations and also Regency Hampers at a discounted price.

Ben Prior, the MD of Allidesire.co.uk said: "As a father of three small children I am acutely aware of the cost of Christmas. We are not a rich company, but wanted to find a way that we could donate something and feel we had helped out as much as we could.

"If more companies gave just a little bit I am sure that between us we could all make a difference to these families at such a time when we should all be generous to those less fortunate than ourselves."

The following have donated to the Farepak appeal:

NEldon Square has given pounds 1,000 in gift vouchers.

NMassage Works has given up to pounds 1,500 of treatment vouchers.

NO'Neill has given pounds 200 of merchandise

NMcDonald's has given pounds 300 of free meals.

NHolland & Barratt has given pounds 800 of merchandise.

NThe Body Shop and Bon Marche have contributed small items.

NPark Lane Cards has made a small donation and is offering anyone who can prove they were a Farepak customer 10% off any purchase up to Christmas.

NSt John's Church in Kingston Park has donated pounds 250.

NGreat-gran Joan Arrowsmith, of Quantock Close, Longbenton, has donated pounds 50 of her own vouchers from rival hamper company Park to a needy family.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 16, 2006
Words:721
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