Update: 10 May. As the story has developed, Focus DIY is now fulfilling some of its orders. See its website for further details.
Customers who have unfulfilled orders with home store Focus DIY face losing their cash as the group went into administration today.
At present, any outstanding orders with the Crewe-based store that have already been paid for will not be delivered. It is unclear how many people are affected.
Administrator Ernst & Young says it's too early to say whether this will be a temporary or permanent measure and whether customers will ever see any of that money again.
However, credit card and debit card providers may offer refunds (see the Section 75 guide).
Ernst & Young suggests anyone with an outstanding order has two options: write to its Manchester office enclosing proof of order in the hope of a refund or, if they paid on card, pursue their plastic provider.
The latter option is likely to prove more fruitful unless a buyer is found who can deliver those orders or offer a refund.
Focus DIY customer? What should you do?
Here are your options if you have an outstanding order:
- Did you pay by credit card for items over £100? If so, your card company should give you a full refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, but only for individual items that cost £100 or more (see the Section 75 guide). Contact your card firm to claim
- If not, did you pay on plastic? If you paid by Mastercard or Visa (credit or debit card) card you could still get a refund from your card company under the pair's chargeback schemes (see the Chargeback guide). You must report to your bank or building society within 120 days.
- Don't fulfil that criteria? If not, then keep up-to-date with the administration for updates on whether a buyer appears or not (see link, above right) and, either way, for updates on how much of your cash you may get back. Usually, customers only get a small percentage of the amount owed when a firm fails so prepare for the worst.
How did Focus fall into administration?
Focus blames low consumer confidence for its demise.
An Ernst & Young spokesman says: "Low consumer confidence and a very weak housing transaction market has impacted on Focus and placed considerable pressure on sales and margins.
"Despite management's actions to tightly control costs and restructure the operations unfortunately it has not been possible for the business to continue to trade outside of insolvency."
Although in administration, all 175 Focus stores in the UK will remain open until Ernst & Young finds a buyer, if at all, even though it is no longer delivering or taking online orders.