Customers of the Craft Channel have been left without orders or refunds after the company behind the TV outlet entered administration during the Christmas shopping season. If you've been left hanging by a thread there are steps you can take to claw back your cash.
Until recently the channel – which aired on Sky, Freesat and online – sold sewing supplies, paper, glitter and jewellery-making kits via live broadcasts and its website.
However, some of its customers have contacted MoneySavingExpert.com to complain about items they've ordered in recent months failing to arrive, while others have taken to the channel's Facebook page in recent weeks to highlight missing orders or refunds worth up to £250 which were never received.
It's now emerged that on 22 November channel owners Craft Channel Ltd entered administration, with the channel itself being taken over by a separate company, Agency Communications Ltd, on 5 December. The channel then continued to trade under its new ownership.
Yet many customers appear not to have been aware of the change of ownership until a message appeared on the channel's Facebook page more than six weeks later, explaining what had happened.
It means customers were unwittingly buying from one of two different companies depending on when they placed their orders, leading to some confusion about which you should turn to regarding missing orders or refunds.
While the channel formerly broadcast many of its programmes live, it now appears to have stopped broadcasting on Sky and Freesat, the telephone ordering line is no longer working and no products are currently available on the website. Its live stream has stopped working and now displays the message: "This channel has been suspended due to non-payment."
If you're owed an order or refund that hasn't arrived, read on to find out which firm's responsible for it and how you can contact it. You can also check out our guide for administration help.
'I ordered before Christmas but nothing's arrived'
Craft Channel viewer Jess is one of several to contact us to complain about a missing order. She told us her £30 order for crafting paper and polymer stamps, placed a few days before Christmas, was never acknowledged and never arrived. Eventually she was forced to reclaim the lost money through PayPal's buyer protection scheme.
Fellow customer Sharon told us: "I am a customer of the Craft Channel and I am having problems getting in touch with them. They owe me £25.99 for a missing order and I am having no joy. The phone number is not working, it is just a message saying they are having problems with it."
In the last fortnight other customers have complained about orders not arriving on the channel's Facebook page, with one posting on 25 January: "I'm still waiting for a order I placed on 8 Jan. Will I be getting my order as the money has been taken?"
Another said: "What's going on with this channel? My orders have still not come and I've tried to call but phone lines are not working."
Several others have complained about not receiving refunds worth hundreds of pounds, with one saying: "You still owe me my December refund of £250 and refuse to take my calls so Trading Standards will be involved."
We've also heard from former employees and suppliers of the channel who say they haven't been paid what they're owed.
Who's responsible for my missing order/refund?
It appears the problem with missing orders started late last year, and has affected customers ordering from the channel's old and new owners. So the company responsible for fulfilling your missing order or refund will depend on when you placed the order:
- Orders placed before 22 November 2016:These orders were placed when Craft Channel Ltd owned and controlled the channel. Craft Channel Ltd is now in administration, with UHY Hacker Young the appointed administrators.
If you placed an order before 22 November that never arrived, or if you're owed a refund on an order placed before this date, you can try to recoup the money you've lost by registering with UHY as an unsecured creditor. To do this, email email@example.com with details of what you're owed and any supporting evidence, such as order confirmations.
Be warned though – unsecured creditors often get back mere pennies in the pound when a company's assets are eventually divvied up, so you may not get back much, or anything, via this route. But there may be other ways to reclaim – see below for more on this.
- Orders placed between 22 November and 4 December 2016: Administrators UHY took over the running of the Craft Channel and it continued to trade under UHY's control, meaning some orders were placed during these 12 days.
UHY has told us that if an order placed during this period hasn't shown up, it's unlikely to arrive now. However the good news is UHY has ring-fenced all the money it received for orders placed during this time, so you can get a full refund without becoming an unsecured creditor.
To do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of what you're owed, making clear that you ordered between 22 November and 4 December, and are requesting a full and speedy refund, rather than registering as an unsecured creditor.
- Orders placed on or after 5 December 2016: The business and some assets were sold to Agency Communications Ltd, which then began trading as the Craft Channel. The new owner took on responsibility for all orders placed from December 5. Several customers who ordered on or after this date have reported not receiving their goods.
Confusingly, we've since learned from the administrators that the channel may have changed hands again - with Charles James Associates PLC, Julian Ballantyne and Dalvinder Graham the reported new owners.
It's not yet clear where customers stand in terms of missing orders placed after this date - though MoneySavingExpert is continuing to investigate. However you can try to contact the Craft Channel by emailing email@example.com or visiting this webpage and clicking 'submit a request' in the top right hand corner.
If you're struggling to get a response or you're not able to reach a resolution this way, you can try one of the reclaim methods below.
Are there other ways to get my money back?
We're continuing to investigate what customers can do to get their money back if they're owed a refund or a missing order. However here are some methods you can try to reclaim your money:
- Paid for an item costing more than £100 with a credit card? Try Section 75. If you paid on a credit card for an item that cost £100+, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act credit card firms are jointly liable with retailers if something goes wrong – such as the item never arriving.
That means you may be able to get a refund from your card provider. You can use our template letter to file a claim – see our Section 75 guide for more info.
- Paid with a debit card, or for an item costing less than £100 with a credit card? Try chargeback. If you paid on a debit card (or on a credit card and each individual item cost less than £100) and it never arrived, you can try the chargeback scheme.
Unlike Section 75, this is not a legal requirement; it's a customer service guarantee which means if you don't receive the goods you bought on a card, you may be able to get your money back. It's worth trying – see our Chargeback guide for a full how-to.
- Paid using PayPal? You can try to reclaim using its buyer protection scheme – and we've had at least one report of this being successful.
What's happened to the missing orders?
The administrators' report sheds some light on where the missing orders are. It reveals that stock is being held by the operators of the warehouse in which it's being stored.
The report states: "Despite attempts to release all stock, no agreement has been reached and [warehouse operators] iForce have advised that no stock, whether it is owned by the company or otherwise, will be released until payment is received in full.
"Due to the limited funds available, the joint administrators were unable to make a ransom payment to release stock and this matter is therefore ongoing."
It's not clear if or when customers' outstanding orders will be delivered, but in a statement published in an industry publication on 13 January, the channel's new owners Agency Communications Ltd said: "The majority of suppliers have stayed with the channel and continue to be supporting the business going forward.
"Dozens of new suppliers are also being lined up to come on board in 2017 as the company grows and we expand the range of products and crafts."
More recently the channel posted on its Facebook page: "We are aware that some customers are still waiting for orders or refunds. These are a very high priority and the company is working to fulfill these commitments as soon as possible."