Bridal march on bank over troubled gifts firm

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The Independent Online

Brides losing thousands of pounds worth of presents after an online marriage gift service went into administration will today march in their wedding dresses to demand help from HSBC.

An estimated 100,000 wedding guests must try to reclaim their money for presents ordered through Wrapit, which collapsed this week.

The online firm, which handles around 2,500 to 3,500 wedding lists a year, appointed administrators after spending the past few months struggling to refinance.

Customers were informed of the company's demise after receiving an email from bosses, who blamed HSBC bank for withholding its credit and debit card income.

Peter Gelardi, Wrapit's managing director, said that it would cost HSBC about £4m to refund the 80 per cent of purchases made with a credit card or Visa debit card.

In an email to customers, he wrote: "When big banks change policies, little companies sometimes get squashed."

He said HSBC accepted they will be responsible for ensuring those who bought gifts using either a credit card or a Visa debit card get a full refund but the 20 per cent of guests who bought using a Switch/Maestro card or cheque will lose out.

Wrapit previously boasted of offering the "ultimate wedding list service".

As news spread of the company's collapse yesterday, internet forums arranged a protest - with many demonstrators pledging to wear their wedding dresses.

A petition calling for HSBC to facilitate the delivery of Wrapit-organised wedding presents will be handed over at the bank's Canary Wharf headquarters.

Michael O'Sullivan, who organised the march, said he had only received 10 per cent of his gifts since he got married 10 months ago.

Mr O'Sullivan, 33, from Kennington, south London, said: "This is not a blame game.

"All we want is for HSBC to facilitate the delivery of our presents.

"We believe this would be easily achieve and could actually be cheaper than organising refunds. The deliveries could be organised at cost price and would be a huge publicity coup for them. It could save them money as well."

Amy Hinchcliff, 27, from Leeds, also endured problems with Wrapit since getting married in September last year.

But she said: "I will not be joining the march, no way. Wrapit is wholly responsible for getting themselves in this mess - why should they expect HSBC to bail them out?"

An HSBC spokeswoman said it was reviewing its options for the business.

She said: "The company directors have made several statements and suggestions for a resolution for outstanding orders, none of which HSBC considers appropriate or practical.

"HSBC's view is that this should never have happened and had the directors acted sooner to address their financial difficulties and appointed administrators when HSBC recommended, it may not have.

"HSBC fully appreciates how Wrapit's customers feel about this issue and understands their distress and concern that a resolution be found quickly.

"HSBC again refutes any suggestion that HSBC was responsible for the company's failure. HSBC believes it has done all it can over recent months to assist the directors.

"HSBC has at all times acted appropriately given the circumstances and any suggestion that HSBC is responsible for Wrapit's problems is absolutely denied."