'I don't think we'll get any money back': Mail-order customers are suffering heavy losses through company liquidations. David Hewson reports

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The Independent Online
CINDY KEEN, of Herne Bay, Kent, and her husband Vyvyan, paid Olympic pounds 1,256 by cheque in November for a PC that was never delivered. Because the machine was bought by cheque for business, the couple are unlikely to get a penny of their money back, even through the magazine mail-order protection scheme.

Keen Communications, the company they run together, works in the field of oil industry communications. 'We needed something bigger and better than our then computer and Olympic seemed to be a good choice. They promised us seven days' delivery but nothing ever turned up.

'They kept making excuses - they were waiting for a chip on the motherboard, something was held up in customs. We talked to the magazine we bought it through but they did nothing, so eventually we talked to the trading standards people.'

By this time, Olympic was in liquidation. Keen Communications' pounds 1,256 is among more than pounds 500,000 in pre-paid deposits listed in the liquidator's investigations. 'Realistically, I don't think we'll be getting any money back. We paid by cheque because that's the way we've always done business and we never thought twice about it. Olympic seemed to be a big company. We bought our last computer that way and it was with us in 48 hours.'

(Photograph omitted)