As DIY chain Focus goes into administration, we explain how customers awaiting orders can ensure they don’t lose out.
Customers of DIY retailerFocus face an anxious wait to discover whether their orders will be fulfilled after it was announced the group had gone into administration.
Anyone who has paid in advance for products could lose their cash if no buyer is found for the company’s 178 stores.
Focus entered administration on Thursday after struggling to pay some of its debts, and almost 4,000 jobs are thought to be at risk.
Representatives from administrator Ernst & Young said there were a number of potential buyers for the business, but added that there would be a halt on the delivery of outstanding orders at least until Focus’s future becomes clearer.
Here are the answers to questions that current and potential Focus customers may have.
I have made an order that was due to be delivered next week and Focus has taken payment. What are my options?
The administrators say that they are unable to send out any orders currently in the pipeline or issue refunds.
They are asking customers with outstanding orders to write to them with details of their purchases at this address:
Focus (DIY) Limited (in Administration)
c/o Ernst & Young LLP
100 Barbirolli Square
You can request a refund, but your chances of getting this (or having your order fulfilled) depend on whether a buyer is found for the group.
If you have paid for your items on a credit card and the total value of the order is £100 or more, you can claim the money back from your lender under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
The same applies if you have paid with a debit card such as those issued by Visa and Mastercard: refunds are available under each organisation’s chargeback scheme if you don’t get the goods you pay for, for example.
There is no minimum spend limit as with Section 75 claims, but reports suggest that bank staff are not always well geared to dealing with debit-card chargeback claims.
The key is to be persistent, and if necessary to make an official complaint to the bank detailing what has happened and that you want to make a claim under the Visa or Mastercard chargeback scheme for non-receipt of goods.
Claims should be brought within 120 days in most cases.
Can I still shop at Focus?
At the moment, the stores are still open for business. But note that their refund policies have changed as a result of administration.
If you want to return a purchase made from 5 May onwards, you will only be entitled to a like-for-like replacement rather than a refund – unless there is a fault with the item, in which case you can still get your money back.
In common with many retailers, Focus had operated a refund policy on unwanted goods – provided they were still in saleable condition – but this is no longer the case.
But bear in mind that if you do buy something and the company is wound up, you will then be unable to take it back.
Focus is not currently taking any orders for home or store delivery.
I have some Focus gift vouchers: can I still spend them?
Yes, you can in the company’s stores. But it might be an idea to use them sooner rather than later while the company is still trading.