Anger fumes at saving scheme

CECILE MEIER
Last updated 16:39 11/10/2013

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Outraged customers have berated a Christmas saving scheme on the company's Facebook page.

Christmas club Hampsta's partnership with Countdown supermarkets broke late last month, and Hampsta announced yesterday an online-only supermarket as a replacement.

Hampsta's customers are unhappy with the move and are now inundating the company's Facebook page with angry comments.

The main problem is that the online supermarket sells only dry goods, leaving Christmas savers to buy meat, dairy and vegetables elsewhere.

Some say they chose Hampsta over other saving schemes because it meant they could spend at Countdown supermarkets in preparation for Christmas.

On Hampsta's Facebook page, Annikka Pugh wrote that the only reason she had joined Hampsta was because Countdown was a partner.

"Let's face it, the biggest expense at this time of the year would have to be groceries. I can't see the point in a supermarket that doesn't sell fresh produce and budget lines. We will end up spending more than we would normally have, which defeats the purpose for me ... I saved enough in my Hampsta account to be able to buy all our groceries at this supermarket over the festive season, and now I cannot use it here, and this money is now tied up. I am very disappointed."

Jemina Jin Csy Mori wrote: "I demand a refund, this is very sad. I only joined Hampsta to save for my grocery Christmas shopping. I can't believe this now, I can't get vouchers from countdown to get my baby's presents from the warehouse."

Keri Carnie formally requested a refund through an open letter posted on the page.

"I continued with my Hampsta this year on the belief that I could use Countdown for my grocery shopping. You've not been open and honest with me as a customer as to what was going on and from my perspective, you've acted in an underhanded and sneaky manner by not notifying me about Countdown no longer being available, and hoping to get another supermarket in before I noticed."

Many wrote they wanted to cancel their contract, but the scheme's terms and conditions do not allow refunds after the start of September.

Fairfax Media could not reach Hampsta today.

Hampsta general manager Gary Alway told Radio New Zealand this morning that the partnership with Countdown was dropped after they failed to agree on commercial terms.

The company would decide on a case-by-case basis whether unhappy customers would be allowed to leave with their money, he said.

Countdown posted a statement on its website: "We regret to inform you that Hampsta have decided to remove Countdown from its list of redemption partners."

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