Customers told to protect deposits with credit cards after collapse of big-name stores

By Neil Craven for The Mail on Sunday

Consumer watchdogs are this weekend warning shoppers to take every precaution when making cash deposits on expensive items after a spate of retail failures, with the possibility of more to follow.

Water running from a tap

Money down the drain: Shoppers must  take precautions when making cash deposits after spate of retail failures

Thousands of customers of Moben Kitchens and Dolphin Bathrooms are waiting to hear whether they might receive goods or a return of their deposits after parent company Homeform warned that it planned to draft in administrators.

The Consumers' Association said: 'Consumers must take every precaution to make sure they are protected, such as using credit cards for deposits or purchases.'

Retail sources told Financial Mail that companies selling expensive items such as furniture, washing machines and kitchens have been among the hardest hit.

The Consumer Credit Act of 1974 protects shoppers using credit cards for purchases between £100 and £30,000. The Consumers' Association pointed out that shoppers were completely covered, even if they pay as little as £1 of the deposit with a credit card. Debit card payments are not covered.

Homeform, which owns Moben, Dolphin, Kitchens Direct and Sharps bedrooms, said it planned to call in administrators as soon as this week. Its owner is US private equity firm Sun Capital, which has an office at No 2 Park Street in London's West End and claims to have £5 billion of assets.

It advised shoppers to call the Moben head office on 0845 603 3020 for more details on orders or how to claim back deposits. Sun Capital's phone number is 020 7318 1100. And enquiries are being dealt with by Maitland on 020 7379 5151.

Moben customers have already been offered the chance to recoup their money by rival Wren Kitchens, which said it would match the funds for those affected.

Homeform is the latest retailer in the home and DIY sector to fail since Habitat folded two days ago.

In what could be the start of a market consolidation Homebase and Argos owner Home Retail acquired the Habitat name and three stores. The rest of the company was placed into administration.

Can we help? Contact Financial Mail

Are you worried about having paid a deposit to a High Street retailer who has gone bust or who you fear may do so? Financial Mail would like to hear about it.

Private equity firms have too many times used companies such as Homeform for financial gain while customers have been left with the consequences.

Please contact Financial Mail with your complaints about Homeform or a similar situation about which you feel aggrieved. Contact our retail reporter at