A LAST-DITCH effort to help victims of a collapsed hamper firm has failed - dismaying dozens of Huddersfield families.
The British Retail Consortium had promised to make a "goodwill gesture" payment to customers of Farepak, which ran into trouble last month.
But the BRC now says the situation is far more complicated than first thought and it would not be able to find a solution before Christmas.
This means that thousands of families - including dozens in Huddersfield - face a bleak Christmas.
Dalton woman Anne Burns - who, with family members, has lost about £12,000 - said the BRC's decision was a bitter disappointment.
She said: "People have had their hopes built up over the past few weeks, only to them dashed."
Mrs Burns was an agent for Farepak, collecting hundreds of pounds from customers and forwarding the cash to Farepak.
She added: "Everyone has been fantastic about it. We think we might get something back from Farepak, but we haven't heard anything for a few weeks.
"The administrators say they will write to us before the end of November."
Swindon-based Farepak ran a savings scheme in which an estimated 150,000 customers put money aside for vouchers and Christmas hampers.
Administrators were called into the company on October 13 and said no orders would be fulfilled.
Many of those affected saved hundreds of pounds each in the scheme to provide some Christmas cheer. But they now face the holiday season without presents, turkey or other treats.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman raised the matter with Consumer Minister Ian McCartney and Parliament has called on the Serious Fraud Squad to examine the Farepak collapse.
It was hoped that the BRC would offer a lifeline to struggling families, but the consortium, which represents retailers across the UK, said it had "discounted attempts" to find a workable solution to the problem.