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Customers out of pocket after Chippenham bunk
A Chippenham optical outlet has vanished, leaving customers thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Simply Specs cleared out of its Bumpers Farm premises on October 13 and left no contact details for people waiting for glasses.
Country Estates, head landlord of the Cavalier Court units, said they had had no prior notice of Simply Specs leaving and found it distressing to see the number of people turn up, mainly elderly, who said they had handed over not only their money but, in some cases, their frames to be fitted with lenses too.
Caretaker Bryan Bradfield said: “It’s been awful. There have been dozens of people. Monday was the worst, they were here every five minutes.”
A phone number posted on the window the following Monday, this week, does not belong to the owners, but to a customer who is gathering names to take to the police.
The man, who did not want to be named, said he has taken calls from 20 people who are looking to recover a total of £3,700. He can be contacted on (01249) 720690.
Another customer, Martin Grugeon, of Calne, said he and his 58-year-old retired wife paid £150 and were told to ring in seven days. “Then it was 17 days, and then the phone just kept ringing,” he said. “When we went down there it was all locked up.
“They shouldn’t have taken people’s money if they knew they were going.”
Care worker Wendy Stubbs, 58, of North Petherton, Somerset, was so happy with the service when she lived in Wiltshire that she put in an order for three pairs of varifocals and made a 134-mile round-trip to pick them up.
She said: “We told them we were coming especially and they let us and said the courier must be late and had us waiting for ages, then promised to deliver them to our home. Then on the Monday they weren’t answering the phone.”
Mrs Stubbs said her newly-retired husband Chris had handed over £630 from his first pension payment, and was given a receipt without a VAT number.
“The maddening thing is, we still need glasses. So we’ve got to find the money from somewhere,” she said.
The General Optical Council, the UK regulator for the optical professions, said Simply Specs in Chippenham was not registered with them, though this was not a legal requirement.
Simply Specs Ltd registered at Companies House is a separate business based in Lincoln.
A spokesman said they had been inundated with calls and emails from people looking for reimbursement, but were not connected in any way.
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