TWO businesswomen have lost thousands of pounds and been struggling to pay their mortgages after a portable card machine failed to transfer money into their bank account.
Lucy Lane and Nina Barrett, who both live in Eastbourne and are business partners at Blue hairdressers in South Street, signed up for a portable chip and pin Transax terminal in November after a salesman from the firm promised them better rates and an easier, more efficient way for their customers to pay.
Lucy, 33, said, “We knew Transax was a big company and they were offering better rates.
“We used it as normal in November but thought it strange that we didn’t get a weekly statement like we did with our other provider.”
Nina, 38, added, “There was no way of tracking it and we found the money was not going through daily. It was going through in dribs and drabs.”
Lucy, Nina and their salon manager Aimee Mockett were using the machine as instructed and thought all the money was being transferred into their account.
However, despite an extremely busy December, the wage cheques they wrote out to their eight members of staff bounced.
Lucy said, “We had taken shedloads over Christmas and those cheques should never have bounced. We were at the end of our overdraft and thought we had been robbed.”
Twenty-year-old manger Aimee says she has spent nearly everyday on the phone to Transax and the other companies it uses as sub-contractors.
She said, “I have just been passed from pillar to post. Sometimes I was on hold for hours.”
Aimee says she manually input transactions which had not gone through, under the advice of Transax, but then clients started returning to Blue because they had been charged twice.
The ladies, who still didn’t have any funds in their account, asked for a statement of all the transactions so they could cross reference but say Transax told them it was ‘impossible’ to provide that information.
Aimee said, “Transax told me they would do the refunds but then they refunded clients who hadn’t been charged twice.
“Then we received a bill for £995 for the refunding service they had provided, even though they had got it wrong.”
The ladies are still working to resolve the situation and are hoping to get compensation from Transax. They have no idea how much money they have lost but have bank charges of £800 as a result of the problem.
Nina said, “We have both missed mortgage repayments and I have struggled to pay my child’s nursery fees. It has caused so much emotional stress, it makes me tearful.
“Lucy and I haven’t been able to pay ourselves and we were so embarrassed that we couldn’t pay our staff. I am lucky that the staff have been patient and have not walked.
“We will bounce back from this but it could have finished off a business which has not been around for as long.”
Blue is currently only taking cash and cheques and has had to phone all its customers ahead of their appointments to let them know. Nina added, “I would like to thank all our clients. They have been fantastic and really understanding.”
A spokesperson from Transax said, “Clearly we cannot publicly discuss our individual customers’ financial situation, but we are committed to ensuring that this issue is resolved quickly and fairly.
“We are carrying out an in-depth investigation to establish the precise circumstances of this complex incident and will be in direct contact with the owners as soon as possible.”