Squir­relling away with hamp­sta

Central Leader - - News -

Ex­pe­ri­enced busi­ness­man Mike Mor­ton has re­vealed his soft side.

The new owner of the Mad Butcher was so an­gry at watch­ing his cus­tomers run into debt prob­lems over Christ­mas he vowed to do some­thing about it.

And he was fu­ri­ous when he re­alised how many peo­ple were pay­ing for ham­per schemes that weren’t value for money.

His so­lu­tion is hamp­sta – a Christ­mas sav­ings card that of­fers an easy yet se­cure way for peo­ple to save for Christ­mas.

“Some of th­ese ham­per deals are just rip-offs, with peo­ple pay­ing huge money for prod­ucts that have huge mark-ups,” Mr Mor­ton says.

“You end up see­ing peo­ple pay­ing up to 200 per­cent more for ham­per items you can get in store for much less.

“It was just rip­ping peo­ple off and we couldn’t sit back and do noth­ing.”

The hamp­sta card al­lows peo­ple to save reg­u­lar small amounts to spend as they wish at a range of stores over De­cem­ber and Jan­uary. In year one, that in­cludes the Mad Butcher and Liquor­land.

Hamp­sta gen­eral man­ager Gary Al­ways says the card can be used by the owner for what they want, rather than what ham­per sup­pli­ers want to put in be­cause they got it cheap.

“With hamp­sta you’ll be able to en­joy Christ­mas without wor­ry­ing about go­ing into the New Year with a credit card loaded with debt.”

Fam­ily Bud­get­ing Ser­vices says ev­ery year af­ter Christ­mas it gets an in­flux of peo­ple need­ing ad­vice.

“We rec­om­mend peo­ple save through­out the year for Christ­mas,” head Raewyn Fox says.

Tra­di­tion­ally ham­pers have pro­moted sav­ing in ad­vance for Christ­mas but Con- sumer ad­vises peo­ple to find al­ter­na­tives, while a Bri­tish re­port found the col­lapse of a ham­per scheme there left peo­ple more than $100 mil­lion out of pocket.

“Let’s face it, the peo­ple in ham­per schemes can’t af­ford to lose their money,” Mr Mor­ton says.

“It’s es­sen­tial money be pro­tected so un­der hamp­sta it will be kept safe by the Pub­lic Trust un­til it is used.”

Hamp­sta, which has a $35 join­ing fee, is the only Christ­mas sav­ings plan in New Zealand that of­fers that se­cu­rity.

Two ma­jor re­tail­ers, The Mad Butcher and Liquor­land, are al­ready back­ing hamp­sta, so from this year, par­tic­i­pants will be able to buy meat and bev­er­ages on their cards.

Liquor­land gen­eral man­ager Brett Wil­son says sales in De­cem­ber are twice as high as in other months.

Pur­chases of meat fol­low a sim­i­lar pat­tern, with The Mad Butcher turnover up al­most 60 per­cent in De­cem­ber.

Founder Peter Leitch says he of­ten sees the stress on his cus­tomers face at Christ­mas.

“Hamp­sta helps you be pre­pared. If you saved just $20 a week from now you’d have about $200 to spend by the mid­dle of De­cem­ber.

“It doesn’t mat­ter when you de­cide to start sav­ing, ev­ery lit­tle bit helps.”

By next year, hamp­sta aims to have one re­tailer in ev­ery ma­jor re­tail sec­tor aligned to the hamp­sta card pro­gramme.

Peo­ple can pick up a hamp­sta ap­pli­ca­tion pack from any Mad Butcher or Liquor­land store or at www.hamp­sta. co.nz or by phon­ing 0508-4267782.

Merry Christ­mas: The Mad Butcher Peter Leitch says debt doesn’t have to ruin Christ­mas.

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