Squirrelling away with hampsta
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.