Dozens of people have been speaking of their disappointment after being left out of pocket by the sudden closure of Tideswell School of Food.
The cookery school announced its closure last week through a statement on its website, a move it said was down to financial difficulties.
But locals who had booked to attend courses there have now been left wondering how to get their money back, and have been unable to get hold of anyone to answer their queries.
Buxton’s Mike Goodchild, 32, was due to attend a French cooking course. He said: “My girlfriend bought me a voucher for Christmas so I used it book a course for November.
“I got an email on October 6 saying the company had ceased and the course was no longer running. It wasn’t received until late that night so I couldn’t contact anyone until the next day but the phone number they had is no longer in use.
“It’s almost as if they’ve gone off into the sunset with no explanation.
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been left out of pocket. All they did is email me a link about how to claim the money back on your debit or credit card but that doesn’t apply because it was paid for more than 120 days ago.”
Lorraine Booth added: “I’ve been trying to get hold of someone but had no joy. I’ve had the voucher since August because someone bought it me for my birthday and I was meant to be going on Saturday but I haven’t even heard anything from them.”
And Gina Dolan, who booked a course for her brother, said: “I fail to understand how these people have been allowed to get away with such bad management and the taking of people’s money.”
Neil Allcock, who runs Rushop Hall B&B, had two elderly guests staying with him last week as they were due to attend a course at the cookery school.
He said: “They travelled by car for five hours through horrendous weather and traffic conditions to honour their reservation with us, even though they had been told a few days before, via email, that the School of Food had no intention of honouring their booking. This, perhaps, says more about the honour and morals of the older generation than the lack of courtesy of those who sent the email and cynically sold a gift whilst knowing that the business was in dire straits.”
Pete Hawkins, chairman of community project Taste Tideswell, said: “The Tideswell School of Food was a small business set up to support the village of Tideswell. Like many new businesses cash flow has always been a challenge. After a slow summer of trading, we found ourselves in a difficult position so, with a team of advisors, looked for ways, to bring cash into the business to resolve this problem through sponsorship or grant funding.
“Unfortunately none of those proved viable and on Sunday October 5 the directors, after consulting with our accountant and other advisors took the decision to cease trading.
“The website shop was immediately taken offline and we stopped taking phone bookings. On Monday October 6 we told the staff that they were being made redundant with immediate effect.
“Since then the directors have been assessing what assets the business has and how we can best close the business down. This takes time, and at this stage, it is impossible to say what we can and can’t do by way of refunds for customers who have booked courses or bought vouchers.
“I fully understand that people are upset and angry; I am really sorry that this situation has arisen and suggest that they contact their credit card company for a refund. I can add nothing more at this stage.”