I have no reason to start or continue a vendetta against Kerri Allman, Hipknits. Yarn Forward or its multitude of reincarnations. I have lost no money to any of these companies and suffered only inconvenience at their hands. But that was 4 or 5 years ago so have deliberately ensured that I don’t cross their paths again. Unfortunately there would appear to be loads of knitters out there who didn’t read the warnings or chose to ignore them.
Ravelry is full of threads discussing the ‘shortcomings’, for want of a better word, of this organisation. And it always saddens me to read the stories unfolding because they’re identical to ones I’ve read before.
The discussion generally starts with someone saying how they’d placed an order for yarn perhaps and 6 months later, after assurances that the order had been sent, often more than once (as the first despatch had ‘disappeared’ somewhere in the Post Office) and then complete silence from one of these companies, no yarn had yet arrived. Or the poster has sold a pattern to one of the magazines and, despite many assurances of the cheque being in the post, no money had been received. And because of the long lead-time in publishing, the designer has often already submitted more designs and is therefore concerned that she won’t be paid for any of them.
The poster asks if anyone else is having problems. And the floodgates open. Stories from all over the world of lost packages and unanswered correspondence or phone calls. Because the buyers have believed the assurances often over many months (18 months was the longest I heard of), they’re too late to make claims on Paypal if that was their method of payment.
This all eventually gets to the ears of Kerrie who pops up with apologies and excuses. She’s moved offices (many times), her staff have left (she probably holds the record for the largest staff turnover in the UK), her server has been down (but this hasn’t stopped her from posting on her personal blog). If the complaints are in a Ravelry group that she moderates, she deletes them. Then she starts to complain that she’s being persecuted. And eventually, certainly in the current case, she claims to be receiving death threats. Now even I would say that those sorts of threats are a tad over the top – IF THEY’RE TRUE. But I remember stories of death threats a couple of years ago and the cynic in me thinks perhaps this is just a ploy to garner sympathy – and to a certain extent it works with some of her gullible groupies.
I’ve now been able to read the liquidator’s report into her company, KAL Media, which went into voluntary liquidation in June 2011. She’s currently trading through another company, All Craft Media, whose sole Director is Kerrie’s husband. At the end of January 2010, KAL had liabilities of 126,000 pounds, about 6 times the size of its assets. By the time of liquidation, the company’s losses stood at 201,000, even after inflating the assets by 15,200 for ‘goodwill’ (particularly laughed at that one – what goodwill? And if there’s so much goodwill in her company’s name, why does she keep changing the name of the knitting magazine. It’s about to have another name change).
These figures would lead me to believe that the company was trading while insolvent – ie its liabilities exceeded its assets and it was entering into contracts with suppliers and designers in the full knowledge that there were no funds to pay them. This is illegal and I believe removes the ‘cloak’ of limited liability from the directors. I do hope someone takes this up with Companies House in the UK.
If you’re a member of Ravelry and would like to access all the threads that have been started about this woman since Ravelry started, you can go here. There’s a list at the top of the page. And if you’re owed money, however little, DO submit a claim to the liquidator. You’re unlikely to get any money back but this will show the full extent of the debts and, anyway, why make things easy for this company? If you haven’t got the claim form, feel free to leave me a message and I’ll send it to you. Similarly, if you’d like to read the liquidator’s report, I’ll happily email it to you. If you’re a member of the current sock club and aren’t getting what you were promised, and you’re in the UK, go to the local Trading Standards Office. And tell them that you’re aware of many complaints being lodged with them around the country.
And if you have a blog, write about this. Please let’s make sure that we never read another Ravelry thread starting: “Does anyone know anything about Knit Magazine? I had a design published in their ? issue and haven’t yet been paid”