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Cash strapped coupon hunters highjack charity event

coinsA baking event designed to raise money for sufferers of the debilitating disease, Multiple Sclerosis, has nearly ended in disaster, as desperate shoppers piggy-backed a discount offer intended for fundraisers.

Vouchers offering a reduction in the price of baking goods, lowering the cost from around 85p to just 5p a pack, were circulated on websites, with supermarkets being deluged with requests.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society manage to raise much needed money from an annual baking event which relies on the generous nature of supporters to take part in the Cake Break event. Participants either make a cake or other baked goodies to sell to friends, family and relatives, in order to raise money for the charity.

This year’s annual Cake Break was due to be held on May 4th and was very generously being sponsored by family firm, Wright’s Bakers. The company had offered to reduce the price of their bread and cake mixture packs, enabling those raising money for the charity to buy them for just 5p.

Vouchers entitling the individual to the hefty discount were distributed with the fundraising pack sent out by the MS Society but, somehow, these vouchers made it out into the general public. And as word spread, a frenzy began, with determined bargain hunters snapping up multiple packs to keep them going quite literally for months.

Some entrepreneurial individuals even went as far as selling the coupons on Ebay.

Once the MS Society and Wright’s got wind of what was happening, they moved quickly to retract the offer and said that all coupons would now no longer be honoured. Describing the scam as ‘fraudulent abuse,’ the partnership confirmed that the scheme had been cancelled in ‘its entirety,’ leaving honest fundraisers to pay the full price to give the charity a helping hand.

Around 2,000 packs have already been sent out by the MS Society, but it says that no more will go until it works out a way to make it clear that the vouchers can no longer be used.

However, in the meantime, despite the insistence that the discount is no longer available, some sources were suggesting that big supermarkets were still accepting the coupons without question. The coupons had spread to hundreds of specialist sites, many of which were still displaying the deal as active. In some threads, users were urging others to take advantage by posting photos of goodies they had baked at practically no cost.

Wrights is the last operational miller in London and its history can be traced all the way back to the Domesday Book. It is a rare anomaly; a small business in a sector driven by large miller corporations. Its current owner, David Wright, is the great, great, grandson of the 1867 founder and was apparently extremely upset by scheming individuals taking advantage of the firm’s generosity.

Wrights are currently pursuing numerous websites which are still advertising the fraudulent offer and asking them to delete the coupon. It has also tracked down 11 sellers on Ebay and requested that they stop the auctions immediately. Whilst most have complied, one seller has refused to back down.

Debbie Gaffney, who works for Wrights, said the money off vouchers had been ‘cruelly pilfered’ and said that the experience had demonstrated to her exactly how ‘broke’ much of the country is.

Although the vouchers can no longer be used, the Multiple Sclerosis Society is still pressing ahead with their planned Cake Break and hopes that this year’s venture will raise more funds for sufferers, despite the problems they have experienced with the exploitation of the vouchers.

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