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Clerics get shirty as website goes bust

22 November 2013


In stock: an image from the new Clergy Collar website

In stock: an image from the new Clergy Collar website

SEVERAL clergy have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after a clerical clothing company went bankrupt.

Five ministers from across the UK have contacted the Church Times to report that items they ordered online from either Clergy Collar, or its associated website the Clergy Shirt Club, have not arrived.

A non-stipendiary minister at St Mary's, Portchester, the Revd Julie Jones, said that she bought four shirts, costing almost £60, from the Clergy Shirt Club; but despite the money leaving her account, the shirts never arrived.

"I even got an invoice once I made the order, and then, a week later, an email to say my order was complete," she said. "I contacted the courier to see if they had my order, but they knew nothing. I am totally embarrassed that I have been involved in this."

The assistant curate of Tettenhall Regis, near Wolverhampton, the Revd Simon Douglas, spent £45 last month on two shirts which were never delivered. "I had an email confirmation, and then nothing," he said. "I rang him up, and he offered to send them again, or give me a refund." More than five days after asking for a refund, however, Mr Douglas said that he had yet to get any of his money back.

Clergy Collar also sold a £250 silver communion set to the Vicar of of St Thomas's and of St John the Baptist's in Newport, Isle of Wight, the Revd Kevin Arkell. "I had a curate who was being ordained; so we decided to give her a home communion set," Mr Arkell said. "I ordered one from Clergy Collar, but nothing appeared. Just after I had given up, a pewter set arrived, but I had ordered a really high-quality silver-plated set."

When Mr Arkell spoke to Richard Collings, who had registered both the Clergy Collar and Clergy Shirt Club websites, he denied all knowledge of the companies.

Mr Collings told the Church Times, however, that the two websites were run by his wife, but had gone bust. "There are a small percentage of orders that were not fulfilled. But as far as I'm aware the customers would have been protected by their credit cards." He said that the company could not refund any of the customers because there was no money left. "It has to be the customers [who suffer]. That's what happens when a business folds," Mr Collings said. "There will be suppliers and customers who lose out. But, as far as I'm concerned, it was not them who lost out but Visa."

One of the main suppliers to Clergy Collar, Reliant Shirts, said that the company had been trading for about five years, but had got into trouble earlier this year. A manager, Niall Arnold, said: "We were dispatching shirts to Clergy Collar, but it seemed nothing was being dispatched on. Payment for orders was being taken, but there was no further communication. I still can't quite understand why the back orders would not have been sent out."

The Clergy Shirt Club website states that the firm is closing down; and that Clergy Collar has now been sold and is under new management. The new owners told the Church Times that they had nothing to do with Mr Collings, and that Reliant are still supplying shirts to the new Clergy Collar.

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