You may have seen the news that WrapIt, the wedding gift list company, went into administration this week after its credit card takings were bonded by its bank.
Exactly the same scenario that happened to Red Letter Days in 2005 and Farepak in 2006.
In Red Letter Days' case, Barclays bonded £3million of the company's cash (as well as holding a further £1.25million in other security against their perceived contingent liability on experience vouchers purchased by credit card), causing a cashflow crisis which forced the company into administration.
12 months after the company crashed, the cost of fulfilling the vouchers claimed by customers (and bear in mind the media surrounding the collapse caused a huge run on vouchers) was less than £1.5million. The rest of the bonded money, instead of going to the company's creditors, went as a 'bonus' to the new owners of the company. This was a deal done by Barclays and the administrators which to my knowledge was never reported to the creditors.
The practice of 'bonding' a company's takings in the way that happened to RLD and Farepak and WrapIt will almost always certainly cause the business to fail. Its quite easy to see why the bank takes the action it does, justifying that it needs to protect itself in the event the company fails but this always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If we are to prevent similar business failures, the legality of the practice of 'bonding' should immediately be reviewed by DBERR. In my view bonding acts to make the bank a preferential creditor which I believe under current insolvency law is illegal.
If credit card facilities are extended to a company without bonding terms (effectively giving that company the ability to utilise revenue as working capital, upon which they will then base their financial forecasts) then banks simply should not be allowed to alter the terms of the agreement down the line, at least not without a minimum of 12 months' notice.