Owner of historic Turkish baths in Sheffield issues message to customers awaiting refunds
Disappointed customers say they are still waiting for refunds promised by the owner of a historic Turkish baths in Sheffield, which has now been put up for sale.
Former staff at Spa 1877 in Sheffield city centre, meanwhile, are taking the owner to employment tribunal amid claims they were not paid what they were owed when the business closed suddenly.
But the owner, Steve Wilkinson, insisted any customers still awaiting refunds would get their money back, and he said he was contesting the tribunal claim ‘because the facts as set out are wrong’.
Spa 1877 on Victoria Street, which was once part of the Glossop Road Baths, closed with immediate effect on September 5, with Mr Wilkinson blaming controversial bus gates on Glossop Road for loss of revenue.
At the time, Mr Wilkinson said he would inform everyone who had made deposits or bought gift vouchers how to get their money back and said he expected to be in a position the following week to ‘let everyone know what is happening’.
No update has been forthcoming on the spa’s website, however, and customers who were owed money said their calls and emails had gone unanswered.
The venue went on the market this month, with offers above £695,000 being invited for what agent Mark Jenkinson and Son called a ‘one-off opportunity to buy a one-off building’.
Adele Gervis, of Wincobank, told how her husband bought her a £95 voucher in July.
“It’s a lot of money and I’ve tried ringing and emailing but I’ve not had any response,” added the 38-year-old mother of two, who works as a hairdresser.
“When I saw they were trying to sell the property that caused a bit of concern. It’s not very nice the way they’ve treated customers.”
Kirsten Howells, of Catcliffe, paid a £50 deposit by debit card when she booked a birthday treat for a friend, which as due to take place days after the spa closed.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was up for sale,” said the 45-year-old, who runs her own PR and marketing consultancy firm.
“I think customers have been very patient after he told us to bear with him but when I sought a refund through HSBC I was told I couldn’t get my money back as you have to make a claim within 120 days.
“I must have called the spa at least four times and filled in the email contact form twice but I’ve yet to even receive an acknowledgement.
“When you see the owner swanning around trying to sell it and talking about how there are ghosts in the building it makes you a bit angry to think how many people are still out of pocket.”
While some customers have been able to claim refunds through their credit card providers, it appears there is little option for those who paid by cash or debit card other than to wait for a refund or to pursue their case through the small claims court, which can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Some people have also claimed that staff, who were given no notice about the closure, had not been received the redundancy payments to which they were entitled.
A group claim has been lodged against The Sheffield Bath Company, which ran the spa, but the full details of that claim are not yet known.
Mr Wilkinson repeated his assurance that anyone who is still awaiting a refund would be reimbursed.
“Most customers have made claims on their credit cards and other customers have contacted me direct and I have told them I will refund them ASAP,” he said.
“The staff launched an early group employment tribunal claim in mid-October. I have to defend it because the facts as set out are wrong but I can’t comment further as this is now a legal matter.”
He advised anyone affected to keep their voucher and/or receipt and to write to the Spa 1877, 67 Victoria Street, Sheffield S3 7QD or to email [email protected], and he said he had been ‘replying to as many as I can and explaining the situation’.
“I said from the outset that I would refund everyone, and nothing has changed apart from the timing,” he added.
“I respect the fact that a lot of customers have been very loyal over the years and I am personally very upset at the way I had to close the spa.”
The baths, which date back to the 1800s, had reopened as Spa 1877 in 2004, following a £2 million restoration.