STAFF and customers are counting the cost of the Border Cars collapse, with one woman paying a deposit of more than £4,000 for a car that never arrived.

The long-established dealership employed more than 300 people at sites in Workington, Carlisle, and Scotland.

But workers and some customers have been left out of pocket after the firm’s owner Mike Fusco confirmed that it would have to cease trading because of “tough retail climate” and rising costs.

Those affected include Whitehaven woman Elizabeth Radcliffe, who fears she has lost the £4,300 down-payment she made on a Honda CVR car..

“I’ve gone beyond crying,” said Elizabeth, 55.

She told how on June 29 she was persuaded by staff at the Lillyhall branch of Border Cars in Workington to pay the deposit on the car they wanted by bank transfer.

She and her husband Edward, 62, were part-exchanging their Toyota Auris for the Honda because Edward, 62, had a foot problem and needed an automatic car, said Elizabeth.

But when they went to collect the new £10,000 Honda CVR a week later they were told they could not have it. Elizabeth, of Irt Avenue, Whitehaven, said: “I asked them what they meant by that.

“I told them that I’d paid for it: it was my car.

“They told me they were having difficulty with the bank, and I asked them what that had to do with me. I told them I wanted my car or I wanted my money back.”

Over the days that followed, Elizabeth made numerous phone calls to Border Cars but continued to get nowhere with getting her money back and felt fobbed off.

So she went up to the Border Cars HQ at Dumfries to confront Mr Fusco. She said: “I waited two hours. They told me he wasn’t in. He eventually turned up and talked to me. He said that if he could write me a cheque he would, but he couldn’t.

“I said: ‘Don’t tell me that people here didn’t know what was going on before I bought my car. He asked if I knew who he was.”Elizabeth is now planning to contact a solicitor.

She added: “It’s made me sick to the stomach. Every other car I’ve ever bought I paid for with a bank card. If I hadn’t agreed to the bank transfer, I’d have been protected. What they’ve done is disgusting.”

A former Border Cars worker from Carlisle said he’d heard nothing from the firm since an email confirming he was being made redundant.

“There are a lot of staff owed a lot of money,” said the man, who is owed around £2,000 in unpaid wages.

He believed former staff must claim unpaid wages through the government. Border Cars was unvailable for comment. The firm’s administration is in the hands of Glasgow based audit and advisory firm BDO.