Should we bother with gift vouchers anymore?

by , Digital Producer Consumer Rights 5 November 2012
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As another big retailer – this time Comet – goes into administration, many gift voucher holders could be out-of-pocket. Is it time we turned our backs on gift vouchers and gift cards?

Store closing down

Vouchers are often no longer accepted when a retailer goes bust. And that’s even if the store continues to trade while the administrators do their work. Such is the case with Comet, which is no longer accepting gift vouchers as a form of payment, though its administrators are ‘reviewing this position urgently’.

What are your Comet gift voucher rights?

So what can you do with your Comet gift vouchers? Not much it seems, which is why it’s best to spend vouchers as quickly as possible when a store is rumoured to be going bust.

It’s the same story if the voucher or gift card was bought from a third-party retailer, such as a supermarket. Unfortunately you still don’t have a right to a refund or compensation from either retailer, which seems doubly unfair.

Why should we lose out after being given a voucher by a kind relative, or even by a shop assistant? What seems especially grating is that even if a retailer is still trading, you often can’t use your vouchers once the administrators are in place. Is that fair?

If you do have Comet vouchers, keep hold of them for now just in case the administrators decide to start accepting them again or any new owner decides to honour them as a gesture of good will.

What are your rights with faulty goods?

According to its website, Comet is planning a closing down sale. However, even if you were allowed to use your gift vouchers in the sale, there’s another problem waiting around the corner. You’ll effectively lose your usual rights under the Sale of Goods Act. This is because if a product develops a fault or isn’t fit for purpose, there won’t be a retailer to return your product to.

You will get protection from the manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee, but this is only for a set period of time (usually one to two years for electrical items). However, the Sale of Goods Act has the potential to offer protection beyond that.

One silver lining with Comet is that if you bought an extended warranty (which is not something we’d usually advise) it is provided by a separate company. The Warranty Group, which offered extended warranties for Comet, is unaffected and will continue to offer repairs.

Chargeback and claims against card companies

There are some other avenues you can explore if your Comet purchase is faulty. If you bought something that cost more than £100 on your credit card, you’ll be able to claim against your card company if your item turns out to be faulty.

And, in theory, you could use chargeback if the payment was made with a debit card (or a credit card for purchases under £100). However, this isn’t always successful since it’s dependent on your bank being able to grab back payment from the seller’s bank.

So, do you think there’s any value left in store vouchers? What’s in it for us consumers if we don’t have any rights? Have you been left with a voucher you can’t use after a retailer has gone bust?

[UPDATE 07/11/2012] – Comet’s administrators have announced that gift vouchers purchased by members of the public can now be used in stores again, recognising that the ‘suspension of gift cards has caused concern and anxiety to those customers affected’.

48 comments

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William

As someone who almost couldn’t spend £750 of Woolworth’s vouchers I think they should be banned as this sort of story will only happen again. Otherwise the law needs changing to put voucher/gift card holders at the front of the creditor list.

(Luckily after £750 of chocolate I wasn’t scared for life )

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R.Curtis2010

We bought 2 ipad3′s as Xmas gifts for the kids. When apple announced the retina ipad I returned the ipad3′s. the credit was put on a gift card. Shops closed on day new iPads released! Went to store on sat 3rd nov only to be told gift cards not accepted. £878 lost! No Xmas for my kids!! Devastated doesn’t even come close!!! :-(

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tpoots

That’s a terrible series of events! Feeling bad for you and the kids!

We’re hearing tonight that the Comet administrators say they’ll accept Comet vouchers bought by the public. Worth getting down there asap to spend any value on your card / vouchers. Good luck and do let us know how you get on!

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RCurtis2010

I am absolutely landed to report I’ve been to comet at 9am and picked up 2 x retina iPads and paid for them wiv my gift card!! Phew!
thanks to Martin Saville for Letting me know last night they we’re being accepted again – that’s a weight off my mind and 2 exatacic children Christmas Day!
Thank god that’s over!! :-)

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william

I wish they’d update their website to reflect this fact … As its still saying

I have a Comet Gift Card, is this still valid?
The Administrators are currently considering the position in relation to gift cards and gift vouchers and at this stage they cannot be used to pay for items. The Administrators are reviewing this position urgently.

Taken from :

http://storage.comet.co.uk/www/splash/html/questions.htm#1

Fantastic news! I hope you and the kids have a great Christmas :-)

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RCurtis2010

You have a grrr Xmas to and thanks again :-)

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wavechange

I was already fed-up with gift vouchers. A benefit of my Lloyds TSB credit cards was that I could use points collected to buy £50 worth of gift vouchers for £45. Thanks to a death in the family I forgot about a stock of Kingfisher vouchers. By the time I discovered that I had them, Comet was no longer part of Kingfisher and B&Q refused to take them. Lloyds-TSB would not replace them. My carelessness cost me £200.

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chris garrigan

intending to purchase a replacement fridge i converted natwest points to house of fraser vouchers only to find that they were not accepted to purchase white goods.
i am still waiting after a month to speak to a ‘manager ‘ at house of fraser to discuss this.
natwest kindly exchanged the vouchers for curry’s vouchers
this time i checked both with their customer services and ‘in store’ that they would be accepted to purchase a fridge provided i did so instore.
after a 45 mile trip into inverness i was curtly told by the manager that when goods were ordered ‘direct’ from the manufacturer that vouchers were not accepted.
i wrote to natwest recounting my lack of success and sugesting that they look into this as it appeared that their website was innaccurate ,to say the least.
although my points have been recredited to my account i have recieved no communication from natwest ,despite phoning and been promised a phone call from management.
needless to say i am reviewing my credit card provider.
also vouchers are a waste of space

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william

Further to my earlier comment, I’d be happy to allow vouchers/gift cards to stay as long as they personally backed ( for life ) by the CEO/Managing Director of the issuing company. And they follow said individual when he moved jobs. Otherwise ban them.

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tpoots

I think gift vouchers were traditionally a very good way of giving a present to someone who needed some money towards a particular item, or were tricky to buy for. Now, given today’s turbulent economy, they have become a risk especially if you’re buying them well in advance of giving them to the person concerned. I remember when Woolies looked like it was about to go down, many people got their Christmas gift cards early in the hope they could get there and spend before the administrators were bought in.

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wavechange

I know I’m going to upset nfh, but perhaps cheques are the answer.

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william

Cash, the universally accepted gift card/voucher. Very unlikely the BoE will stop accepting ( although not guaranteed for life, especially in the current climate )

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attwe_k

Avoid KGB Deals vouchers. The voucher wasn’t honoured by the merchant and the customer services is unhelpful/ none-existant.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

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Geoff

why buy vouchers for a particular shop at all ?
A civilised Greetings Card and some crisp £ notes to spent anywhere, even in the Sales.
( a nice touch is to add two travel tickets to the nearest big town, ‘take a friend’)

Points vouchers are a different story of course ….

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Sophie Gilbert

Doing away with all gift vouchers would be a knee jerk reaction, wouldn’t it?

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wavechange

It would, and is unlikely to happen quickly. Nevertheless, it is good for us all to be aware of potential problems.

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william

I for one have been wishing away gift cards/vouchers since 2008, nothing knee jerk in that. I’d happily change my stance if they were given higher priority in the event of a crash. And comet’s change of heart wouldn’t have helped me, all my vouchers were corporate ones, used by my ex company as a sweetener for poor pay rises. Comet still aren’t accepting those. I’d also be surprised if comet accept love2shop vouchers too, as your not buying them from comet but a 3rd party who will bulk buy which is were there make their money. ( They pay around £85 per £100 of vouchers)

And since cash ( the universally accepted voucher ) is one of the payment methods accepted by dying companies what’s the point of vouchers.

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JGH1

Traders should be obliged to provide customers with a prior wealth warning for vouchers that are not covered by credit insurance. Coulkd Which? try to negotiate a protocol with retail organisations or propose an EU directive?

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Louise McDaid - Chai

Comet is one of many – Peacocks, JJB Sports, La Senza, Ethel Austin (4 Times!!!!) D2 just to name a few who have gone into administration. Those who prepaid by buying a Voucher/Gift Card became Unsecured Creditors. As a Farepak Victim who lost £400 I will not touch them until Government looks into regulations that protects the Prepayment Industry.

Supermarket Savings schemes also are not protected and before anyone says that there is no way that one of the big four will go into administration – remember Northern Rock.

The protection of our money should not be voluntary but mandatory.

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debs

I think its outrageous that big business is pretty much allowed to do as they please and its always the consumer that is left high and dry and without a legal leg to stand on. You would think in 2012 protection would come as standard for all of us. Some stores have gone into administration more than once and each time the vouchers and gift cards are the first thing that get refused at the checkout. These vouchers should be treated as cash. They are not a loan they are a prepaid item and to carry no protection is in all honesty outrageous. Should they be scrapped? Well if they cannot protect them the simple answer is yes definately

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william

@debs, You’re not entirely accurate about them being pre-paid, If you or I or anyone else goes into a store and buys vouchers then yes, but the problem is there are companies out there who buy vouchers in bulk and then sell them on, and I suspect these “corporate” vouchers will pay an invoice at say the end of a month. So as far as the store is concerned they’ve not yet been paid any money for these vouchers should they be presented before any invoice is paid. Hence Comet’s current stance of only accepting vouchers bought by the public and not corporate versions of the same thing. Hence my frequent questions about will Love2shop vouchers be accepted and anyone who gets vouchers via company benefit schemes.

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rarrar

It is unfortunate that many people are finding out , again, that voucher, tokens, credit notes and promissory notes are and always have been only as good as the financial status of the company or organisation behind them.
They often have conditions of usage attached to them and many have an expiry date..
While bank notes , backed by the Bank of England, may be considered safe anything else should be considered risky.
Consumers should move back to giving cash rather than vouchers as presents etc.

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Louise McDaid - Chai

A friend who went into Comet with a Love2Shop voucher was told she could not spend it. Which I found a little confusing. Why would Comet refuse this voucher? This is money for them not like their own Vouchers – maybe someone could explain?

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william

I’m guessing there’s likely to be quite a lead time between taking a love2shop voucher, presenting them to whoever they would do, and then wait for the invoice to be paid. And the administrators just want money NOW, without the extra “hassle” in trying to get money from whoever.

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debs

@william
I take on board what you have said, however for the consumer who has bought a voucher or worse still as with the love to shop vouchers they have take all year to save that money and then they take the risk on the store staying open. How could you possibly know of the store is going to still be trading year later? As Louise has stated love to shop was turned away from comet, why? Love to shop hasn’t gone under comet has so in effect they refused a perfectly good sale. Stay away from vouchers that my oppinion

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wavechange

It is vital that all gift vouchers are clearly marked with the expiry date and this should not be in tiny print. It would be good if expired gift vouchers could be replaced with valid vouchers subject to a handling fee, in the same way as cheques can.

I have today received reprinted Tesco Clubcard vouchers that are due to expire soon. It’s not often I say anything positive about Tesco, but I am very grateful and will send my thanks.

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tanya

can i still use love to shop vouchers

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william

Probably not in Comet. They’ve now updated their website see details on here

http://storage.comet.co.uk/www/splash/html/vouchers.htm

before they update it again

AND FYI their front page is saying SALE starts 9am thursday 8th

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Nichola DAvies

i have got high street vouchers and a flexecash card are comet accepting these again now as i was hoping to purchase things for the children or xmas ??

Can someone please advise me, many thanks

NIchola

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samira

Stupid comet are refusing to accept my £1000 credit voucher!!! Which they issued after delivering faulty goods. When they picked up the items and said they would replace them, the item was damaged. Which was my LED tv… The delivery men smashed the screen. As a result, they issued a credit voucher. I really regret not spending the voucher! Since the news of comet going into administration I’ve done all I can… Contacted the head office… Visited the stores when it was announced that they were accepting vouchers I went to comet at 8 am … Only to be turned away.

Don’t know what to do now :(

Any advice guys!?

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debs

Samira, I am so sorry to hear of this. Its disgusting the way you have been treated, my advice would be to contact the Administrator direct ask for the full name of the person you are speaking to and then ask for the conversation in writing to be emailed to you Toto prove that you have spoken to someone from the Administration. Morally they should at least replace the tv, however its been our experience with Administration that once the firm has gone to the receivers the gift cards or vouchers are the first thing to go. Its so unfair and it needs to be re-addressed by the Government so the consumer has better protection. I hope I am wrong and you do have a right to your goods, but I have an awful feeling your what they call an unsecured creditor. Meaning your at the end of the queue when the dividend payments are issued which can take years and are always only a fraction of what you lost. Best of luck with this Samira, I hope it gets resolved for you. But try the Administrator first you should finds out who they are online. Best of luck x

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debs

Samira, it is a Mr Neville Kahn that is one of the Administrators and the firm is Deloitte. If you go on there website they have an online form to email them. Sorry but I couldn’t find a phone number but you could try that to start with

Hello Samira, did you have any luck spending your vouchers after Comet started accepting them again? Perhaps you can get something good in their sale: http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/comet-massive-liquidation-sale-fire-discounts-disappointing/

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Graeme George

We have just purchased an ex display printer from Comet. When we opened the box, we have found it missing the cradle and so the printer will not work. Are we within our rights to go and request a refund in this situation? It has not been sold as faulty.

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debs

I would have thought that ex display or not you were sold the printer as a working item. I would go back and explain the situation even if they cannot refund your cash I would expect an exchange to a working model. Its worth going back in any case as you have nothing to lose by returning to the store.

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Jo

So what happens if I have gift vouchers worth £1700 issued by my insurance company in April with a years use! We were broken into earlier in the year and had our insurance pay out in Comet Vouchers, we were waiting until our kitchen is complete to spend on urgent applicances. Now not only have we been broken into – our goods to the value off hasn’t been spent! Fuming. Do I have any rights? If so who do I go to?

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wavechange

I suggest you contact the insurance company and explain the problem. Best of luck.

Hello Jo, sounds like an interesting case. Would you be able to email us with more information including the name of the insurer to: http://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us Thanks.

A few people have asked about returning goods and refunds. I thought I’d just share again what your rights are. If goods are faulty, the company would be in breach of contract – however you can’t take action against a company that’s in administration. Even if you could, if the company goes into liquidation they wouldn’t be around to meet any judgement and your claim would sit along side those of other creditors. In practice you’d need to look at a Section 75 claim (if paid on credit card) if possible or a claim on the manufacturer’s guarantee: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/sale-of-goods/your-rights-when-paying-by-credit-card/consumer-credit-act-1974/

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wavechange

I am very hesitant to purchase anything in Comet’s closing down sale.

The manufacturer’s guarantee is the only option if the item costs under £100, but would it be better to pursue a claim via the credit card company or the manufacturer in the case of more expensive items?

I have no experience of claims involving a credit card company, but manufacturers seem just as good as retailers at avoiding their responsibilities.

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Jill pater

I was having a clear out and found £15.00 worth of kingfisher voucher for B&Q, comet, MVC,super drug and Woolworth. Am I right in thinking they are worthless and just throw them away.

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wavechange

I have £185 worth of the same vouchers, which I mislaid. I found them after Woothworth closed and no-one would accept them. I was unable to get a refund or replacement with current vouchers. There is no expiry date.

The reason I have all these vouchers is because Lloyds TSB offered them at a 10% discount in exchange for points collected by using their credit cards.

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Debs

Before you throw them out check to see if there is a ‘sell by date’ or a ‘use by date’. I know that sounds rediculous but ALL VOUCHERS carry a use by date!! I have £20 note in my purse that has been there for 7 years and it dosen’t have a use by date!! Superdrug and B&Q are still trading so as long as the dates are OK and bear in mind it could be in micro print you should still be able to use them in either of the 2 stores. Hope this helps, let us know how you get on

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Jill pater

I did try at B & Q this week but they would not accept them, and I check there is no use by date.

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william

Those “kingfisher” vouchers I was told were administered by Woolworths when all three companies were part of the Kingfisher group. I think the only place that is still likely to “accept” them is the Woolworths administrators although I doubt you’ll have any better luck with them, but good luck in any case.

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jjr

bought a fridge off comet the fridge said total no frost which was untrue comet sent a repair man out five times within the twelve months guarante but still is frosting ,its now two years now from the purchase date so i am wondering as i ve complained and fridge was faulty from day one and within 12 months should comet replace or refund me on this?

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