/ Money, Shopping

Should we bother with gift vouchers anymore?

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?

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’.


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 )

R.Curtis2010 says:
5 November 2012

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!!! 🙁


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!

RCurtis2010 says:
7 November 2012

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!! 🙂


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.


Fantastic news! I hope you and the kids have a great Christmas 🙂

RCurtis2010 says:
7 November 2012

You have a grrr Xmas to and thanks again 🙂


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.

chris garrigan says:
6 November 2012

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


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.


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.


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