/ 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’.

Graeme George says:
10 November 2012

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.

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.

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?

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: https://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/

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.

Jill pater says:
25 March 2013

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.

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.

Debs says:
25 March 2013

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

Jill pater says:
29 March 2013

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

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.

jjr says:
14 April 2013

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?

Pls I have £55 worth of kingfisher gift vouchers and wants to know if they are stil tenable in your stores.