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Did you have a gift voucher expire during lockdown?

Some retailers extended gift cards that customers couldn’t spend during lockdown, but others weren’t so generous. Did you have one that expired?

In the run-up to Christmas last year, we warned readers that buying gift vouchers as presents was risky.

Obviously, we had no idea that the national lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 around the world would make them even riskier. 

With shops and restaurants closed and most events cancelled between March and July, many vouchers were rendered useless.

Guide: your rights with gift vouchers and cards

Time ticked on, and many worried as their vouchers reached their expiry dates.

Extending expiry dates

Usually these expiry dates are non-negotiable, and they can catch people out at the best of times.

But this year, many firms have recognised that people haven’t been able to spend them in the allotted time – so they’ve been in touch to extend them.

Sadly this wasn’t the case across the board, with many consumers left out of pocket by vouchers that weren’t extended. 

Tell us your story

We want to hear from you about your lockdown voucher experiences. 

If you had a voucher that expired during lockdown, did you manage to get it extended? And if so, did you have to phone up to do it? 

Conversely, did you call up to extend your voucher, only to be told the expiry date was final?

Let us know in the comments. 

Comments
Gordon Sharples says:
27 March 2021

I had Nottcutts Garden vouchers. I was moving home before the lockdown which then didn’t happen and then lockdown happened. Once the first lockdown was eased I then moved house as had originally planned but sadly the vouchers expired August and December 2020. This was to the tune of £100. I asked for consideration and was informed that they were only extending for 2 months and in the interests of fairness couldn’t do anything else. It seems that companies should therefore deem this as a charitable donation as we have received zero service or product in return. I had previously supported my local garden centre but this experience has really made me have a change of heart.

The message coming through this Conversation is to always spend vouchers as soon as possible after receipt. Companies are under no obligation to extend their availability.

There has been double jeopardy this last year or two with the economic recession leading to the cessation of trading by retailers and the Covid-19 lockdowns compelling the temporary closure of outlets.

The special problem with garden centres is that much of the stock and products are seasonal and so people sometimes need to keep vouchers for some months before they can spend them. There is a case for saying that, where there is a government-directed lockdown, the validity of any vouchers should be paused for those numbers of weeks and the cumulative total added to the expiry date. I appreciate that this could make for accounting difficulties with accruals but it must be possible for the accountancy profession to work out a practice direction to cover this contingency.

Gordon Sharples says:
9 April 2021

Would the companies have to disclose this as a charitable donation as receipt of vouchers is only an acceptance that funds are to be spent. If they are not how would this have to be accounted?

Kevinlong115@hitmail.com says:
28 March 2021

Argos do not extend expiry dates and do not give money back on expired cards. Found it difficult to use gift card online and shop only open for collection. I have lost £40 so far and have another voucher which expires nxt month. I am a 70 year old and have a husband with COPD so going out too often is detrimental to his health.

W Hereford says:
30 March 2021

We had an HTA Garden Voucher it had been activated in 2018 but did not expire until February 2021. As we were able to go out to a garden centre today I hoped to spend my £25 balance only to be told by the Card Support that they were unable to extend it. This is grossly unfair as the HTA have our friends money, it was a special gift but we are forced to lose it because they are being intransigent. I will not be buying a HTA ever again.

Had holiday vouchers to use by june 2020 by loyalty scheme from MKM builers merchants but due to pandemic unable to use. I called loyalty scheme in April 2020band was told the vouchers were being extended due to covid but no date was given. So i tried to use them this February(2021) but was told expired on dec 2020 without any correspondence from them trlling it was expring on that date. Made various calls and emails and finally got response saying voichers will not be hounured as i had time to book holidays. Sorry but where can you go during a pandemic and knowing if you did book someyhong it epuld be cancelled. Im at lose end regarding this and really annoyed with way ive been treated as this was supposed to be a loyalty bonus. Not a good word to say about MKM and love to shop vouchers as every email or phone call i make just gets shoved under carpet.