Camera store Jessops has closed its shops, while entertainment retailer HMV is in administration. It's terrible news for employees, creditors and suppliers, but it may not be all bad news for customers with unused gift cards and vouchers.
HMV has continued trading, but administrator Deloitte has announced that stores will no longer accept gift cards and vouchers.
Many thousands of gift cards were sold in the run-up to Christmas, leaving a lot of people potentially out of pocket. However, whether you hold a Jessops or HMV gift card/voucher, there are ways to potentially get some or all of your money back.
If you paid by credit card
If the gift card or voucher was bought by you or for you using a credit card, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act you can claim your money back. However, you must have spent at least £100, which probably rules out a lot of people.
These people can instead attempt to claim from the company that issued their card under the chargeback rule. You have 120 days from the date when you're aware there's a problem, which would be the dates when the chains went into administration – 9th January for Jessops and 14th January for HMV.
If you paid by debit card
If the gift card was bought by you or for you using a debit card, you could also pursue a claim under the chargeback rule. You need to contact the bank or building society that issued your card. You have 120 days from the date when you're aware there's a problem, which would be the dates when the chains went into administration – 9th January for Jessops and 14th January for HMV.
If you paid by cash or cheque
Unfortunately, cash and cheque purchases don't cover the same levels of protection as those made by card. You can write to the administrators but you'll be added to a list of creditors and may not get any of your money back. If you have a Jessops gift card or voucher, there's information on how to submit a claim on the Jessops website
If an HMV gift card was bought at Asda
Asda started selling HMV gift cards in November and has announced that it will switch the value of any HMV gift cards purchased at Asda onto an Asda gift card. However, you must be able to provide proof of purchase, which is either a receipt or a bank statement. You have until 30th January to make the switch.
Redeeming HMV gift cards/vouchers elsewhere
Some stores have offered to accept HMV gift vouchers and cards as payment. Online retailer musicgiftsuk.com
is offering to refund gift cards and vouchers in the form of a discount of up to 50% when you buy from its website. So if you have a £10 gift voucher, you need to buy £20-worth of items to get your £10 refunded. Full details and terms and conditions are on the musicgiftsuk website
Meanwhile, Banquet Records in Kingston-upon-Thames (one of my own favourite independent record shops) is offering 50% off any purchase to gift card and voucher holders. The store will retain the gift card or voucher until after the end of the promotional period, which lasts until 20th January, when you can claim it back from staff. So the best case scenario is you could end up saving some money now and getting your HMV money back later. Full terms and conditions are at the Banquet Records website
Should I hold on to my HMV gift card/voucher?
Administrators Deloitte may decide to start accepting gift cards and vouchers again, as they did when Comet went into administration. However, this is by no means guaranteed. Bear in mind the 120-day deadline for making a chargeback claim for under £100.
What about Blockbuster?
DVD and game rental company Blockbuster has also entered administration (also appointing Deloitte). However, gift cards and trade-in credits are still being accepted for now. But you may want to spend them sooner rather than later.