Consumers with outstanding gift cards or refund vouchers should act fast to spend them while they can, while those with pending orders face an anxious wait for them to arrive. The retail meltdown is also a warning for Christmas shoppers to avoid buying gift vouchers or cards from any store at risk of going bust in these troubled times. Kevin Mountford, co-founder of savings platform Raisin UK, said typically there is no guarantee that outstanding vouchers will be honoured once a store goes into administration: “Once appointed, administrators have the power to refuse vouchers in an effort to save the company’s finances.”
Arcadia owns 444 outlets across the UK including Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Evans and Outfit, while Debenhams has 130 stores on high streets and in retail parks.
The good news is both firms plan to reopen stores to clear stocks after the lockdown is lifted today. Mountford said: “Your gift cards and vouchers should remain valid for now, but are definitely worth getting rid of while you can.”
Alternatively, you could spend your cards or vouchers on their websites as orders should be honoured.
Topshop has said it will honour all recent orders, including those made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Mountford said: “Some shoppers will prefer the security of making purchases in store instead.”
Alex Neill, chief executive at dispute resolution service Resolver, said the tricky part may be returning unwanted items: “Your best option is to report them to the firm now and say you want a refund, then call your bank or card provider and ask them to ‘charge back’ the cash. Again, don’t hesitate.”
Explain this is urgent and that the business is going into administration. “Your bank should try to get you the cash back as soon as possible,” he said.
If you bought something that does not work and the retailer has ceased trading, contact the manufacturer direct to see if you can get a repair, replacement or refund, Neill added.
You will always have more protection if you pay for goods or services using a credit card, rather than, say, a debit card, he said.
The Consumer Credit Act can help with claiming back any losses from your credit card issuer, provided that they are between £100 and £30,000.
Unfortunately, this will not apply to items that cost less than £100.
When firms go bust, you will have to join a long list of creditors, and will find yourselves towards the back of the queue.
The administration process offers a window of opportunity, Neill said. “The rule of thumb is pretty simple. If you hear a firm is in any danger, then spend the voucher.”