A customer of the financially troubled store Game has his store gift card refused as a form of payment
I was given a gift card worth £30 this Christmas to spend in Game. However, when the company went into administration, and even though some of the stores were still open, the staff refused to accept the gift card.
As any goods I want have already been paid for, would I commit any offence if I simply took goods to a value of £25 from the shop and left them my gift card as payment?
If Mr Cooper walked into a Game store, picked up products to the value of the gift certificate and just put it down when the shop has already informed him it won’t accept this method of payment he would be committing theft.
We have advised him not to take this route – not that we think he really meant to. But we do understand his anger and frustration. With many major retailers struggling, some big names have gone out of business, leaving many people with worthless gift cards.
But it is not illegal in these circumstances to refuse to accept the gift card as payment. The Game Group had, as Mr Cooper pointed out, gone into administration. It is the administrator’s job to try to sell the company as a going concern, as well as ensure there is as much money as possible to pay creditors.
But some creditors, such as banks, take priority over others. Consumers come way down the list and in order to maximise the worth of a company, administrators often refuse to accept gift cards.
This is legal as the customer is no longer dealing with the shop – even if it is still trading – but instead with its administrators. They have control and the consumer has no contract with them.
The good news here is that the UK arm of the Game Group has been bought by OpCapita, which started accepting gift cards from 6 April, so Mr Cooper and people like him should be able to redeem their gift cards without problem.
This is just another case that shows how vulnerable people are when they buy these cards or vouchers.
They are a great way of giving a thoughtful present but are essentially cash without the safeguards of cash.
There is little protection if a company goes bust. For example, it is believed that thousands of people who had gift cards for the high street retailer Zavvi lost out when it ceased trading. If a gift voucher is paid for by a credit card and is worth more than £100 then the customer can claim a refund from the card-issuing bank. The only other way someone can try to get redress is by lodging a claim with the administrator. People will need to find out who this company is. Administrators often have a claim form online that can be filled in and sent off.
Note: From Friday 6 April, Game began accepting gift cards in-store again.
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