In July, I placed two online orders on Currys.co.uk and paid with gift cards. Shortly afterwards, both were cancelled without explanation and I was told my gift cards would be refunded within eight weeks.
Despite constant promises, I’m still out of pocket. If I had paid by credit card I could have made a claim under the Consumer Credit Act. I’d have been similarly protected if I’d paid via PayPal. But since I used gift cards, I can’t get any help, and I’m getting worried I’ll never get my £150 back. My salary has been cut by 25%, so I could certainly use it.
You raise an important point, especially when many stores face an uncertain future.
The cards were part of a benefit service provided by your employer which entitles you to discounted gift tokens. Many others will have taken advantage of similar schemes to spread the load at Christmas. However, gift cards may become worthless if the designated trader ceases trading and, as you found, even if the company you choose is not struggling, there are no protections if an order is not fulfilled. This type of payment is not regulated so, although you are entitled to receive the goods or service under the Consumer Rights Act, there’s no easy redress.
Only when I got in touch did Currys apologise and issue new gift cards to the same value, plus a goodwill extra. “This is not the standard of customer service we expect of ourselves,” it said. “The issue which caused the gift cards not to be refunded immediately was a one-off technical glitch.”
As for the vanished order, apparently it was cancelled because the items were damaged and no one thought to tell you. If you’re ordering gift cards worth more than £100, try to get the sum on a single card, and pay with a credit card, then you are protected if things go wrong, provided it’s not bought from a third-party retailer like a supermarket.
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