Raw Deal: What are your rights when it comes to high street gift cards?

HMV in Dundee (Kim Cessford / DCT Media)
HMV in Dundee (Kim Cessford / DCT Media)

AFTER a slow Christmas escalated fears for the future of several high street chains, experts suggest it might pay to spend any Christmas gift cards as soon as possible.

HMV is the latest high street victim after it joined House of Fraser, Maplin and Toys R
Us by going into administration, leaving thousands of gift card holders in the lurch or in limbo.

Gift cards and voucher sales are worth £6 billion a year in the UK. But it is estimated about
£300 million of this is wasted because the recipient either loses them, they expire or they can’t spend the balance.

So, what are your rights?

When gift vouchers expire

The amount of time you have to use the gift card or voucher can vary.

Expiry dates are allowed as long as the person buying the voucher was made aware of this at the time of purchase.

Look on the voucher issuer’s website or get in touch with its customer services team for clarification.

Extending a gift voucher

If the voucher has expired without you realising, you may be able to extend it with a fee.

What to do if a gift card or voucher is lost

You may be able to get one reissued by email for free or a physical replacement sent to you for a small fee.

How to exchange unwanted vouchers

It’s unlikely you will be able to exchange for cash. However, if it’s a voucher for an activity rather than spending with a specific retailer you may have more luck.