A Christmas gift card is a popular option to enable your loved ones to spend at their favourite stores, although there are hidden rip-offs you need to know.

The state of the high street is increasingly precarious, so this is something you need to give careful consideration.

EXPIRY DATES

Customers are being short-changed because some cards expire within just 6 months. Others carry hidden fees that quickly make them worthless. The Government is seeking a minimum 2 year expiry period and fairer terms and conditions, as cards often do not even carry use-by dates.

Gift cards are risky. If a firm goes bust, you lose your money and it can be incredibly difficult to find out when a gift card expires.

Shoppers can also be caught out by hidden fees. A 90p charge is applied each month after 18 months on ‘One 4 All’ cards, which can be used with more than 100 retailers including Debenhams, M & S, House of Fraser, Gap, H & M and Waterstones (no expiry date).

 

HOW LONG THEY LAST

1 YEAR

Cineworld, Costa Coffee, French Connection, Habitat, Jojo Maman Bebe, Pandora, Sweaty Betty, Ted Baker, Ticketmaster, White Stuff

2 YEARS

Body Shop, Fat Face, House of Fraser, Lakeland, M & S, Mothercare, Reiss, Superdrug

3 YEARS

Argos, Zara

NO EXPIRY

Ikea, iTunes, Selfridges, Starbucks

Whilst this isn’t a scam per-se, I have written about Amazon fraud, SIM phone card scams and other types of fraud. There is no way of knowing which firm will fold next, with some well-known high street firms folding virtually every month. With that in mind, I believe that buying a Christmas gift card is an increasingly risky option.

CORONAVIRUS AND LOCKDOWN

Consumers may have been left with gift cards that they have been unable to use due to coronavirus and lockdown. Which? say that about £100m has been lost due to expired vouchers as a result.

Consumers need to treat gift cards like cash and be more proactive in using them.

It is worth asking if it can be extended and you can argue that you were unable to use it due to the premises being closed and mention the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Odeon cinemas have chosen to extend gift cards for the time that they were closed on the expiry time. Retailers are not under any obligation to do so and you are essentially relying on goodwill.

Have you been caught out by a Christmas gift card? If so, what’s your story?

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