Looking a Gift Card in the mouth?

Many of us will be buying and receiving gift cards this Christmas. They have become big business since the first book token was issued in 1932. Whether you think it shows lack of thought (why not give cash instead of restricting the recipient?) or shows more thought by showing that they have chosen a particular store, it is now big business.  The voucher and gift card industry has grown into a £5.6bn a year operation in the UK according to the latest figures from the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA). This up from 4bn in the previous year and is continually growing year on year.

Gail Cohen, Director General from the UKGCVA, says, “Research from The UK Gift Card and Voucher Association shows that 60% of members saw a growth in sales during H1 [first half of] 2016, and 4.44% growth compared to the same period in 2015.” This analysis is based on data provided by UKGCVA’s retail issuer members that agree to share their data.

The figure for the amount of unspent gift cards in the UK is £300 million, which accounts for just over 5% of the entire value of gift cards and vouchers in the UK. The UKGCVA says it is working with its members to increase consumer awareness around gift cards, with the aim of further decreasing this figure in the future.

Now that consumers can sell their gift cards they believe they will never use, this unspent figure may reduce. Zeek (that’s an affiliate link so if you use it and register at no cost then you and I should both get a payment!) is a marketplace website/app where gift cards can be bought and sold.  Sellers can set their own price and the bigger the discount, the faster the voucher sells. Typical discounts right now are between 5% and 25%. Zeek takes 7% of the selling price (£3 minimum). This compares favourably with auction sites, such as eBay, which which takes 10%. Zeek verifies the balance and expiry date of every card that is listed for sale.  Digital vouchers, which tend to be redeemed immediately, must be valid for at least a month. Physical vouchers, where you need time to get to the store, must be valid for at least 3 months.

A spokesperson for Zeek said that it sees thousands of new buyers and sellers join Zeek every day. November was their biggest ever month. 94% of vouchers sell within 24 hours. Department stores, supermarkets, Amazon and fashion always sell very quickly.

Zeek’s CEO and co-founder Daniel Zelkind said “Shopping with discounted gift vouchers is a simple way to cut the cost of the festive period and if Santa gives you a gift voucher you’ll never use, it’s easy to turn it into cash and buy something you actually want.”

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow, consumer expert and author for How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! provides ten top tips regarding gift cards:

What should you be aware of when buying or receiving gift cards?

1) Always check the expiry date and spend quickly if you can so that you don’t forget it!

2) Make a note of the number. If you lose the card, the store should be able to trace the card, stop the amount and issue you with a new one.

3) If you return the item, whether you change your mind and the store allows it, or even if the item is faulty, the refund will be put back on a gift card.

4) It is unlikely that you will be able to use the card in store concessions but do check as this varies from store to store.

5) If the store goes bust it will be up to the administrators as to whether they will accept gift cards, so keep hold of them as it is unlikely but possible that they will be accepted. The purchaser may be able to get money back using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if it was for more than a £100 and paid for on a credit card or using Chargeback if less than a £100 from your bank. The latter is a voluntary signed up to scheme rather than law.

6) When giving a gift card, also give the receipt which the recipient can keep in a separate place in case the card gets lost or stolen.

7) Check that you can use the card online.

8) Your consumer rights when buying goods or services are the same as when purchasing items with a gift card.

9) If your card has expired ask for an extension. There’s a chance the store may allow it.

10) Check the terms and conditions. Sometimes the expiry date is from when it is bought, last used or just checking the balance so you may be able to extend the gift card’s life time!

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6 Responses to Looking a Gift Card in the mouth?

  1. david owens says:

    hi their iam not happy with the thathree have they have let me down with wier fier as well and cut the phone off as well with me being adiabetic and indeed of aphone asabout 3months ago i then got the phone but in by eee only had it on for about aweek then it got cut off and their wasno phone boxs in the anfield area as well now their wasno payment card with eee at all and no time to pay at all and 20days promise to pay as well they never even took my seroius illness in to considration at all what sover under the disablty act 1995 because of disabltys as well now too and now i had very bad nasty customer care of the cheif executive of eee called sam saying that he cant help me at all and just because they have knocked 900 pounds off my bill as well now too because iwas rining the servces up 118247 as well which idid not know their was acharge for it as well now too and now their is atotal out standing bill of 3444 pounds as well and they are still makeing me pay it as well and iam only getting benefits once every 2weeks as well can you look in to this now dave owens

    • The Complaining Cow says:

      Sorry, this is really very difficult to read and I am not sure what the issue is. The blog post is about gift cards but I don’t think that your comment is to do with this. You mention EE so guess that the problem is with EE so please see this post All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers and the links there and find the relevant one for your issue. Also see Top 20 Tips for Complaining and please ask a friend to help you write the complaint to EE. Also mention the Equalities Act 2010 as the Disability Act of 1995 no longer exists.

  2. Ian brown says:

    We received a £100 Debenhams gift voucher of my Uncle on Christmas day, that evening we ordered a taxi but as we got in we realised it wasn’t adequate for my disabled son so the driver ordered a replacement. The next morning we realised we were a bag of presents short, somewhere in the taxi chaos we had misplaced the bag that contained, amongst other things, the debenhams voucher.

    We rang the taxi firm but both drivers say there was nothing left in their taxis at the end of the shift so our present bag must have been stolen by another passenger.

    Luckily my uncle still had the full receipt from when he purchased the voucher. We wrongly assumed we would be able to get the card blocked and hopefully get another one reissued. How wrong we were.

    It turns outdated theses vouchers, far from being a advance against goods you are yet to purchase, are actually just money raising bonds for stores. When something goes wrong, they are utterly disinterested as they already have the money.

    Days of emails, phone calls, tweets, facebook interactions simply got us referred to the t&cs, the dato protection act and passed from pillar to post as of course, debenhams do not actually run their own gift card wing, it is an outsourced thing.

    A week after it was stolen and 5 days after we began the tortuous process of trying to block the card, debenhams finally revealed what we had feared, someone had spent the card and we now needed to refer the matter to the police. To be honest, I’ve run out of steam.

    The only silver lining? A random stranger knocked on my front door, he’d read my moan on social media and in an act of unrequested kindness, he had bought us a replacement voucher. We were utterly gobsmacked and tried to refuse but he was having none of it.

    • The Complaining Cow says:

      If you informed Debenhams straight away of the theft they could have stopped it. If it had already been spent then it’s the same as someone stealing cash. Sounds like Debenhams delayed here so that’s not good service. I’d like proof from Debenhams of when the card was used. If it was used after you informed them of the code so that they could have blocked it and indeed caught the culprit then I would say they aided the thief because they COULD have stopped it. As I say though, if you gave them the code after it had been used then unfortunately there would be nothing Debenhams could do. If you have provided proof that the card was stolen then you would think that they would offer some sort of goodwill gesture though. Had this been a stolen credit card you would get your money back but gift cards don’t work in the same way.

      How did the stranger know your address?

  3. Olivia says:

    Hi,
    I have just realised that my Ticketmaster gift voucher has expired; I got it for Christmas 2015 and Ticketmaster gift vouchers only come with 12 months in which to use them. On their website it does state in gift voucher Ts and Cs that they cannot offer extensions. Is it worth trying to complain/get an extension or do you think it is a lost cause?
    Thanks

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