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I can’t vouch for tokens

Irish News of the World
February 1st, 2009
Diarmuid MacShane

Don’t give away your money for nothing

ValueIreland.com has always advised that you should avoid buying vouchers as gifts. By doing this, you’re basically giving a shop your own money as an interest free loan. They can then keep that until someone tries to use the voucher in the future.

There are too many potential problems that can make them not worth the hassle. These can include expiration dates after which the vouchers could become useless and some vouchers that have terms and conditions that might make them almost impossible to use.

The main risk these days is that shops are closing down – such as Zavvi and Land of Leather after Christmas. Others are at risk of closing down soon. If you have vouchers for a shop that goes out of business you become what is known as an “unsecured creditor”. This basically means you’d be the last person to get your money back once the banks and any other creditors are paid back. “Unsecured creditors” rarely get their money back though!

Other ways in which you could end up as an “unsecured creditor” would be if sign up for the Christmas Clubs advertised by some stores as a way of saving, or buy buying the savings stamps that you now see in many larger stores – grocery stores in particular.

Another risky way of buying something is on “lay away”. This is where you pay a store an amount of money every week or month, and at the end, you get the item you’re buying.

In all of these situations, you’re giving a business your money and actually getting nothing in return. They’re minding your money for you, with the risk of you not getting it back. Why take the risk of losing your money if the shop was to unfortunately close down when your money may very well disappear? Find a savings account with your bank or credit union where it’ll be a whole lot safer.

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