One of the more popular pages on this site is my constantly updated feature on reasons not to get involved in using gift vouchers – you can see the latest update here.
An oldish story in the Irish Times further highlights that recommendation – Consumers warned to redeem gift vouchers without delay.
The story refers to the policy of the then “about to close down” Hughes & Hughes to not honour any outstanding gift vouchers in the run up to their closing.
All you can say really is what complete and utter scumbags they are – seeing actions like this you’d have to say “no loss” to their closing down if that’s the way they’re going to do business.
Yes, yes, I know that circumstances were different then with their running out of money and shutting down, but in fairness, if that kind of stunt is symptomatic of how they normally ran their business, then we’re better off without them.
Still though, despite the bleating from the Consumers Association of Ireland (we haven’t heard from them in a while) and the National Consumer Agency, Hughes & Hughes were completely within their rights to do this as they had probably catered for it in the terms and conditions of using (or not using) their vouchers.
According to the article, the CAI had the following potentially misleading, and ultimately pointless comment to make:
Consumer Association of Ireland (CAI) chief executive Dermott Jewell said it was “not acceptable” for Hughes Hughes not to redeem the book token while branches were still open. “The consumer holding the voucher would have a contract with that company as long as it is still trading.”
A contract, yes, where there are terms and conditions in place which the consumer would have signed up to by getting involved in the vouchers in the first place.
Maria Hurley from the NCA, apparently echoing someone from the receivers, Deloitte, at least had the factual – if not altogether helpful for the consumer – comments to make:
A company which goes into receivership does not have to honour gift vouchers, even if stores are still open. After a receiver is appointed, he or she is responsible for all subsequent decisions affecting the business, including whether gift vouchers are honoured, she explained.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. In this current environment where you don’t know which businesses are ultimately going to survive, stay away from vouchers, credit notes, lay aways and even deposits – basically any situation where you give money up front to a business in expectation of a future delivery of a product or service.