The high street took a double whammy this week when retail giant Arcadia went into administration, taking with it stores including Top Shop, Miss Selfridge, Top Man, Wallis and Evans and Dorothy Perkins, and then within 24 hours, Debenhams went into liquidation.
It’s sad news for struggling high streets, all the employees, with an estimated 25,000 jobs now at risk, and shoppers, who are confused about whether they can still spend gift cards, take back returns or faulty goods.
I’ve been talking and writing about this a lot including this piece for Good Housekeeping so here’s my quick run down on your consumer rights and why you should act fast!
Play gift cards now!
If the store is open, they may still accept gift cards. But it’s not unusual, as is the case with gift cards for Arcadia’s brands, to find they may only be accepted towards 50% of any purchase.
But if a store goes bust, they could prove worthless as you’ll be at the back of the queue trying to claim back your cash, behind a whole pile of ‘creditors’.
If gift cards get refused, the person who bought the card in the first place, may be able to claim their money back, through the banks’ ‘charge back’ system. But that’s providing they paid on debit or credit card.
Rush for refunds on returns
Most high street stores usually offer generous ‘returns’ policies and swap or refund unwanted items, or stuff you’ve changed your mind on.
If the store doors are open, head back armed with ‘proof of purchase’ and see if you can get your money back or even settle for an exchange.
Kicking your heels waiting for orders?
Still waiting for an order? If it doesn’t arrive, or the company goes bust, you may be able to claim your money back depending on how you paid.
If you paid by credit card, and the item cost over £100, you’ve got special powers, in the form of a handy bit of consumer legislation known as ‘Section 75’. Part of the Consumer Credit Act, this gives you super powers, as it makes both the company you paid your money to, and your credit card company ‘jointly liable’.
So if the store won’t, (or can’t), play ball, you can ask your card company for a refund. Paid by debit card? Ask your bank to do a ‘charge back’.
If the store’s trading, dash back to see if you can get a refund or exchange.
If they won’t help, (and once a store’s in the hands of the administrators it’s their call), contact the manufacturer. You usually get at least a year’s guarantee on electrical items so ask the manufacturer to fix the fault.
And if you stumped up for an ‘extended warranty’; these are usually backed by insurers, which means you should still be able to get faults fixed.