One of the worst things about HMV going bust is that a whole bunch of poor, innocent people who got HMV vouchers for Christmas now find themselves out of pocket. If you’re one of the sad unfortunates, don’t throw away your gift voucher in frustration quite yet; you may well be able to spend your hard-won pressie after all.
To set the record straight: you currently don’t have any legal ‘right’ for HMV to redeem your voucher. (So no wandering into the stores and just stealing stuff, like a few people have done. That’s still theft, you naughty people.) Effectively, HMV is in debt to the holders of its gift vouchers; when they entered administration, voucher holders are just added to the list of creditors who want to get their money back from HMV. Sadly, as the debt is ‘unsecured’, voucher holders are right at the bottom of the queue for repayment. So, if you want to wrest your money back from HMV, what are your options?
If the rumours are to be believed, HMV may pull through the administration and out the other side. A rescue deal is believed to be on the cards, funded by a bunch of record companies who don’t want to see their favourite record company go down the drain. If a deal is put together and HMV continues trading, it’s quite possible that the New and Improved HMV will accept gift vouchers.
According to the BBC, Deloitte and HMV have decided that they can honour gift vouchers after all. Starting tomorrow, 22nd January, (ironically one week after entering administration), you’ll be able to use your gift vouchers in store.
If you (or your generous present-buyer) bought the HMV card from another store, you may be able to take it back and return it. As of the moment, Tesco, Asda and (as of this morning) Boots will all redeem your gift cards. Take your worthless HMV piece of plastic back to one of those stores with proof of purchase (a receipt or bank statement), and the stores will transfer the value of your HMV gift card onto a in-store gift card.
Simply put, if you bought a £10 HMV gift card from Boots, you can get it exchanged for a £10 Boots card. Yeah, it’s not quite the same as getting your money back, but £10 in Boots is a damn sight more useful than no pounds in HMV. Go buy yourself some vitamins or something.
Until January 31st, online retailers Music Gifts UK are offering to redeem HMV vouchers. Their offer allows you to pay for up to 50% of the value of the order with gift vouchers. Simply put, if you place a £20 order, you can pay for up to £10 with an HMV voucher. They sell a range of music memorabilia, from tacky Beatles mugs to Sex Pistols cufflinks — and show me one person who doesn’t need Sex Pistols cufflinks.
In addition, there are a couple of restaurants offering freebies or money off bills, like this place here:
If you have a HMV or Jessops voucher bring it to us & we’ll give you 15% off your bill upto the value of your voucher plz Rt t’s&c’s apply
— Burger_Breakout (@Burger_Breakout) January 21, 2013
Truth be told, you might actually prefer this to buying something in HMV.
If the vouchers were bought on a credit card, and as part of a transaction totalling more than £100 (the voucher doesn’t have to be worth £100, just the overall transaction), you should be able to claim your money back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. In order to claim, you should phone up your credit card provider, inform them that you wish to make a claim, and they should send you some forms in the post. For more information see this superb guide.
If you’re one of those smug fiscally-responsible debt-shy types who doesn’t have a credit card, you can still try and get your money back if you paid with a debit card. In this case you’re claiming from the card provider rather than bank — so Visa/Mastercard/Amex rather than HSBC or whoever.
Chargeback is weaker protection than Section 75, as the card provider isn’t legally liable for your loss as they are under Section 75. Mind you, there’s one important difference: there’s no minimum claim amount on chargeback, unlike Section 75′s minimum £100 spend. You should make a claim to your card provider within 120 days of the problem (so within 120 days of HMV going bust). For more details, check out MoneySavingExpert’s guide.
If you didn’t like any of the above options, there is, of course, the option to register a claim with HMV’s administrator, Deloittes. Technically, as well as owing money to a bunch of banks, they also kinda owe money to the holders of vouchers. If you’ve got a voucher, you can register as a creditor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org — just don’t expect to get any money quickly, if at all. Unsecured debt like gift vouchers ranks just under IOUs scribbled on napkins in the debt-repayment-ladder-thing.
Updated: HMV is Accepting Vouchers