Gift vouchers are no longer accepted at Jessops, nor are returned goods, even if they are faulty. So what are your rights?
Thousands of consumers will lose out after photographic equipment retailer Jessops went into administration on 9 January 2013, putting about 200 stores and 2,000 jobs at risk.
Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has warned that shoppers’ gift vouchers will no longer be accepted in-store, nor will it accept returned goods, even if they are faulty.
Rob Hunt of PwC said he hoped stores would continue trading, but said this is “critically dependent on ongoing discussions” and that it was “inevitable” that some stores would close. He added: “At present Jessops is not in a position to honour customer vouchers or to accept returned goods.”
The camera expert is the first major high street casualty of 2013, following a string of closures in 2012 including Comet, JJB Sports, Game, Peacocks and Blacks Leisure. The photography chain said it had been hit by changes in the way people buy cameras and the growing use of smartphones to take pictures.
Consumer rights group Which? advised holders of Jessops gift vouchers to write to PwC, but said: “There’s no guarantee you’ll get all of your money back, and it could take up to 12 months to process the claim properly.”
Can I still shop in Jessops?
Branches are still open, but liable to close at any minute. PwC has said: “Trading in the stores is hoped to continue today, but is critically dependent on these ongoing discussions.” The website is no longer taking orders.
I’m awaiting delivery of an item I’ve paid for – will I get it?
This is unclear at present. Contact Jessops to see what stage your order is at (0845 458 7000). If it is ready for dispatch the company might still be able to fulfil it. If it cannot send out an item you should check to see if you can collect it from a warehouse or store yourself, providing there are still staff on hand to help. You’ll need to take a receipt or proof of ID with you.
What if it doesn’t arrive or turns out to be faulty?
If the company is unable to fulfil your order or you are unable to obtain a refund or replacement for a faulty item, you may be able to get your money back depending on how you paid.
If you paid by credit card you are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This makes the credit provider jointly liable with the retailer for anything you buy, provided the item costs between £100 and £30,000. This also applies to anything bought with a credit agreement through a store, so if you sign up for an interest-free credit deal you are still covered.
The protection covers undelivered goods and those that prove to be faulty, and you only need to have put the deposit on your card, not the whole cost.
Should you need to make a claim, Citizens Advice has a template letter you can download and send to your credit card provider. Bear in mind, the cover does not extend to items paid for with credit card cheques.
If you bought goods on other plastic you may have some protection. Visa, MasterCard and American Express all offer a scheme called chargeback, which allows customers to claim back money spent on a debit or prepaid card if the goods do not arrive or are faulty, or where the retailer has gone bust. There are time limits for these claims so you should act as soon as you can. See our factsheet for more on Section 75 and chargeback.
If you paid by cash or some other means you will have to contact the administrators to make a claim directly. You should do so immediately to inform it about the disputed purchase, although there is no guarantee you will get your money back. A company in administration will have a long list of creditors and it is the administrator’s role to decide how much cash the company has to be distributed, which creditors are first in line, and how much each creditor will receive.
Are gift vouchers worthless if a company is in administration?
Pretty much. Gift vouchers are categorised as debt owed by the company, so if it goes bust gift voucher-holders become unsecured creditors who join a queue of creditors looking for their money back. Administrators can, at their discretion, continue accepting vouchers, but this is unusual.
PwC has already said it will not accept Jessops gift vouchers. If you have unspent vouchers you need to lodge a claim with the administrators and hope for the best.
If you hold vouchers for a retailer you suspect might be in trouble, spend them as soon as you can.
Will the guarantee I bought with my product still work?
Yes. Manufacturers often provide their own guarantee, while longer-term guarantees and warranties are usually underwritten by a third party, which will be legally required to honour contracts regardless of what has happened to the retailer which originally sold the product. In Jessops’ case, for example, its care plan is underwritten by warranty provider Domestic & General.