It’s safe to say that it hasn’t been a vintage week for the British retail sector.
Coupled to the ‘Horsegate’ scandal which engulfed Tesco and other supermarkets, there was a triple whammy of woes for High Street retailers Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster – the latter of which you might be surprised was actually still going, much like Des O’Connor, or Angela Lansbury.
These three formerly dominant stores have all had to ‘call in’ the administrators - which presumably entails an A-Team-style van screeching to a halt at their respective head offices, with a crack team of highly trained accountants spilling out who then proceed to, er, administrate the place back into shape.
The Money Shot extends its sympathy not only to the employees of these stores, but also to the poor people who got gift tokens for these shops for Christmas – vouchers are rubbish presents at any rate, even when they are valid.
Sir Tony Baldry , a backbench Tory MP who also happens to be a practising barrister specialising in commercial law stuck the boot in to HMV management– the same bright sparks who thought it a good idea to try and sell copies of the Smashing Pumpkins ‘Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness’ for £25 a pop, allegedly decided that game-changing internet music sites like Napster were ‘too geeky’, and diluted their core offering of, you know, music, with overpriced electrical goods and band merchandise.
"Directors and management must have known that the company was at very real risk of failure whilst they continued selling vouchers all through Christmas and up until the day they went into administration" thundered Sir Tony, as his barrister’s wig slipped from his head with the ferocity of his tirade. (We imagine.)
It’s thought that about £100m worth of HMV vouchers are unspent. But what on earth can you do if you’ve got some in your possession? In an uncharacteristic moment of actually being useful, the Money Shot will tell you...
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE UNSPENT STORE VOUCHERS
Here’s the good news – when the administrators get called in, voucher holders are counted as creditors, and could get their money back once all the store’s assets are sold off and there’s enough money to go round….
Unfortunately, they’re pretty low down the pecking order of creditors – suppliers, distributors, landlords and the like come higher up the food chain.
The Trading Standards Institute says that you should ACT NOW if you want to reclaim your vouchers, so if you’re in possession of vouchers which aren’t being accepted, put your best claim-lodging trousers on and get stuck in.
Some retailers actually let voucher holders redeem them – Blockbuster is currently doing this. And there’s the chance that administrators could have a change of heart, like those at Comet did last year, before shutting for good just before Christmas
And there may even be an outside likelihood that a shop steps in and honours your vouchers some way, kind of like a retail knight in shining armour – independent store Banquet Records in Kingstone-upon-Thames is offering a 50% off offer to HMV voucher holders.
Anyway, let’s hope that we’ve all learned our lesson – in future, think about just giving people the money.
SHORT CHANGE – THE WEEK’S MONEY NEWS IN BRIEF
To the delight of voyeurs everywhere, rightwing ‘think tank’ Policy Exchange has recommended that households should be able to anonymously compare other energy bills on the same street to make sure that they’re getting the best deal.
‘The banks’ have been given a stern “do that again and you’ll get a smacked bottom” warning from the Financial Services Authority over bonuses and commissions which encourage their staff to actively rip off customers. If they don’t, they’ll be the subject of a ‘major crackdown’, whatever that means.
Former justice secretary Jack Straw has said that insurers should be able to challenge bogus car insurance claims – not just those pertaining to notoriously difficult-to-diagnose whiplash.
E.On gas and electricity price ‘hikes’ are due to kick in. Boo! Etc…
ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK
Run yourself a deep, sensual bubblebath, dim the lights, stick on some Demis Roussos ‘pon de stereo and let Covered mag’s very own Mr Lover Lover, Dave Jenkins, whisper sweet nothings in your ear regarding Valentine’s Day on the cheap.
With all the chatter around child benefits, Felicity Hannah pored over what free stuff for parents is available out there.
Long convoluted routes. Arrivals at ungodly hours. Stop-offs in places you never thought existed. Are these things really worth the savings on long-haul flights? Jon Severs gives it to you straight on the matter.
Socialite, ‘amateur video’ sensation and main squeeze of Yeezy, Kim Kardashsian has ‘channelled’ comparison site ad man Gio Compario for this ritzy new look."I wouldn't mind but I don't have the excuse of being pregnant," chuckled Wynne Evans, who plays the much-loved character of Gio in the ads over the medium of popular social network, Twitter.