High street retailers criticised about online voucher policy
01 February 2011 - 08:39 by Paul Tissington
A report in the Guardian newspaper has revealed that many retailers who operate on the high street and online are making hundreds of millions of pounds because of inflexible policies relating to gift vouchers.
The investigation highlights the case of one 14 year old, who wanted to make a purchase from Jack Wills using a voucher which had been bought for her by her grandmother. An item on sale online was the object of her desires, as it matched the £50 amount of the voucher, but she could not make the purchase from the e-commerce site as it was not compatible with vouchers purchased in-store.
By the time she had found a high street outlet for the retailer the sale was over and the item had been shipped back to the warehouse. This means that safe shopping online is only convenient for those who are paying by debit or credit card and not those who have got a voucher from a high street store which they then wish to use online.
The report points out that Next is one of the few retailers who will allow users to transfer a store-bought gift voucher to make an online purchase. Others, including Gap, H&M and Topshop, have a policy which denies consumers the chance to enjoy this feature.
Research quoted in the article identifies the fact that up to £580 million is being made by retailers each year because gift cards go unused and consequently expire, rendering them useless, whether online or in-store.
Seventy per cent of Brits are thought to have at least one unused gift voucher at home, with the implication being that by making them compatible with the portals for safe shopping online, operated by most high street chains, there would no longer be this waste.