Its December now so I am legally allowed to use the word Christmas in an article without fear of coming across like a late October Iceland television ad. I hope that you are all in the process of getting lovely presents for your loved and “not so loved but convention says you must buy them a christmas present” ones. If you are anything like me then you will be spending a great deal of time on what to get that latter group of people. The ones who you don’t see from year to year and actually don’t really know a great deal about them and what they enjoy doing. If you work in an office it might be that you have picked Colin out – the guy that wears the “matrix” style trench coat to work and you occasional overhear talking about fantasy role play he was doing at the weekend (no offence is meant to people called Colin – it was a school thing).
If you are in this situation, then like me you will be familiar with that festive allocated area close to the checkouts otherwise known as the ‘get you out of a present jam’ the Christmas gift card/voucher. This is where the financial angle comes in though and I heed you to take warning. Last year I took this easy route of the HMV voucher, I envisaged in my head the feeling of freedom I had gifted to the lucky individual – the freedom to buy the box set they really wanted not the Alan Partridge DVD I had chosen for them. Fast forward 2 weeks to the actual day of the christmas party and we get to the exchange of gifts. I get a nice warm feeling inside as the reciever of my gift pretends that this £10 gift voucher is somehow more thoughtful and useful than an actual £10 note (which can be spent as legal tender anywhere from the smallest shop in Whitstable to Harrods of London). The following day as I eat my breakfast whilst listing to the BBC business news I’m horrified to hear the news that HMV has entered administration. Okay as I listen on I hear the good news that their shops are remaining open in the interim as administrators try to find a buyer, however Gift vouchers are not being accepted, but you can send your vouchers to PricewaterhouseCoopers who will put you on a list with the other tier 5 creditors.
Now, in case you are wondering tier 5 is not very close to the top for people it is important to repay! If that is not bad enough I now have to have a conversation with Colin who is going to to insist that I give him nothing more and where I am going to insist I must make the gift of Christmas complete.
This is just an example but it does raise a valid point – gift vouchers are not cash and if something happens to the retailer your vouchers will fall very low in terms of getting your money back not to mention it is not going to be a quick process. Last year we saw failures of HMV, Blockbusters, Jessops, Past times, to name but a few. Most retailers go bust in January and February. December tends to be their best month, by this time it will be the person who has received your gift who will have lost out and you at best end up paying for something twice or feeling a bit sheepish!
A great alternative to gift vouchers can be cash! Or some shopping centres do vouchers that can be used at any of the shops in that shopping centre like Westfield. I have never heard of these failing but I am assuming they can. I suppose the moral of this story if you are like me is to give yourself more time looking or if that fails there is always the gloved yeti ice scraper: http://www.prezzybox.com/yeti-glove-ice-scraper.aspx
Gem and co are chartered financial planners based in Wimbledon who help clients with all aspects of finance and financial planning. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or if you have any questions feel free to call me directly 020 85430111