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Angry Mothercare customers left holding their vouchers

Useless voucher: Daniela Intili has been left with gift vouchers for Mothercare she cannot use after the company went into voluntary receivership.

Useless voucher: Daniela Intili has been left with gift vouchers for Mothercare she cannot use after the company went into voluntary receivership. Photo: Janie Barrett

Mothercare customers have lost hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards and deposits since the baby clothing retailer was put into voluntary liquidation.

The customers, many of whom are expectant mothers, are angry with the retailer, which has refused to honour gift cards or deposits after going into administration six weeks ago.

One expectant mother Tara Bartlett was told by the administrators, BRI Ferrier, she would not be getting the baby furniture she had pre-ordered and paid a $75 deposit on at a Mothercare store in Brisbane.

Ms Bartlett was also told she could not redeem her $100 gift voucher. ''The way it has been handled has been atrocious,'' Ms Bartlett said.

Another expectant mother, Daniela Intili, was told she could not use her $50 gift voucher that she had been given only two weeks before. ''I was furious,'' Ms Intili said. ''When you get a gift voucher and you're about to become a parent you're going to spend more than that anyway,'' Ms Intili said, who is expecting her first baby in three weeks. ''In the end they're the ones who lose money.''

In a notice to customers, the administrator said Mothercare credit notes and gift cards cannot be redeemed. It also said refunds of order deposits would not be given and exchanges would only include full-priced items if the purchase is within two weeks.

A Newcastle woman, Bonnie Humphries, bought a $200 gift voucher a day before the company went into administration. Three days later, she was told her voucher was no longer valid. ''[I] went over to the shop to ask why I was issued a voucher the day before they went into voluntary administration.

''The answer was, they didn't know,'' she wrote to the Newcastle Herald, owned by Fairfax Media.

A spokesman for the administrator said the next creditors meeting would be determined before May 3, when creditors would ''decide the future of the company''.

There are 43 Mothercare, Early Learning Centre and Kids Central stores in Australia.

Eighteen stores have closed since late January.

46 comments

  • Hopefully some of you will have paid by credit card. Call up and try to get the transaction reversed because the 'goods and/or services were not supplied by the vendor'.

    Commenter
    Alistair
    Date and time
    March 11, 2013, 9:41AM
    • On what basis?
      The purchase of a gift card is not a supply of goods/services and it isn’t the credit card issuer’s loss to bear. Play it safe by sticking with Coles/Woolworths/JB-HIFI/Westfield/prepaid VISA/AMEX or cash. Otherwise accept that you or the person you're gifting is an unsecured creditor to a company of questionable financial stability.

      Commenter
      Jim
      Date and time
      March 11, 2013, 10:45AM
    • Gift card is considered goods/services? I thought it's more like a promissory note?

      Commenter
      Boringpie
      Date and time
      March 11, 2013, 11:14AM
    • Alistair you are correct. The gift card is an advance payment for goods or services yet to be supplied. If the gift card has not expired, and the merchant cannot or won't provide goods or services the credit card company can reverse the merchant transaction.
      Unfortunately due to events like this and our relatively short expiry time, with about 20% not being redeemed, gift cards are more a gift to the merchant than the recipient.
      To the people deriding a gift of a merchant card instead of buying an object, for a mother or mother to be the gift card is probably the best present as they are free to choose or upgrade whatever the actually need.
      In many countries the advance purchase is refundable and not treated as an unsecured credit.
      A fundamental part of consumer protection and confidence.

      Commenter
      Quantum of Solace
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 11, 2013, 3:34PM
  • Really? 50 bucks? Outrageous and disgraceful. Lump them im the category with people who lose their unfinished houses or life savings. How will they go on? They went out of business. What were they supposed to do? Close earlier, saving some of theses people their money, but of course, someone who redeemed their voucher in the couple of days before they closed would have been stung. Same story, different people. 50 bucks, oh the humanity.

    Commenter
    John
    Date and time
    March 11, 2013, 9:51AM
    • I thought exactly the same thing. Honestly - get some perspective people! Think of all the staff finding themselves without jobs. Can't cash in your $50 gift card (no doubt received as a gift - i.e. for nothing)??? Boo hoo. Time to get a grip.

      Commenter
      Lina
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 11, 2013, 12:36PM
  • Another great reason never to give store gift cards.

    They are ALMOST as good as cash, and seriously they don't give the impression that you put any more thought into it.

    Commenter
    JustGiveCash
    Date and time
    March 11, 2013, 9:52AM
    • The message is simple ... never, never, never buy a gift card from any retailer. If you really want a gift card, get one of those pre-paid Visa cards you can get from the bank. Firstly, much lower chance of issues like this and you recipient can use it anywhere they want. Simple really.

      Commenter
      JZCarr
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      March 11, 2013, 9:53AM
      • Why oh why do people buy vouchers....

        Commenter
        tango8
        Date and time
        March 11, 2013, 9:59AM
        • The stores that flog these vouchers know very well that when they are used for purchases the exact amount of value of the card is either short or over. If the item purchased is under the value of the card there is now cash refund to make up the difference so one has to use it again at a later date, if the purchase of the item is over the value of the card then the retailer is most happy as they rope you in to spend more.
          What a scam, I don't trust them who ever they are.

          Commenter
          Bill
          Location
          Canadian
          Date and time
          March 11, 2013, 10:29AM

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