Troubled electronics retailer Dick Smith has been accused of aggressively promoting its gift vouchers through Coles and Woolworths supermarkets by offering an extra 10 per cent on gift cards during the Christmas period.
Those gift vouchers are now worthless, which has enraged customers, who have voiced their complaints on Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook user James Briggs said he was given a $1200 Dick Smith gift card from his dying grandfather.
"Now the gift card is not worth the plastic it is printed on!!!," he wrote on Dick Smith's Facebook page.
Other social media comments have likened the move not to honour the gift cards to "stealing".
Shoppers who bought a Dick Smith gift voucher at Coles or Woolworths were given an extra 10 per cent on top of the amount they paid. If they spent $100, the voucher would have been worth $110 in store.
"This promotion was an initiative of Dick Smith," a Woolworths spokesman said.
Withdrawn from sale
A Coles spokesman said the gift vouchers had been withdrawn from sale in the supermarket when Dick Smith was placed into voluntary receivership on Tuesday.
"Coles was not informed prior to the company entering administration and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers," the spokesman said.
"Coles is unable to offer refunds for gift cards as Coles has already passed on the funds. Customers who have purchased Dick Smith gift cards that have not been redeemed should contact the administrators to register as creditors or for updates on any change to the redemption of gift cards in future."
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it was working with state and territory fair trading agencies and was in contact with the receiver to monitor consumer issues. Dick Smith declined to comment.
Technology commentator and digital strategist Paul Wallbank said he had been given a Dick Smith voucher as a gift from ANZ Bank for customer loyalty just before Christmas, but now he is unable to spend it.
"As someone who watches the space I had a view that Dick Smith didn't have long to last and when the shares were suspended I wondered if I should go down to Dick Smith and spend it, but I couldn't think of anything I wanted," he said.
'Nothing I wanted'
"That's the real killer for Dick Smith. When I looked at the store there was nothing I wanted and that sums up this case. The only thing I've bought from there in recent years was a MacBook Pro when they had one of their 10 per cent-off sales."
Mr Wallbank said he had a "cynical resignation" about the situation.
"I would say to the people who are now unsecured creditors – and I have been one on a number of occasions – you're not going to get anything," he said.
The electronics retailer has appointed McGrath Nicol as voluntary administrator and the National Australia Bank and HSBC have put Ferrier Hodgson in place as receiver and manager.
The business owes about $150 million to banks, but the New Zealand arm of the company is profitable and might be attractive to buyers.
Forager Funds Management chief investment officer Steve Johnson told ABC Radio on Wednesday that putting the company into receivership just after Christmas could have been a strategic move by the banks.
"It's almost impossible for a retailer to not have any money after Christmas," he said.
"My guess is that the banks have seen that cash in the bank and gone, 'Well if we put it into receivership now, then that cash and that gift card money, before people go and spend it, is going to be ours to grab, rather than the suppliers getting paid first'."