Music and DVD giant HMV is set to appoint an administrator as its closure threatens more than 4,000 jobs.
Deloitte is still awaiting confirmation it will be in charge of sailing HMV to the bottom of the ocean. In the meantime, the chain's 239 stores across the UK and Ireland are expected to remain open today.
But HMV said it will not be accepting or issuing gift vouchers any more. Its shares have also been suspended on the London Stock Exchange, the store said in a statement.
HMV's suppliers last week turned down a request for £300 million to pay off the chains bank debts and fund an overhaul of its business model.
Founded in 1921, the company has struggled with debts for more than a year but was hoping a busy Christmas and a blue-cross sale in January could turn its fortunes around.
But its battle against internet retailers and the ever-growing ease of acquiring music and films online seems to have ended only a week after Jessops had to bow out from the high street.
The camera retailer closed its doors last week with the loss of about 1,370 jobs.
If you think you may be affected by the closure of either store, the following Q&A could help.
Can I get my money back?
Q. What do I do with the voucher I received for Christmas?
A. HMV will no longer be honouring vouchers. However, the person who bought the voucher might be able to claim the money back from their debit or credit card issuer using either Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or the Chargeback scheme.
Section 75 will cover you if you bought something for more than £100 (up to a limit of £30,000) using your credit card. This is because your credit card provider will be jointly liable - together with the retailer - if anything goes wrong and will reimburse you the cost of the purchase. If the value is under £100, it's still worth contacting the provider as it might still reimburse you.
The Chargeback scheme works in a similar way and although it is not law (like Section 75) for providers to adhere to most do so. The scheme also covers debit cards and allows card issuers to reverse a transaction if there's a problem with something you've bought.
Claims must be addressed to your card provider within 120 days of finding out there's a problem. The card provider will then pass on a claim to the merchant's bank – but there is no guarantee the claim will be successful.
If the voucher was purchased with cash or cheques there is no protection and the buyer should contact the administrator to make a claim.
Jessops is in a similar situation. However, administrators can change their mind and decide to honour voucher payments, as Deloitte did when dealing with electrical goods giant Comet when it went bust last year. Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and PR for the HMV Group, says customers should hang on and wait for further confirmation.
Q. I've pre-ordered something from HMV – will I get my money back?
A. Register with the administrator but your claim will be at the back of the line behind any debts that need paying off. Deloitte is expected to deal with HMV, while Pricewaterhouse Coopers is handling Jessops.
Q. What if I want to return a faulty product to either shop?
Jessop's doors are shut and Deloitte has said the retailer will not be accepting returned goods. HMV's doors remain open but it is unclear whether they are accepting returned goods. A spokesperson for Which?, the consumer group, says: "If you have bought an extended warranty, check the small print carefully. Often it's provided by a third party in which case you shouldn't be affected."
Q. Is there hope yet for HMV?
A. Part of the administration process is accessing the worth of the business and seeing whether a buyer could be found – so, yes. Some experts believe this could be an opportunity for HMV to revive itself and start anew.
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