Holders of HMV gift vouchers face seeing them become worthless after the failed retailer said it would no longer accept them.
The chain, which announced yesterday that it intended to appoint administrators, also said it had stopped issuing new vouchers.
Last week customers of Jessops faced the same problem when the camera retailer collapsed. However, it is possible that, when HMV's administrators are formally appointed, they will allow its vouchers to be accepted once more.
Deloitte is believed to be lined up to run the 92-year-old chain, although a spokesman for the accountancy firm said it could not comment until the appointment was formalised.
Gift vouchers are in effect a debt owed by the company. If the issuer goes bust, anyone with a voucher becomes an unsecured creditor, with a long and uncertain wait to get any money back. However, administrators have discretion to carry on accepting vouchers after a company has failed.
Customers with products that fail after the warranty has expired, who still have rights for up to six years under the Sale of Goods Act, can also expect problems if they seek redress from a company in administration.
If administrators sell all or part of a failed business, the new owner is a separate legal entity and is under no obligation to honour the obligations including vouchers issued by the original concern.
There is no guarantee scheme for vouchers, unlike, say, for bank deposits, which are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if a bank goes bust.
If you have vouchers from HMV, Jessops or another failed retailer, write to the administrators to claim your money back, Which? suggested. But the consumer group added: "There's no guarantee you'll get all of your money back, and it could take up to 12 months to process the claim properly. And not all administrators will take this approach."
It has a template letter to claim a refund for vouchers from a bust company .
Citizens Advice said customers with worthless HMV vouchers could use "chargeback" to reclaim their money if they paid with a debit or credit card. More details are on the charity's website , or you can call 0845 4040 506.
Allianz Insurance confirmed that it would continue to honour insurance claims made under extended warranty policies taken out by HMV customers. The insurer said it currently underwrote 369,000 HMV insurance policies and received about 1,000 claims a month from HMV customers.
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