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HMV gift cards: You're 'at the bottom of the pile'

As HMV crashes into administration, gift cards aren't accepted and online sales are in doubt. What are your rights as a customer?

Know your rights, as The Clash once sang. As HMV crashes into adminstration, threatening 4,000 jobs, many irate customers have been left out of pocket with gift cards and online orders under threat. But what are your rights as a customer?

Technically, once it enters administration a company no longer exists in its present form, so it doesn't have to fulfill promises like accepting vouchers. Unless administrators Deloitte decide to honour HMV's gift cards, you may find yourself out of luck. 

Fortunately, financial guru Martin Lewis of offers advice on rescuing your gift cards as well as bargain hunting at the troubled HMV.

Gift cards

HMV isn't accepting gift cards at the moment, but the administrators could change their minds and accept them -- as was the case in Comet's final sale.

Don't get your hopes up, though; the chain has no obligation to honour your gift card. Martin Lewis explains, "Those who have gift cards are now effectively in that list of people the firm owes money to, but sadly are at the bottom of the pile. So while it's possible if the administrators get money they could give a few pence per pound back, it's unlikely."

The good news is that you could get your money back if you bought the vouchers on your credit or debit card thanks to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, or what's known as 'chargeback'. For full details check out MoneySavingExpert's article about HMV.

Bargain hunt 

If you're not affected by the gift card issue but you're hoping to take advantage of HMV's sale, Martin Lewis warns, "I'd caution against buying online, as HMV could take your money and then later legitimately choose not to fulfil it -- and give you no refund. Buying in-store is safer as you get the goods immediately."

It's a case of buyer beware, however, as you won't be able to return goods that turn out to be faulty. "If HMV were to cease trading, you would therefore be left in the cold. In practical terms, this isn't likely to be too much of a problem for CDs or DVDs, but for higher-end electricals like games consoles, it's worth bearing in mind."

What are your memories of HMV? Are you stuck with gift vouchers, or have you spotted a bargain? And what's the future for the stricken British high street? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.