The least surprising story this week was Debenhams. Seemingly in trouble for years, it’s now in the hands of its lenders. Although stores are still open, there will inevitably be closures: just what the high streets of the UK need.
Our local Debenhams could be one for the chop. I must admit I only ever use it as a cut through to the main shopping centre as it’s easy to park right outside. I can’t remember the last time I bought something there. But I have seen a pair of curtains for half price in the Debenhams online sale which would be good for the spare room. Would I risk buying them now? Probably not. They cost less than £100 so even if I paid on my credit card, I wouldn’t be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This covers you if the item(s) you are buying cost more than £100 and the goods are faulty or don’t arrive.
However there is a scheme which might protect me that’s less well known called chargeback. It works for debit cards as well as credit cards unlike the Consumer Credit Act which is for credit cards only. Actually card companies Visa, Mastercard and Amex each have their own chargeback schemes rather than there being one scheme for all. For all the details, this article covers everything about chargeback. But basically the important things to take from it are that you can have spent on a credit or debit card; it can be any amount (or for at least £10 with Mastercard) and importantly, you only have a limited time to claim your money back – usually within 120 days of purchase. The way chargeback works is that the card company asks for your money back from the supplier’s bank – not the company. So even if the company has failed you should get your money back rather than having to join the queue of creditors. However, chargeback is voluntary unlike the Consumer Credit Act. Moneysavingexpert points out that plenty of bank staff may never have heard of it. If your purchase is for more than £100 and on a credit card, do use the Consumer Credit Act rather than chargeback: it’s just better known and you might get your money back quicker.
Anyway, back to Debenhams. This is a developing story so things could change. But if I had a Debenhams gift voucher I’d be spending it in store now. And I’ll go without the new window coverings now that seems to be curtains for Debenhams…..