A FINANCIAL adviser from Wearside is calling on the Government to change a law which sees consumers lose out when gift cards become worthless.
Just this month, thousands of people thought they had been left out of pocket after high street retailer HMV went into administration and initially said customers would no longer be allowed to use gifts cards and vouchers.
Many turned up to cash in the vouchers – many of which were Christmas gifts – only to be turned away by staff.
However, HMV’s administrators, accountancy firm Deloitte, have now done a U-turn and said the company will accept gift vouchers.
Photography firm Jessops and DVD rental shop Blockbuster have also fallen into trouble in the past weeks.
Now independent financial adviser John Bloomfield has set up an online petition which he says will see consumers protected should a company end up in administration.
Mr Bloomfield, of Grasswell, in Houghton, says he wants gift card and voucher funds to be held in trust
Scores of people have backed his calls by signing the petition.
“I think the law that we have at the minute is wrong,” said Mr Bloomfield.
“It treats consumers as a creditor, but the real creditors are trying to make money so they know there is a risk there.”
Mr Bloomfield says two options for the changes could be considered: either all revenue from gift cards should be held in a trustee account until the gift card has been redeemed or expired, or a higher level of creditor class is created for gift cards, so they can be redeemed during a period of administration.
“Money could be held in trust so that if the company goes bust they can still claim goods,” added Mr Bloomfield.
“Legally, it’s not very difficult to set up and I think it needs to be started.”
Mr Bloomfield added that his campaign was not inspired by the actions of any company in particular and thinks that it would significantly improve consumer rights.
“It’s not just about HMV, but I suppose what’s happened with them is highlighting the issue,” he said.
“Personally, with being a financial adviser, I would never advise anybody to buy gift cards and I never give them to anyone myself.
“If I do get given one, I spend it immediately.”
To sign the petition, which already has more than 70 signatures, go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44513.