All you need to know about your rights when a retailer goes into administration, including what happens if you have gift vouchers, want to return something, or have an extended warranty.
Unfortunately it seems to be an increasing trend for high street retailers to go into administration.
But what happens if you haven't received a product or a service from a shop that goes bust?
Here we answer the most common questions asked when a shop goes bust.
Can I use my gift vouchers?
A number of high street stores have refused to allow customers to use vouchers once they'd gone into administration - even though they had already accepted money for them. Unfortunately, this is within the law.
However, it is worth waiting a few days to see if the administrator will change its mind.
If your vouchers are refused, you need to make a claim in writing to the administrators with proof of your vouchers.
The names of those administrators are usually on the website of the company which has gone into administration.
But 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.
Use our template letter to claim a refund for vouchers from a bust company.
Can I make a chargeback claim if my vouchers aren't accepted?
As long as a company is accepting gift vouchers chargeback claims will not be accepted.
If this doesn't happen, and you bought vouchers on your card, you should be able to put in a chargeback request to your bank on the grounds that the vouchers are fundamentally different to what you paid for.
This is because you expected to be able to exchange them for goods of a certain value and instead they are worthless.
If the vouchers were given to you as a gift it is trickier to make the argument. The person who received a gift voucher as a gift can't make a claim, but the person who bought the vouchers could put in a chargeback request to the bank.
But be aware, there is no guarantee that the administrators will accept these claims.
Can I return items that I've bought at a store that has gone into administration?
It depends. Once a retailer goes into administration the administrator's role is to try and save the company, and in doing so, it may take the decision not to accept returns.
However, if you bought an item that comes with a warranty and it is faulty, you should be able to claim a refund or repair from the manufacturer under the terms of the warranty.
You may be able to make a claim on an extended warranty, if cover was provided by a third party (e.g. an insurance company).
Normally, you have a right to return faulty items, but once a company goes into administration, this is invalid.
If you have a faulty item, you could register your claim with the administrators for the cost of fixing the item, or your money back if there is still time to reject the item.
If you paid for goods under £100 on a credit or debit card, you may be able to claim under chargeback.
If the value of your goods exceeded £100, you can claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Can I use my manufacturer's warranty?
If the retailer goes bust and the goods are faulty, then your manufacturer's warranty should cover you for at least the first year. Check your documentation to see if this is the case.
If you’ve been supplied with faulty goods and the company is placed into administration but is still trading, you may be able to get a replacement or a refund for your item in the normal way under the Sale of Goods Act.
Check the small print carefully to see who actually provided the warranty cover. Often it’s provided by a third party (an insurance company, for example) in which case you shouldn’t be affected if a store does cease trading.
If cover was provided by the retailer in question, then it depends on what happens at the end of the administration. If the retailer ceased to trade then unfortunately you would lose the benefit of the extended warranty.
Remember that you will usually get a manufacturer’s guarantee with an item which will provide some protection for the first year - sometimes even longer.
I was supposed to get cash-back as part of my purchase, will I still get this?
It depends on how the cash-back offer is set up.
Check the terms and conditions to see whether the offer is backed by the manufacturer (ie they'll send the cash as long as you claim in the way specified), or that the cash-back claim should be made to the retailer.
If the manufacturer is providing the cash-back, your claim shouldn't be affected. If it's the retailer, you could still put in a claim and they would be in breach of contract if they didn't send the cash.
If you didn't get the cash, unfortunately you couldn't take court action against the retailer while it's in administration.
If at the end of the administration the retailer stopped trading, you'd need to lodge your claim for unpaid cash-back with the administrators.
Can I claim from my credit card company?
If you've bought something on your credit card costing more than £100, the card provider is jointly responsible for any breaches of contract.
For example, you could ask for a refund if the things you bought weren't delivered or, you could claim for the cost of a repair if they were faulty.
Write to your credit card company with details of your claim. You can use our template letter to claim a refund from your credit card company if a retailer has gone bust.
If you’ve paid by debit card you may be able to claim through the MasterCard and Visa chargeback scheme, as long as it hasn’t been more than 120 days since paying on your debit card and making your claim.
I only paid a deposit on my credit card, can I still claim?
You don't have to have paid the full amount on your credit card – the card company is liable even if you made only part of the payment (a deposit, say) on your card.
It's the value of the goods you're buying that is key - not the amount paid on the card. As long as the value of the product is between £100 and £30,000 then you will be covered, regardless of how much you paid on your card.
So, for example, if you ordered a new camera and paid a £50 deposit with your credit card and paid the balance of £500 by cheque, you'd be covered for the whole £550 if the company went out of business and you didn't get your camera.