People warned over giving Christmas gift cards as presents this year
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Are you prepared for Christmas? And by that I mean do you have all your presents wrapped up and tagged already or are you more of a 'buy the whole lot on Amazon the week before' kind of person?
If you fall into the latter group, you might be considering gift cards as a quick and easy option to satisfy the consumerist demands of this time of year.
However, Which? has warned people to be wary of this choice of present at this time of year, as it could very well leave you out of pocket.
According to statistics shared with The Sun, the consumer choice brand found that a significant number of shoppers received gift cards from companies that went bust.
These findings were the result of a survey which asked 2,000 participants about their experiences over the past two years.
A whopping 7 percent said they'd been left out of pocket after being given a voucher for a retailer which had since collapsed.
Although this is obviously a worst case scenario, with the economic situation in the UK right now, experts at Which? have said to stay vigilant so you don't end up throwing money away this Christmas.
Lisa Webb, Which? consumer rights expert, told the outlet: "While often a popular choice for hard-to-please friends and family, Which? is advising consumers to think twice before buying gift cards this festive season.
"With the economic outlook uncertain, you could be left high and dry if the company goes bust."
The survey also found that one in five of the gift cards from collapsed stores had been for Arcadia Group companies, which include Topshop and Miss Selfridge.
After the retailing multinational went into administration in 2020, some of its shops only allowed buyers to use their vouchers on 50 percent of their orders, meaning they had to pay for the rest using their own money.
In addition to this issue, Webb suggested to keep an eye out for expiration dates.
"If you receive a gift card for Christmas, make sure to carefully check the small print to find the expiry date and make sure you won’t face any unexpected charges if you don’t spend your voucher quickly," she said.
In short, gift cards aren't totally off the table this Christmas - but if you do go down this route, just be wary of the company's current situation.
If you receive any as gifts, be sure to make use of it before it goes out of date.
And for those of you who've still not sent off your cards or presents yet, you will need to get a move on if you want them to arrive in time.
A few weeks ago it was announced that members of the CWU union has decided to take national strike action amid calls for better pay.
Workers are taking strike action again this week, starting today and continuing on 15, 23, and 24 December.
So if you're planning on sending a card to a family member or friend, you really don't have long left.
According to the Royal Mail, the last recommended day for sending 2nd class letters, signed for and Royal Mail 48 letters and parcels was... Monday (12 December).
Which isn't much use now for those of us who are well behind on our festive organisation, is it?
Thankfully there's still time left, as 1st class post, 1st class signed for, Royal Mail 24 and Royal Mail Tracked 48 will still be an option until this Friday (16 December).
You can also use Royal Mail Tracked 24 right up until 19 December for arrivals by Christmas Day - although it's best to err on the side of caution this year if you don't want your loved ones to be left empty handed this year.