Why there is inconsistency in stricken businesses honouring gift vouchers

Sources suggest HMV has £6m in gift vouchers it will not redeem. Credit: PA

Gift vouchers are business worth £4 billion a year in Britain.

But when Trent Park Under-13s football team got HMV vouchers, they soon found they were not worth the paper they're printed on.

Today we spoke to them about their disappointment and anger. They simply can't understand how a shop that is still trading can fail to fulfil its promise.

Industry sources told us that HMV has £6 million pounds in unredeemed vouchers - though its insolvency team wont confirm a figure.

  • JJB Sports has £1.4 million in vouchers not honoured

  • Jessops has £800,000 in unredeemed vouchers

  • Peacocks has £750,000 worth

One problem is a lack of consistency.

When Edinburgh Woollen Mill took over Peacocks, it didn't honour their gift vouchers.

Comet didn't at first - then reversed and did.

JD did when it took over Blacks. While Blockbuster is honouring, HMV and Jessops are not.

Rob Hunt is the administrator who made that unpopular decision. Today he explained to me that in that case it was never going to be possible to honour gift voucher.

The reason is that Jessops did not even own most of its stock - legal title was retained by manufacturers and suppliers (known in the trade as "ROT": retention of title).

With no specific law in place, insolvency teams get wide discretion.

At times, customers voucher cash has been diverted to pay off companies' debts.

And it's all leading to a breakdown in trust, threatening to change the way Britain gives its gifts.