They're great, aren't they? I'm handing out loads at Christmas
No they're not. As customers of electrical chain Comet discovered to their horror last weekend they're worthless if retailers decide not to accept them.
Hang on, shops can't do that, can they?
Yes. In Comet's case, the chain went into administration last week. So it is currently being run by bean counters who immediately told stores to refuse gift cards. In fact a similar thing happened earlier this year when Game went bust.
But surely I'll get something back?
If you're lucky. Comet's administrators did a U-turn midweek and agreed to accept the cards, which was a huge relief to those with cards worth hundreds of pounds. But in the past others have lost out, as will many in the future.
Are more shops going to go bust then?
Yes. Some 29 major high street retailers have collapsed so far this year, including such familiar names as Past Times, Clinton Cards and JJB Sports. The bloodbath is set to continue as shoppers flock to the internet.
So what can I use for Christmas gifts?
Cash or a cheque is the only financially secure thing to send through the post – but then you risk theft in transit. It's safer to transfer money direct to someone's bank account.