Zavvi Christmas vouchers 'worthless'

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The Independent Online

People given Zavvi gift vouchers for Christmas will be disappointed if they try to use them: the beleaguered entertainment retailer's administrators yesterday said that the tokens were worthless in stores and would not be accepted.

Angry shoppers were unable to spend the gifts on the cut-price books, CDs and DVDs in Zavvi's "Clearout" sale. A spokeswoman for the company's administrators, Ernst and Young, confirmed the problem: "Correct, it's not possible for vouchers to be spent in stores." Some stores have taken to carrying notices outlining the ban. A short message on the Zavvi website urged owners of vouchers bought after 27 November to write to the joint administrators in the hope of receiving a full refund, which should be "expected".

However, those with vouchers bought before this date will have to register an unsecured claim, and have a much slimmer chance of a refund.

Zavvi, which went into administration on Christmas Eve, released a statement: "Due to the large volumes of gift card vouchers that are currently outstanding it is not possible to discuss individual customer queries in person at this stage."

Its 125 stores opened as normal on Boxing Day for the post-Christmas sales. However, the jobs of more than 3,400 workers remain insecure. Some of Zavvi's troubles began earlier this month with the collapse of Woolworths' Entertainment UK wholesaling division, EUK, which was Zavvi's main supplier. Its demise left Zavvi unable to take customer orders and renew stock during the run-in to the holiday period.

Zavvi was formed from a management buyout of Virgin Megastore in September last year, when Sir Richard Branson sold the music chain to Zavvi's chief executive, Simon Douglas, for a reported nominal fee of £1.

Other high-profile casualties of the high street economic gloom have included The Officer's Club, Whittard of Chelsea, MFI, Woolworths and the children's clothes specialist Adams.