Austin Reed gift card holders should redeem their coupons as soon as possible after the 116-year-old tailoring brand followed fellow high street retailer BHS in sliding into administration this week.
Customers of Austin Reed are now only able to redeem gift cards in store (not online) and will not be able to get refunds on items bought before 26 April, as part of policy changes introduced by administrators from Alix Partners.
The company will continue to trade online and in store for the time being as Alix Partners looks for a rescue deal.
This week Austin Reed, which has more than 100 shops and 50 concessions within department stores, became the second major high street casualty after British shopping institution BHS called administrators in – read our story on how BHS's plight impacts you.
For full info on what happens when a firm goes into administration, see our Administration Help guide.
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I've placed an order – will I receive it?
The Austin Reed administrators have confirmed that for the time being all outstanding orders should be delivered. However, when we contacted the customer services team, they added that this may change in future depending on what the administrators decide to do with the retailer.
The role of the administrators is to calculate the value of the business and it may be that they decide Austin Reed can't afford to meet existing orders, although in cases where the business continues to trade after going into administration this is rare.
While you can still buy items online it's much safer to do so in store as there is no guarantee the company will be able to deliver items you order on the web. When a company goes into administration, you should always minimise risk by making sure you'll receive your items the moment they're paid for.
What happens if I want to return something?
As a result of being in administration, Austin Reed has already altered its returns policy. Previously customers had 28 days to return items by post or in store; however, these policies have been restricted while administrators look at the business.
The customer service agent we spoke to confirmed that shoppers who make purchases from Austin Reed from 26 April onwards are currently able to get a refund on unwanted or faulty items within 28 days if they return the item in store, but again this could change depending on the decisions of the administrators.
Customers who bought goods from Austin Reed before 26 April are not entitled to refunds at all and can currently only get an exchange for items of the same value or less on goods that are faulty if they are taken back to the store.
However, customers do have additional legal rights, with Trading Standards and Citizens Advice confirming that, even if in administration, firms that continue to trade do need to adhere to the Consumer Rights Act. Under this, customers have 30 days to return faulty items for a full refund.
What if I paid on a credit card?
If you paid for some or all of your purchase on a credit card – and it was worth over £100 – you should be able to get your money back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if your items are faulty or don't arrive.
This means that regardless of the rights you have with Austin Reed, you have separate rights with your credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act. It's a legal protection that credit card companies have no choice but to offer.
But there is a catch – the £100 minimum does not apply to the total bill, but to individual items. So if your bill comes to £300, but the cost of your individual items is less than £100, you won't be able to claim. See our Section 75 guide for more info.
If you paid with a Visa or Mastercard debit card for any amount, or Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card for goods under £100, you could also try the chargeback system. This is where your bank gets cash back from the company's payment processing bank.
This isn't a legal protection, however, unlike Section 75. Chargeback's designed so that if you pay for something, and that order isn't fulfilled or a mistake is made, your bank can do a chargeback from the bank that originally collected the payment. We've more info on this in our Chargeback guide.
What if I have a pre-paid gift card?
The administrators for Austin Reed have confirmed that the company is currently accepting gift cards, but that these can only be redeemed in store and not online.
However, usually when a company goes into liquidation, it does not have to honour gift cards. This means there is a chance the administrators may stop these being accepted at a later date, so it is worth spending any gift cards as soon as possible.
If the company were to refuse to accept your gift card, you would be able to register as a creditor with the administrators. Once the company's debts and employees' salaries had been paid then you may receive some money back from the company. However, it is unlikely to be anywhere near the full amount.
What will happen to Austin Reed staff?
While the business is continuing to trade as normal, there are 1,184 jobs currently at risk. If you work for Austin Reed and are concerned about your rights, check our Redundancy guide.