Home and garden chain Homebase has stopped accepting a wide array of gift cards and vouchers after being taken over by new owners.
As of 27 May, Homebase no longer accepts the following third-party cards and vouchers as payment: Love2Shop vouchers and Flexecash cards; Bonusbond vouchers and its prepaid Mastercards; Compliments vouchers and cards; and 'A Cards'. Homebase is also set to leave the Nectar scheme at the end of the year.
Homebase told us it's still accepting own-brand Homebase gift vouchers bought in its stores, as well as National Garden gift vouchers.
However, shoppers have been left surprised and angry after other gift cards or vouchers were rejected at the store.
One MoneySaver told us: "Just tried to use a Homebase ['A Card'] gift card and due to the Australian takeover [by Wesfarmers] they are no longer able to be used. The only place you can use them is at Argos."
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Tell me more about the vouchers and gift cards Homebase is no longer accepting
Love2Shop, Compliments (formerly known as Capital Bonds) and Bonusbond are all brands of 'multi-store' gift card or voucher that can be spent at a range of retail chains.
They're commonly given as presents, competition prizes or company rewards for customers or employees. You'll know if you have one because they're clearly branded with the Love2Shop, Compliments or Bonusbond logo.
While all three voucher providers have removed Homebase from their online lists of participating retailers, Bonusbond has yet to remove the brand from the list on its automated telephone line.
'A Cards' are branded with the Homebase logo (and sometimes also Argos's), plus a yellow and red 'A Card' logo in the bottom right-hand corner. They were sold to the public by supermarkets and other third-party retailers, or you may have received one from a company as a competition prize, or part of an employee reward scheme.
What are my rights?
Citizens Advice told us that as long as there is at least one retailer signed up to a dual- or multi-store voucher scheme, those vouchers are considered usable and the voucher company isn't required to refund the purchaser.
- Love2Shop, Compliments and Bonusbond
Love2Shop, Compliments and Bonusbond mention in their online terms and conditions that participating retailers may change over time, so if you're unhappy with the change then unfortunately there's not a lot you can do.
Retailers such as Homebase are able to withdraw from multi-store gift voucher schemes at any time. Even if Homebase is listed or its logo is pictured on your voucher, it can turn it away if it's left the scheme.
People with affected vouchers can't get a refund from Homebase, because they have no contract with the retailer. The contract exists between the person who bought the gift voucher and the gift voucher company – so if, for example, your husband bought you Love2Shop vouchers, he has a contract with Love2Shop.
We asked Love2Shop if it would issue refunds for customers unhappy about the changes, but it didn't want to comment. Bonusbond and Compliments were also contacted for comment but have not responded.
- Argos/Homebase 'A Cards'
These dual-use Homebase/Argos gift cards were issued by Homebase's former owners Home Retail Group, and Wesfarmers are no longer honouring them. However, they can still be spent at Argos.
If you've one of these gift cards and want to spend it at Homebase, sadly there's not a lot you can do. As the card can still be spent at Argos, it's considered usable and you're not entitled to a refund.
But we've heard anecdotally that some customers with these cards have managed to swap them for Homebase's own gift vouchers – which ARE valid in the store – by phoning Homebase's customer service line to complain. This isn't Homebase's official advice though, so we can't promise it'll work.
Homebase is leaving Nectar too – so get your points now
Currently Homebase customers with Nectar cards can collect two Nectar points for every £1 spent online or in store. Those points can be spent on a wide variety of offers and at participating stores. That will end on 31 December 2016, when Homebase leaves the Nectar scheme.
Homebase says: "Following a successful seven-year partnership, and after careful review, it has been agreed that Homebase will leave the Nectar programme at the end of the year. This means customers will no longer be able to collect or spend points in store after 31 December 2016."
So if you're planning to use or collect Nectar points at Homebase, make sure you do it by the end of the year.
What's the background to all these changes?
Home Retail Group sold Homebase in February. Wesfarmers already owns Bunnings – a major home and garden chain in Australia and New Zealand.
It's been widely reported that all Homebase's UK stores will be rebranded as Bunnings within five years, though the firm wouldn't comment on this.