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House of Fraser to cancel and refund online orders

House of Fraser has announced it will cancel and refund outstanding online orders, but still hasn't given clear info on what's happening with gift cards almost a week after the department store went into administration and was then bought by Sports Direct.

After days of delays, House of Fraser said on Thursday afternoon that it will cancel and refund all outstanding online orders. Affected customers will be emailed in the next few days.

We've seen dozens of emails and tweets from worried customers who are unsure about what's happening – and despite us contacting it every day this week, Sports Direct has failed to answer our questions.

To add to the confusion, House of Fraser's website is currently down – a holding message says the company is "currently working hard to make some improvements" and the site "will be back up and running as soon as possible".

Here's the latest we have on what's happening and what alternative routes you can try to get your money back if you've lost out.

'Ordered nearly a week ago... as yet no confirmation of goods'

Confused customers have been tweeting us and House of Fraser to ask for more information – here are just a few of the queries we've seen:

What if I have an outstanding online order?

After almost a week of confusion, House of Fraser has tweeted:

We don't have any further details about how this will work at the moment or how quickly you'll get a refund, but we'll update this story when we know more.

Got a gift card? There's STILL confusion over what's happening

If you have a House of Fraser gift card, you won't be able to use it in its current form – customers report stores are no longer accepting them.

As House of Fraser had gone into administration before it was purchased by Sports Direct, technically Sports Direct is under no liability to honour gift cards – see more on the rules around this in our Gift card rights guide.

House of Fraser has said that customers who have gift cards can post them to its head office to have them reissued – however, it's not given ANY details of what you'll get as a replacement, so we don't know where you'll be able to spend it, how long it will be valid for or when it'll arrive.

Sports Direct hasn't given any info – when we called the Gateshead House of Fraser on Thursday afternoon we were told the replacement gift card would be valid at House of Fraser and Sports Direct, but we haven't had any official confirmation of this.

So if you've got a gift card, you've two options:

  • Send off for a replacement gift card. As above, there's no real info on what you'll get in return, but this is what House of Fraser has said you should do. Post your card to House of Fraser's head office at Gift Cards, 27 Baker Street, London, W1U 8AH, and include your contact details so the replacement can be sent to you. 

    It's worth getting proof of postage and keeping some evidence such as a picture of your gift card in case there are any problems. Make a note of the reference number too.

  • Get the person who bought it to claim from their credit/debit card firm instead. This could be tricky and there's no guarantee of success, but you could try getting the person who originally bought the card to claim under Section 75 or chargeback rules – assuming they paid for it with a debit or credit card.

    How to go about this depends on how the person who bought the card paid for it:

    • Paid on credit card for a gift card worth more than £100? Try the credit card company. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if you pay for goods that cost between £100 and £30,000 and you pay for any of it on a credit card, the credit company is jointly liable with the retailer if anything goes wrong. What that means is you don't have to go to the retailer – you can choose to go to the credit card company and you have exactly the same consumer rights. 

      There's no guarantee a claim for a gift card will be successful but the Law Commission – which has made recommendations to the Government in this area – told us Section 75 rules DO apply to gift cards, so it may be worth a go. For full info on how to file a claim, see our Section 75 guide.

    • Paid on a debit card (or on a credit card for a gift card worth up to £100)? Try chargeback. There's valuable hidden protection on Visa, Mastercard and Amex credit cards and most debit and charge cards. It's called 'chargeback' and means if you don't receive the goods you bought, you may be able to get your money back.

      Unlike Section 75, this isn't a legal right, but the Law Commission says card providers will usually honour it when companies go into administration. For more info on how this works and how to submit a claim, see our Chargeback guide.

    • Paid via PayPal? Try its protection scheme. If you paid for your card using funds in your PayPal account, you could try its buyer protection scheme to get your money back. If you paid with your credit or debit card via PayPal, you should be able to try either chargeback OR the PayPal protection scheme (you won't be able to get your money back from both).

What are my return rights?

Under House of Fraser's standard returns policy, if you buy something in-store you can return the item within 14 days for a full refund to the original payment method, regardless of whether it's damaged or not. For returns outside of this period but within 28 days, you can exchange the item or be refunded with a gift card.

Again, we haven't had any official word on what's happening from Sports Direct, but from speaking to House of Fraser staff it seems as though these rules do continue to apply for now. We called three stores on Thursday and were told customers can still get refunds for goods bought in-store so long as it's within the returns period.

Under House of Fraser's usual rules online purchases can be returned to store or to a House of Fraser return centre within 28 days of your order for a full refund, and within 35 days for a House of Fraser voucher. We haven't had any official confirmation of whether these rules still apply – we'll update this story when we know more.

What do House of Fraser and Sports Direct say?

We've asked both House of Fraser and Sports Direct a long list of questions, and have had little response. A House of Fraser spokesperson has told us that all media queries are now being handled by Sports Direct, and we haven't had any response to our questions from Sports Direct.

However, a statement posted on House of Fraser's website before it was taken down gave limited information on gift cards. It said: "The business was purchased out of administration for a cash consideration. As a result of this process Sports Direct has no liability to customers in possession of existing gift cards and vouchers.

"However we encourage these customers in possession of gift cards and vouchers to send them into the House of Fraser head office at Gift Cards, 27 Baker Street, London, W1U 8AH, whereby replacements will be issued."

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