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Debenhams falls into administration – your rights

Debenhams falls into administration – your rights

Debenhams PLC has fallen into administration – here's what you need to know on store closures, gift cards and return rights.

The firm went into administration earlier this month, but chairman Terry Duddy says Debenhams stores will "continue trading as normal", and will aim to protect as many stores and jobs as possible as part of a restructure.

It's now named 22 stores it plans to close in 2020, which will affect 1,200 staff members.

While Debenhams says it should be business as usual, Martin explains below there are some additional risks. Debenhams says all orders are being honoured, and that customers can carry on using gift cards and returning items as usual.

And it has also said there will be no changes to the Debenhams rewards club and personal finance products, including its credit card, insurance and travel money services.

Debenhams is the latest in a string of retailers to go into administration, including HMVToys R UsMaplin and House of Fraser, which was later bought by Sports Direct.

Martin: 'Personally, I wouldn't be buying gift cards'

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Clearly, Debenhams is not in the most stable state at the moment. So personally I wouldn't be buying anyone any gift vouchers from there in the future (although that doesn’t mean much as I would always suggesting avoiding gift cards and vouchers anywhere anyway).

"I'd also be very careful if I was ordering something now for delivery a decent amount of time in the future, and buying any items that might break down because returns can be difficult too if a firm goes bust.

"Having said that, if Debenhams is at the right price and right place for you, and you want to buy something there, there are ways to protect yourself. If goods are over £100, buy them on a credit card – although do repay in full – so that you get Section 75 protection, and otherwise pay on a debit card or credit card to get chargeback protection.

"I would certainly be wary of paying for any larger items with cash or cheque because that gives you no protection at all."

Which stores are closing?

On Friday (26 April), Debenhams named 22 stores which are set to be closed in 2020. They are:

  • Altrincham
  • Ashford
  • Birmingham Fort
  • Canterbury 
  • Chatham
  • Eastbourne
  • Folkestone
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Guildford
  • Kirkcaldy
  • Orpington
  • Slough
  • Southport
  • Southsea
  • Staines
  • Stockton
  • Walton
  • Wandsworth
  • Welwyn Garden City
  • Wimbledon
  • Witney
  • Wolverhampton

It says outstanding orders and returns WILL be honoured

Debenhams says that all outstanding orders, refunds and returns will be honoured, but if you do have a Debenhams purchase you've been meaning to return, it's worth doing so sooner rather than later, as this could change.

If you make a purchase from Debenhams now, you may want to use a debit card, or a credit card if the purchase costs over £100.

This will give you some extra protection as you'll be able to make a claim through Section 75 for credit cards if something goes wrong, or try to claim through chargeback on a debit card – though in this situation, a refund's not guaranteed as chargeback is a customer service promise rather than a legal obligation.

See our Section 75 guide for more information.

It says gift cards WILL still be accepted – but be careful

Debenhams says gift cards will continue to be honoured, so if you have one, you can still spend it.

And it's now confirmed that if the company is sold, any new owners would also need to honour gift cards.

But remember that with any gift card, you've no protection if things go wrong – so it's always wise to spend them sooner rather than later.

It says personal finance products WON'T be affected

Debenhams says there will be no changes to its credit card and insurance services.

And it's worth remembering the actual credit and insurance for these products is provided by external organisations rather than Debenhams itself – for example, NewDay provides the credit for the Debenhams credit card.

As a result, Debenhams says personal finance customers wouldn't be affected regardless of any changes at Debenhams.