Follow by email

Friday, 18 February 2011

Book tokens may be akin to burning money in the current unsure future

Borders US have said that their book tokens will still be honoured at online stores now that the brick and mortar business have gone into administration, but reports are surfacing that people left with Borders Book Tokens that have not been redeemed are being left high and dry, their tokens now valueless. When Borders UK went bust a few years ago they made this statement - "Borders vouchers are legally speaking unsecured creditors & although we don't have to honour the vouchers we will accept them - at only 50% of face value." And there was an interesting debate on this subject in a recent episode of the online writing show, Litopia and the legal experts confirmed that book token holders are indeed unsecured creditors. And legally once a store goes into administrator, chapter 11 in the US, the tokens become worthless pieces of paper.

On a related matter The Archive received the following email from Keith Chapman AKA western author, Chap O'Keefe who is very much the Archive's correspondent down under:

"Real" booksellers are in trouble everywhere, though it's hard to have 
much sympathy given the poor service most of the "big boys" have 
provided for years. It's easy enough to blame online sales and ebooks, 
but many of the retail chains were doing a lousy job long before the new 
ways made a mark, and this probably encouraged many of us to use the 
alternatives in the first place.
The Australian owners of Whitcoulls, New Zealand's oldest and largest 
chain, have just placed it in "voluntary administration". What this 
means would take a while to explain, but the most shocking part is the 
bookseller's announcement it no longer has to honour its book 
tokens/gift cards/vouchers.
One customer, Kerry Vujnovich, told TVNZ News she wasn't happy about 
what she was told.
"I went in this morning to redeem my voucher that I got for my birthday 
for $100 and when I got to the counter I got told I'd have to spend an 
additional $100 to be able to use the voucher,"  Vujnovich said.
Whitcoulls has said customers who have gift cards, would have to spend 
twice the face value of the card. For example, to redeem a gift card 
with a $30 face value, the customer must make a total purchase of $60 or 
more and the $30 voucher will be taken off that purchase price.
Here are a couple of angry comments from TVNZ's website
) :
"Surely there is something written into consumer protection law that 
prevents them doing this with gift vouchers. It's got to be 
misrepresentation or even fraud if the gift vouchers are not accepted 
for the purpose they were sold as. Did we once have a Ministry of 
Consumer Affairs? The sooner this company goes bust the better."
"I stopped buying things from Whitcoulls years ago because their prices 
were too steep. After seeing what they're doing with vouchers I will 
make sure I never buy anything from Whitcoulls or any of those 
Australian-owned stores again. What they are doing with vouchers is 
soooo wrong!"
With its new policy on its tokens, I can't see Whitcoulls having much 
chance of trading its way out of its difficulties. The whole caboodle is 
likely to collapse, leaving many towns and shopping malls up and down 
the country with no bookshops whatsoever.

No comments: