Bad deal is on the cards

Katie Cutts mum, Nicola Carter with the Meadowhall gift card at her Parkhill, Sheffield home.
Katie Cutts mum, Nicola Carter with the Meadowhall gift card at her Parkhill, Sheffield home.
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MEADOWHALL has finally bowed to pressure and scrapped a fee which reduced the value of its gift cards – but replaced it with a scheme that could cost you far more.

A controversial £2-a-month charge on cards more than a year old has been ditched.

Yesterday an ‘enhanced’ product was launched, but it expires after just one year – taking ALL the money on it.

Gift cards can be preloaded with up to £500, but under the new system every penny would be lost the day it was a year old.

The move has been blasted by customers and experts alike.

Nicola Carter, aged 38, of Park Hill, said: “It looks as if they are helping people by scrapping the fee, but I’m not fooled. They’ll be making far more from cards that expire with money still on them. A year isn’t very long at all.”

Simon Lambert, personal finance editor of thisismoney.com, said: “It seems like a way of making extra profit while generating ill feeling.

“There’s no practical reason why cards should expire – the interest earned would pay for the scheme. It seems very unfair.”

Action Desk campaigned for Meadowhall to ditch the £2-a-month charge after readers complained.

In the worst case, Yewlands College in Parson Cross spent £400 on low value cards in March 2009, and they were all worthless when they were handed out late last year. Meadowhall refunded the money. Big chains including M&S, Next, Debenhams, Waterstones and TK Maxx sell gift cards which expire after two years of not being used, but do not have maintenance fees. John Lewis vouchers never expire.

A MEADOWHALL spokeswoman said: “Following an annual review which considers customers’ feedback, Meadowhall has launched an enhanced gift card programme. After 12 months any unspent funds on the card can no longer be redeemed.

“We believe the scheme is fair and transparent. Terms of use and expiry are clearly stated on the gift card. We feel 12 months is a sufficient period for customers to redeem the full value.”