Use 'em quick, say those who vouch for vouchers
Shoppers in Belfast city centre have expressed mixed feelings about buying gift vouchers in light of the uncertainty facing House of Fraser customers.
Margaret McCammick (60) was among those surprised that so many customers of "such a big name store" could find themselves in such circumstances, but has no fear of being caught out herself.
"I would very rarely buy them as a gift for someone and I rarely receive them, mainly because it takes me too long to spend them," she said.
However, her husband David said the risk of a company failing is always at the back of his mind.
University student Molly Temple (20) has no qualms about continuing to receive gift cards due to her ability to use them quickly.
"There are certain things, such as make-up counters, which make them easy to spend. If I get a voucher it is gone in no time and I know my whole family would be the same. They only burn a hole in your pocket otherwise," she said.
Full-time mum Alyss Turner (21) also has no fear, as she is not a hoarder. "It's gone almost immediately, but I don't tend to buy vouchers for other people as I plan months in advance, I'm never caught out by the pressure," she said.
Ashleigh Dawson (43), who regularly buys gift cards for her nephews and nieces, said the House of Fraser fiasco has caused her to hesitate.
"I send them as birthday and Christmas presents but this has definitely made me think twice," she said.
"I also have a gift card at the moment with £30 on it for another store; if it was a larger amount I would certainly be in a rush to get rid of it."
John McCavana (86) purchased a gift card from a baby store following the birth of his great-granddaughter six weeks ago, but said he was unaware of the risks involved.
"Why would you sell them if this can happen?" he asked. "I don't buy them regularly, it was crisp £50s in my day, which seems to be the best way."
Sarah Burrell (32) was out shopping yesterday but left her gift cards at home. She is a big fan of vouchers and actively encourages friends and relatives to buy them for her when it comes to exchanging presents.
"I normally buy them from big brands, which you assume is safe, but then I suppose people felt like that about House of Fraser," she said.
"I'm not sure I would go back to somebody to ask them to pursue a refund from their credit card issuer, though. It would be a bit awkward."
Sarah's partner George Chatburn (25) said he is now more cautious of gift cards and would find it awkward pursuing a refund through the buyer's credit card company.
"I don't think I would buy a gift card now as a general rule," he said.
"If someone gave me one and the company went bust I would probably just let it go, unless it was a huge amount."