MORE furious shoppers are calling for WH Smith to issue refunds for gift cards that cannot be used in part of its Weymouth store.
Scores of further complaints were received by the Echo after we told how people were left disappointed when they were unable to redeem gift cards on the shop’s CD, DVD and video game stock.
The upstairs section of WH Smith in Weymouth is now operated by BIG concessions, a separate company.
Signs have now been put up outside the store explaining how the vouchers cannot be used on CDs and DVDs.
Kevin Smith, who originally contacted the Echo about the mix-up, said if the signs had been there in the first place it would have saved a lot of bother.
Dorset Trading Standards officers have paid a visit to the store and say they are monitoring the situation.
More than a dozen people have contacted the Echo since Mr Smith first raised concerns.
Weymouth pensioner Ernie Williams, of Newberry Road, had £55 worth of gift vouchers as Christmas presents from family members.
Mr Williams, 84, said: “I was hoping to save up and buy a decent DVD box set to watch. What frustrates me is that no one in the family was told that they couldn’t be spent on CDs and DVDs.
“I buy a lot of DVDs and I feel really down in the dumps that I can’t use the gift vouchers. I would like a refund.”
Shopper Julie Lawton said her son Chris was upset when he tried to buy an Xbox game with his gift card.
She added: “I think it is disgusting that it is not stated on the gift card and there aren’t any notices to say that the card can’t be used to buy any DVDs or games.”
Victor Patterson, a teaching assistant at All Saints School in Weymouth, said he will no longer be giving WH Smith vouchers as prizes for a school chess tournament.
He said: “I was told they could not be spent on CDs or DVDs in the store and for young people this is the obvious purchase.
“What is the point of that? As it is mostly boys who win, a voucher for the other stores in town such as Next or New Look would not be appropriate.”
Chickerell resident Steve Harrison said he was ‘stunned’ he was unable to redeem his £25 voucher to buy music CDs and received a response six weeks after writing to the company’s customer services department to complain.
He said: “The response was typical customer relations speak: ‘Sorry, regret, however’ etc.
“WH Smith do not seem to care really and are just happy to sit back and let the situation carry on. After all, they have got our money and have given nothing in return.”
Maria Figes, of East Street, Weymouth, said she thinks the store’s actions are unfair.
She said: “I’ve found it frustrating not to be able to use the gift cards that I had as presents for Christmas to buy the DVD programmes that I am collecting.”
Martin Thursby, principle Trading Standards officer at Dorset County Council, said officers have spoken to WH Smith head office about the situation.
He added: “We looked at the signage and we made some suggestions about how it could be improved.
“There should be suitable signs alerting people to the fact that you can’t redeem the vouchers at BIG concessions. This needs to be made clear to the purchaser of the gift card.
“We’ve had a number of complaints about this and will be monitoring the situation as it develops.”
WH Smith statement
A WH Smith spokesman said BIG is operated by Music Box Limited and has opened trial concessions in five of its larger stores, where there have historically been high levels of demand for entertainment products.
She added: “In many locations we have wound down our own entertainment offer, but in these stores there is still some customer demand.
“In our other stores, where we have seen a tail-off in demand for CDs and console games, we no longer sell these products.
“The concession is clearly branded and signage explains to customers that WH Smith gift cards cannot be used at the BIG tills in store.
“WH Smith gift cards cannot currently be used in any concessions operating in our stores.
“We would prefer to be able to offer our customers the flexibility to use WH Smith gift cards in concessions and we are actively working on a solution to enable customers to use WH Smith gift cards in BIG concessions, and other concessions, within our stores.
“We apologise for any disappointment caused.”