Man warns of hidden costs of birthday gift cards

Philip Bullen is warning people to be aware that some experience gift cards are poor value and more

Philip Bullen is warning people to be aware that some experience gift cards are poor value and more trouble than they are worth Photo: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

A Great Yarmouth grandfather is warning people to be wary of gift experience cards that come with hidden costs and restrictions.

Philip Bullen, 65, of Beatty Road, says a treat trip to Cromer would have cost more than three times the face value of the vouchers, a gift for his milestone birthday.

The business development manager said his wife Christine paid £140.76 for the two gift cards called Dinner Date and Time Together from WH Smith.

Under the deal he said he could only book out of season with check-in times that gave him just 30 hours to use the facilities.

The meal vouchers also came with terms and conditions and there was a supplement of £25 a night to stay over a weekend.

The couple, who have been married for four years, hoped for a weekend away in Cromer in August but the earliest they could book as a Buyagift guest was in October.

Overall he calculated the £140 weekend away would cost closer to £400.

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He said: “We thought we were going to have a nice couple of days away at a hotel we had paid for, although we realised we would have to pay a bit extra.

“My wife had no idea that her £140 gift was actually going to cost me £400.

“If I wasn’t aware, and bought one say for a newly wed couple when they tried to use it, and found how much extra they were going to have to pay, they probably would just keep quiet and not use the voucher, I’d be none the wiser, and would have lost the purchase amount.”

A spokesman for WH Smith said: ““We are currently in discussion with the customer to issue a refund and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

A Buyagift spokesman said: “During peak periods such as school holidays, a small number of suppliers we work with may have restriction periods or charge small supplements to accommodate bookings and these are disclosed on our website in the fine print before a customer makes a booking. These reflect the supplier’s own seasonal rates or limitations due to high demand. If any customer is unhappy with any element of their experience, our in-house customer service team are easily contactable.”