Deloitte, the administrator handling Comet's recent woes, has announced that the chain will accept Comet gift cards still held by members of the public. In addition, gift cards issued on behalf of the charity Family Fund will also be accepted.
It is perhaps the latter that has provoked the relatively rare move by a company in administration. While Zavvi refused to honour gift cards after it went into administration and GAME suspended trading until a buyer was found, the Comet case was attacked more heavily by the British press after the store's refusal to honour a £500 gift card from four-year-old Samuel Horton, who has cerebral palsy and was given the card by the Family Fund.
This very public case caused an outcry and Deloitte has moved quickly to avoid a massive PR disaster, especially as it is running Comet as a going concern in lieu of finding a buyer to bail it out.
"Following our appointment as administrators to Comet at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, it was necessary to temporarily suspend the acceptance of gift cards as a means for payment in order to allow the joint administrators time to assess the financial position of the company and collate information about the quantity, value and nature of gift cards in circulation," said Neville Kahn, joint administrator and restructuring services partner at Deloitte.
“Having now had the opportunity to do so, we are very pleased to inform Comet customers that the company will be able to accept gift cards which have been purchased and paid for in full by members of the public. We are also pleased to announce that the company will be able to accept and honour gift cards issued on behalf of the charity Family Fund."
That does not mean, however, that all gift cards will be accepted. Those issues by a corporate customer are still suspended.
"At this stage, it is necessary to maintain the temporary suspension on gift cards which have been issued to people on behalf of a corporate customer, for example by insurers, pending clarification from the relevant providers as to whether Comet has received payment in full for these cards," said Khan.
"We recognise that the temporary suspension of gift cards has caused concern and anxiety to those customers affected. In the short time available since our appointment the administrators have worked urgently to bring clarity to this matter, while at the same time stabilising the business and seeking a buyer. We are very grateful to customers for their patience in allowing us time to properly assess the situation."
Hopefully, a buyer will be found to save the high street electronics chain, and the thousands of jobs at risk. If not, Dixons Retail has revealed that it will be offering hundreds of Christmas jobs to Comet employees who find themselves out of work during the holiday period.