Have you got a crumpled old gift voucher sitting around that you won’t get around to spending before its expiry date? Maybe you’ve acquired gift vouchers for shops you don’t like or are too far away from you?
If so, there’s a solution. Zeek is a smartphone app which acts a marketplace for unwanted gift cards and vouchers.
Vouchers are sold on the app for cash at less than face value. This means people who receive unwanted vouchers for Christmas should have little trouble offloading them, while buyers can save money by buying them cheaply.
How does it work?
First you need to download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
If you’re selling a gift voucher you need to open an account with Zeek then list your voucher for sale. Most vouchers are listed at a 2-20% discount.
A message will be sent to you when your voucher has been bought. You then send the voucher to the Zeek offices through registered post.
Once the voucher has arrived and been verified, payment will be sent to your account within 14 business days by either bank transfer or PayPal.
If you want to buy a voucher, you simply open the app, select the voucher you want to buy and pay using credit card or PayPal. You’ll receive the voucher within seven business days or immediately if it’s an electronic voucher.
There are some decent discounts on offer on Zeek: a £96 Abercrombie & Fitch gift card for £77 (20% discount); a £30 Whistles voucher for £26 (13% discount); a £50 Space NK gift card for £45 (10% discount); and a £40 Pizza Express voucher for £37 (8% discount) among others at the time of writing.
Do people still buy gift vouchers?
Gift vouchers are big business. The UK Gift Card and Voucher Association values the UK market at over £5 billion.
But it says £300 million of gift vouchers went unspent last year.
In its own research Zeek found that 54% of men and 62% of women get between one and five gift cards or vouchers a year. But up to 47% of gift cards received go unredeemed because recipients either don't like the store they're for, or they lose them.
Men are more likely to let a gift card expire with 51% of those surveyed saying they had let a gift card expire. Yorkshire is the area in which most gift cards go unredeemed, followed by London, then Scotland and the Midlands in joint third place.
According to Zeek, most of us would sell an unwanted gift card or voucher for less than face value – unless we live in London. 51% of Londoners surveyed said they wouldn't sell it for less than face value.
The pitfalls of gift vouchers
Apart from the obvious downside of receiving a gift voucher for a shop you either don’t like or isn’t near you, gift vouchers have other disadvantages too.
Firstly, most come with an expiry date. This could be anything from six months to 10 years although many never expire.
Previously gift cards for posh department store Harvey Nichols expired in just six months, but it has recently boosted this to 24 months after pressure from campaigners to bring the expiration in line with other retailers.
However, you still can’t use them online, which with only a handful of stores scattered across the country could mean you lose out while Harvey Nichols pockets the cash
What if a shop goes bust?
The past few years have seen plenty of high street stalwarts go into administration – Phones4U, La Senza and Woolworths, for example.
Although it might not seem fair, once a store is in the hands of administrators they are allowed to change the rules surrounding gift vouchers and cards, even if the shops are still open and trading.
Usually the shops won’t honour gift vouchers or refund them. People holding gift vouchers effectively become creditors of the company in question and they’ll be at the bottom of the list and so are unlikely to get any of their money back.
This is a classic loveMONEY article that has been updated