The first had a query. I’m not sure who it came from as it was handwritten and faxed (from Cobham in Surrey) and I couldn’t read the signature. What I could decipher said that a lot of customers send in vouchers along with a cheque to pay for their monthly news bill. Some send vouchers which are not for the current bill, perhaps over a month old. The writer says they have contacted both The Telegraph and The Times to ask for how long the vouchers are valid and they have said it is down to the suppliers. But these suppliers don’t return calls so the retailer is still none the wiser. I would say that if there is no expiry date the offer remains valid. Just send them in and claim.
David Hankey emailed from his business, Great Easton PO & Stores in Leicestershire, to say: “Having traded for in excess of 13 years one thing I have learnt is that every single piece of paperwork from WH Smith, our wholesaler, needs to be checked. I appreciate the fact that all WHS does is hand on the voucher envelope we return each week to NCH but, at the end of the day, that is not of our making.”
David says he takes 20 minutes every Sunday after closing to collate and evaluate all the vouchers handed in that week but when the WHS credits arrive there is invariably a miscount and practically always in their favour. He then notifies by fax the error and expects a credit for the discrepancy the following week. If it doesn’t appear, he simply deducts it from the next bill with an appropriate note.
An Oldham retailer who doesn’t want his name used contacted me to say WHS used to check his voucher claims but he believes it became swamped. “WHS did supply me with a list but it was so complicated with so many variations that I started to compile my own. I send that to WHS and they send it to NCH.”
If the credit is wrong, he rings WHS customer services and asks them to check it and this usually results in the credit being applied.
“When I do send in, it’s hundreds of vouchers,” he says. “You can imagine what a hell of a job it must be checking them all.”
And, finally, I’ve had correspondence with another retailer who must most definitely stay anonymous. He says he sometimes gets retailers handing him the vouchers even though they don’t want the product. (I suppose this is a bit like the next person in the queue at Sainsbury’s or Tesco offering you their points because they are not saving them). Anyway, he adds, this rather wipes out the small losses so he doesn’t bother chasing them so much any more.