Negative experience with Smartbox, Buyagift and Debenhams – Do not purchase from any of them!

I wanted to write a little review on this Smartbox by buy a gift and warn you not to purchase one!

My parents bought this for my partner and I for Christmas and we were thrilled – a night away without the guilt that the money we’ve spent should be going into our savings. Upon flicking through the brochure inside the box we didn’t like any of the options available – but that was okay because we (mostly I) are fussy.

We chose to go online and upgrade our voucher for an additional cost but that was still okay. We had to wait until Monday to call the hotel and book in with them. We spent the weekend excited thinking perhaps we could book it sometime in February or even March as something to look forward to.

Monday morning came around and I called our chosen hotel. Unfortunately they couldn’t book us in until November… Yes, you read that right, November.

After discussing it with my partner we agreed that we would get a refund and instead book our own hotel with the money.

Now, there are three things I want you to bear in mind throughout the rest of the story:

1. The box is designed to be given as a gift – I’m not sure about you but upon receiving a gift I do not ask the giver where they purchased it from

2. The voucher company happily allowed me to upgrade the gift on their website without flagging up that the original had been purchased elsewhere

3.  As mentioned above it is designed to be given as a gift, therefore the recipient is more than likely to unwrap the box in order to inspect its contents

So, I rang up the company (having successfully upgraded the voucher on their website). I explained to the lady that it had been bought as a gift for us but we could not get booked in to a hotel until November. She said that was fine and because we had upgraded the voucher it was now in my name and so the full refund could be done on my card. Perfect, right?

I was informed that it would take 5 working days for the refund to appear in my bank account. 7 working days later there was no money.

I emailed the company to ensure that this time I had it in writing. I then received an email telling me the refund had bounced back as the original voucher had been purchased from Debenhams. Now as I mentioned above, I do not ask someone where they purchased a present from. The company were also more than happy for me to spend more money on THEIR website to upgrade the voucher.

At this point I was getting really annoyed. If the refund had bounced back surely the least they could have done was inform me?

I decided to call the company. Again I was told what was stated in the email. Furthermore I was informed that because the original voucher box had been opened Debenhams would not accept its return. Now, the original voucher was invalid at this point as it had been superseded by the upgraded one.

What I do not understand is this is an intangible gift, the fact that the box had been opened is irrelevant because the voucher now holds no value.

I’ve been informed that we can have a refund on the cost of the upgrade but the money spent on the original voucher is lost. I do not understand why the company can’t refund me the voucher and then go to Debenhams to claim back the money and inform them that the voucher is now invalid.

I am now out of pocket and with no night away. So I urge you all not to use this company or Debenhams!


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