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To think park vouchers etc are a very dodgy way of saving for Christmas?

(292 Posts)
Whoknowswhocares Tue 25-Dec-12 11:19:06

A few people have mentioned on here they plan to save for next year with one of these type of companies.

I think this is highly risky. Unlike savings in a bank, there is no safety net in place and if the company go bust, you will lose all your money. It happened to what was the biggest firm in the market only about 3-4 years ago. Most people who use these schemes are finding things tough already and cannot afford to lose their money. Please, please save your money in a bank, or even a sealed tin to break open next year

Unless iabu and the rules have changed. So am I?

jellybeans Sun 30-Dec-12 15:11:49

I think it is a good idea for some that have trouble saving and also that will use the shops in the voucher scheme. I know a few who do it and all swear by it. Also know a few that do the PO Xmas savings which is simelar but a gift card. It is much better protected now and also if you pay by Visa etc you are covered even more I think.

FreePeaceSweet Sun 30-Dec-12 15:25:22

I have saved with Park for 8 years. Every year my order and commission gets larger. I have 18 people who save with me and I get a cheque for between £300-£600 every November. I always advise people to only collect vouchers as I believe the hampers to be hugely overpriced but some of them love receiving them. The people who save with me all say the same thing. If they didn't physically hand over cash to me and see it as a debt then no way could they save for Christmas as they'd spend it. The money is safe and secure and you get back what you put in. The range of shops that take the vouchers increases every year and in every booklet there are coupons that give free gifts or rewards when you spend the vouchers at certain stores. My local Boots had a till dedicated to just vouchers and it was busy. grin Also if you have any left over they can be used at Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and lots of other attractions.
Park is very useful for people who struggle to save up for Christmas and don't want to get into debt.

Whoknowswhocares Sun 30-Dec-12 15:34:15

Good to know that there is a safety net in place now. Although me being a cynic still remembers a certain national newspaper pension fund being raided by the company leaving the employees up the swannee, even though there were the same type of rules in place to prevent it. The fact that they shouldn't doesn't always mean they won't!

It still wouldn't be for me. I want to shop around and get the best deals, not be restricted to certain places and prices. And hampers etc are horrifically overpriced! I know it's hard to put money aside for Christmas, especially if things are tight, but those are exactly the people who should be getting the biggest bang for their buck by shopping around!

Bogeyface Sun 30-Dec-12 15:43:45

I have saved with Park and I checked it out first to make sure my money was safe, which it is. The vouchers are accepted at most high street shops, you can get amazon vouchers to use online, whats not to love?

I get to November and dont have to worry about paying for Xmas as it is all done, and I never spend all of it, so we use the leftovers in the sales.

As for "its for the poor" hmm Really? Nice generalisation there! THis time last year we were not poor, not at all but I saved. 2 weeks before my vouchers came, DH got made redundant with no warning, no pay off or wages he was owed. Without my savings, Xmas would not have happened. Sometimes it pays to think ahead.

MrsHoarder Sun 30-Dec-12 15:54:47

Its a much better idea to use a proper Christmas savings account in a building society. Skipton certainly have one(can be operated by post and they have branches all over the country).

You get about 3% interest and its difficult to get the money out before the set date but not impossible so if the boiler blows up its possible to get to it

Bogeyface Sun 30-Dec-12 16:31:19

Much better for you, not necessarily better for everyone!

Just because someone chooses to do something different, doesnt make it wrong!

HollaAtMeSanta Sun 30-Dec-12 16:33:06

I just don't understand this.

1. Adults are in charge of their own decisions. what is all this "oh I'd just spend the money"? Are there really so many stupid, feckless, irresponsible people out there? If you want to save the money, just save it.

2. What do you get from Park that you wouldn't get from just having a standing order go out every month into a high-interest savings account?

FreePeaceSweet Sun 30-Dec-12 16:35:26

One person who saves with me is an elderly lady without a bank account.She can't get one for love nor money. She has a post office thingy that her pension is paid into and thats it. She doesn't want any money lying around her house. Come christmas she can treat her grandkids without worrying about the pension. For her this kind of thing is ideal.

FreePeaceSweet Sun 30-Dec-12 16:37:21

Thats a bit harsh Holla. Its a choice that people make to save in a way to suit them. Thats all.

shesariver Sun 30-Dec-12 16:37:29

YABU. Theres nothing dodgy about it, you say it pays to shop around etc, but theres nothing to stop you shopping around with the vouchers, which cover a huge range of high street and on-line stores. Using a supermarket savings scheme doesn't remove the ability to spend your savings at any time throughout the year.

shesariver Sun 30-Dec-12 16:39:19

And holla I dont think using the money you have saved if something comes along makes you stupid or feckless either.

HollaAtMeSanta Sun 30-Dec-12 16:40:36

But WHY does it suit them? How is it different from putting the money in the bank? I have never seen the point of these schemes. confused

HollaAtMeSanta Sun 30-Dec-12 16:41:46

But surely if something comes along that means you need the money (boiler breakdown or something) you are at a disadvantage having it tied up in a voucher scheme? How do you get the money out and aren't there penalties for doing so?

shesariver Sun 30-Dec-12 16:43:35

It is different because you cant spend the money until you get the vouchers, usually in November. Whereas if you save it in a bank account there will always be the temptation to use it for something else throughout the year. Thats not difficult to understand.

yohohoho Sun 30-Dec-12 16:43:40

holla its not different, except your are obliged to put the money in each month.

So if its not that different and people are not losing out why does it bother you?

For next Christmas I'm saving in a savings account. I set up the standing order on Boxing Day.

My mum used to give my Nan money every week for Christmas. She found it easier because the Christmas money was separate from her other savings. When my Nan passed away she set up a separate savings account.

I love the idea of Park, the only reason I don't use them is because I like to bargain hunt and I often get things from websites that aren't included in their vouchers.

shesariver Sun 30-Dec-12 16:44:30

You dont get your money out, thats the point - it means you get it for Christmas.

MrsHoarder Sun 30-Dec-12 16:45:12

Bogeyface but a lot of people aren't choosing to do something different, they're doing the first thing that comes up that all their friends are also doing, and not checking the security or value for money of doing it.

It is of course a choice which people are free to make, but they would be better off saving in an account with interest and properly protected by the FSA and ultimately the government (I'm not convinced by the "in trust" idea). And then have cash rather than vouchers which no matter how "good" they are are always limited in where they can be spent.

Yes its an ok scheme for the participants and a great scheme for the sellers (Park itself and their agents) but there are better options which a lot of people don't seem to know are there for them.

MrsHoarder Sun 30-Dec-12 16:48:57

And I personally get upset at these schemes because of the Farepak thing. Yes I know there are supposedly systems in place to protect customer's money now, but they aren't foolproof.

And being able to get to the money (with a small loss of interest to deter you from doing it on a whim) is very useful if you are in a dire position mid-year. If you struggle with willpower for saving so much that you need to not be able to get to money, what do you do if the washing machine breaks or the car needs repairing and you will lose your job if you don't get it fixed? Yes it will lead to a worse Christmas but that's better than getting a payday loan or similar.

FreePeaceSweet Sun 30-Dec-12 16:50:40

Personally my money isn't tied up just for Park vouchers. I'm not that stupid. I save the same amount again in my ISA. I love getting my vouchers. Its like a mini Christmas day in itself.

Oh and if you can't carry on with it you can stop and get your cash back. You aren't tied into it.

Sleepyfergus Sun 30-Dec-12 17:28:38

Some people are thinking way too much about this. It suits some (poor people apparently! Wtf...) to use Park or similar, others use a special bank account and can be all aloof and smug about how savvy and self controlled they are about it.

Move on for gods sake!

insancerre Sun 30-Dec-12 17:42:24

I would never use one of these companies again, after getting my fingers burned with Farepak.
I ordered over £500 of stuff, mostly in hampers of food and wine and gift vouchers for the relatives that live far away. I wasn't earning a great amount at the time and it seemed like a good idea. I didn't have to go out and shop for them and they were delivered to my door and everything was paid for well before Christmas.
I had done it the year before and it had worked out well so i did it agian, remembering how my mum had always ordered a hamper form the milkman and paid for it weekly.

zsazsaapplenod Sun 30-Dec-12 18:10:43

Park and Variety are the founder members of the CPA (Christmas Prepayment Association). The Post Office are also a member.

You can find the Code of Conduct here www.cpa-advice.co.uk.

The CPA was set up in the wake of the Farepak debacle in 2006 and has been trading for almost 6 years now.

Member companies must keep their customers' monies in at least 50% independent trust accounts which are controlled at least 50% independently outwith the member company. When the time comes for the money to be released ie to pay for vouchers, hampers, white goods etc, the Trustees must authorise the release of the monies.

It is incorrect to say that "poor people" save with these types of companies. Actually sensible people save with these types of companies. The money is locked away and you cannot get at it until you have paid in full. Furthermore, given the fact that interest rates have been so low for so long now, you get more in commission from Park and Variety than you would saving in a bank account.

People who save with Park, Variety or the Post Office are sensible as they are saving for a debt free Christmas. Once their vouchers, hampers arrive they basically can go shopping, do the wrapping and settle down and enjoy Christmas.

In short, your money is safe with companies who are members of the CPA.

For the avoidance of doubt, vouchers with supermarkets are NOT regulated and supermarkets have been asked to regulate same but they refused because there is no legislation in place to force them. Also gift vouchers are unregulated so if a company goes into administration (like Comet did) the vouchers will more than likely not be accepted.

Bogeyface Sun 30-Dec-12 18:13:14

Jeez, just because you dont see the point doesnt mean that it doesnt have its merits!

I get quite a nice amount of commission on my and my families savings, I dont have to think about Xmas at all until I go shopping, I consider a normal "bill" so there is no "Oh I will just borrow £20 out of the Xmas money this month...." and then end up with alot less than budgeted for.

And thanks for the "feckless, irresponsible, stupid" comments, nice, really nice hmm

Just because someone does things differently to you does not make them any of the above. But saying such things makes you very rude and snotty.

zsazsaapplenod Sun 30-Dec-12 18:13:45

Oh I should add that member companies of the CPA are also protected by the FSCS also now!

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