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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Littlewoods wants discount refund
Trinny and Susannah launch their new collection with Littlewoods Direct
Littlewoods sold their UK stores to Primark owner AB Foods in 2005
Littlewoods has angered internet bargain hunters by demanding that an online discount voucher be paid back to the UK retailer.

The 25-off voucher was meant for a small number of specific customers, but got widely distributed through chat rooms and consumer-saving websites.

Two months later, Littlewoods has asked those it says were not eligible for the promotion to pay back the cash.

It says that the terms attached to the offer means it is within its rights.

Terms and conditions

A spokesperson at the Liverpool-based firm said: "A 25 discount code was created for a small group of specific customers.

We are looking at a number of ways of ensuring this doesn't happen again
Littlewoods spokesman

"This code was then circulated, without our authorisation, through a number of websites resulting in around 3,000 customers obtaining a discount for which they were ineligible.

"As a result, in accordance with clause 2.3 of our online terms and conditions we have re-charged this discount back to their accounts and have written to them individually to explain.

"In addition, we are looking at a number of ways of ensuring this doesn't happen again."

He added that Trading Standards in Liverpool had been informed and were "satisfied" with their actions.

The terms and conditions on the discount voucher state that the promotion can only be accepted if used by the person to whom it has been directly issued.

It also said: "In the event that the code has not been issued to you for your personal use or you do not qualify for the offer, the price of the order will be adjusted notwithstanding any email or other confirmation that you receive.

"We will not accept the item to be returned back also refer to the returns section."

Marketing tactic?

James Gosnold was one disgruntled Littlewoods customer who had his 25 voucher accepted and then two months later received a letter demanding the money back.

He admitted to the BBC that it was quite likely he did not "have a foot to stand on" against the clothes-to-household goods retailer, which sold off its UK stores two years ago to focus on its catalogue and internet operations.

But he argued that the situation had important implications for online trading standards.

Can you imagine buying something in a sale at high street shop only to discover two months later that the sale price didn't apply to you?
James Gosnold, Littlewoods customer

"Only they know how many thousands of orders this generated that most definitely would have not otherwise been placed," he said.

He added: "Can you imagine buying something in a sale at High Street shop only to discover two months later that the sale price didn't apply to you? And that you didn't have the option to return the goods?"

A similar situation occurred at off-licence chain Threshers in December last year when a 40% wine and champagne voucher intended for suppliers and their family went viral around the internet and got downloaded by millions.

In that case, Threshers honoured the offer to all recipients of the discount code.

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