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Commissioner's blog: Be cautious buying coupons

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There’s very little you can’t buy with a discount voucher these days, with group buying websites offering massive discounts on everything from restaurant meals and holidays, to groceries and car services.

While everyone loves getting a bargain, it pays to be cautious before buying vouchers online, especially in these tough times.

As the economy gets back on its feet post COVID-19, some businesses may consider offering their services on a discount site for an instant cash injection.

Even though this may sound like good news, consumers should know that if the business is either unable to redeem the deal or fails altogether, in a worst-case scenario the voucher you’re left holding may be worth little more than the paper it’s written on.

That’s why it’s so important to always check the terms and conditions to see if the business or group buying site have inserted clauses about circumstances that may arise when you can’t use the voucher.

We recently received report that a restaurant had rejected a voucher citing a change in policy due to COVID-19 restrictions – so if you’re told similar, check the fine print to see if the t&cs allow for such a change. If not, the business is obliged to accept the coupon.

Consumer Protection would expect businesses to act fairly to resolve the issue however if you are unable to reach a suitable resolution with the business directly, your next step should be to contact the provider to see if they can assist.

Many providers have already developed FAQs on their websites and have dedicated assistance teams to manage these issues.

The t&cs are also worth checking for other restrictions, such as only using the voucher on certain days or times, plus any notice required for booking and it pays to be prepared for potential delays if a large number of people seek to redeem vouchers at the same time.

If you have no luck with the trader or website, or should you spot a deal that may be misleading, please come to us: 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Penny Lipscombe, Consumer Protection

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Penny Lipscombe 

Consumer Protection
Media release
09 Jul 2020

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