Gift vouchers and cards
Gift cards or vouchers can be the ideal gift but it is essential for both the buyer and recipient to understand the terms and conditions.
Gift card checklist
Ask a few simple questions when you buy or receive a gift card or voucher to avoid disappointment:
- when does it expire?
- are there any spending limits?
- will I receive any change if I don't use the full amount?
- what stores accept the voucher? (Particularly important for shopping centre vouchers)
- will lost or stolen cards be replaced?
- can I check how much is left on the voucher (and expiry to use it)?
- are there any other terms and conditions? (eg. can it be used for online purchases)
Gift cards or vouchers must:
- clearly display the expiry date.
- not be redeemed for cash unless there is a remaining amount that, in the reasonable opinion of the trader, cannot be conveniently used.
- be able to be used more than once, if the value of the gift card/voucher is more than the purchase amount.
For more information, read the Australian Security and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) Gift facilities Class Order.
If you believe a business is not complying with the terms of a gift card or voucher, you may wish to lodge a complaint.
Company changes owners
If a business changes owners, the new owner does not have to honour existing gift cards and vouchers. However, they may do so if the business was:
- sold as a ‘going concern’ (in other words the assets and liabilities of the business were sold by the previous owner to the new owner); or
- previously owned by a company rather than an individual, and the new owner purchased the shares in the company.
If the new owner refuses to honour a gift card in these circumstances, consumers can contact the Consumer Protection by calling the Advice Line on 1300 304 054, sending an email or making a complaint.
Company goes out of business
If the company operating the business has been liquidated, the new owner may have only purchased the assets of the business and is not obliged to honour existing gift cards. In this situation, the consumer becomes an ‘unsecured creditor’ of the previous company.
If you are unable to use a gift card because of changes in the business or if it is lost or stolen and you bought the giftcard with a credit card you may be able to recieve a chargeback from your bank. Check with your bank about their purchase security insurance. Terms and conditions will apply for example you may need to make a claim within a certain timeframe and provide proof of purchase.
Promotional vouchers and discount coupons
A business may offer discounts or free entitlements through a book of coupons or vouchers – provided consumers know exactly what they are purchasing.
The supplier cannot:
- mislead you about the nature, characteristics, suitability for purpose, and quantity of goods or services
- leave out information – for example, failing to disclose that a ‘free’ offer is actually conditional on another purchase.
Free voucher books are still subject to the Australian Consumer Law.
Voucher or coupon books
Before committing to buy a book of vouchers or coupons, ask yourself:
- How many coupons do I need to use before I recoup what I have spent on the book?
- Which businesses are involved? Do I want what they sell, and are they local?
- How do I know the businesses will honour the coupons?
- Am I confident the businesses will still exist by the time I get around to using their coupons?
- What conditions apply? (Such as how many you can use at one time/purchase, can discounts apply on sale items, are they able to be used online etc)
- Are there restrictions on when coupons can be used (for example, only ‘off-peak’), or expiry dates?
- Are ‘free’ offers actually free of charge, or ‘buy one get one free’?
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