Are you considering buying a voucher offering goods or services at a discount online? Or have you already bought a voucher online? If so, there are some things you may wish to consider.
Websites offering discounts on goods or services where the consumer then receives a voucher to redeem with a retailer are otherwise known as voucher, coupon or group buying websites. These websites may offer deals such as a hair colour, cut and blow-dry for a quarter of the usual cost or a meal for two with drinks, for less than half price.
Although there are some great opportunities to buy goods or services at significantly reduced prices, before you take up a low-price offer online there are some things you should be aware of:
- You should consider the true value of what you’re getting for your money. The design and wording of these voucher deals can be very enticing, with claims of 60-80% of market rate prices.
- Check for any restrictions on using the voucher in the terms and conditions advertised with the deal. You might be restricted to only being able to use the voucher on certain days or at specific times. Check the terms and conditions whether there are requirements such as needing to book in at least one month before the expiry date.
- There may be potential delays in being able to redeem your voucher if a large number of people seek to redeem their vouchers at the same time.
- A business may put loyal, regular customers ahead of voucher-holders. This may mean you have to wait for the obligations of the voucher to be met.
- The timeframe in which you need to use the voucher can often be 12 months or less. This should be clearly set out in the terms and conditions. If you do not use your voucher within the timeframe allowed it is unlikely you would receive a refund. Voucher websites usually only offer to refund consumers at the end of the voucher agreement term, if the deal has not been met by the trader.
- Sometimes a business may change owners or go out of business before you have an opportunity to redeem your voucher. If a business does cease to operate and the new owner will not accept the voucher, you should contact the website that sold you the voucher originally to get your money back, but this will depend on the voucher website’s terms and conditions.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and not fully understand what you are buying. Read the terms and conditions of the voucher and the voucher website carefully to make sure you understand the offer before you click and agree to purchase.
If you’re yet to venture into the world of online voucher shopping, why not talk to friends or family who have already used voucher websites. They may have recommendations regarding the different sites, as well as advice relating to their experiences.
If you have a problem
If you are having a problem with a voucher and you are unable to resolve your complaint with a group buying website the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) has its own complaint resolution process that may be able to assist you in resolving your complaint.
Consumer Protection is also able to assist in resolving complaints. Contact Consumer Protection on 1300 304 054 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice on resolving your complaint.
If you believe that an online voucher deal is misleading, contact Consumer Protection. Misrepresentation of the type of goods or services on offer, or their value, could be a breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
Information for businesses
Businesses considering offering goods and services through these vouchers should visit our online voucher page for businesses for more information on things they should be aware of.
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