Beware Gifting Mum Plastic Disappointment this Mother's Day

Fair Trading NSW Commissioner Rod Stowe today urged consumers to buy smart this Mother’s Day and to be aware of the terms of conditions of store gift cards and vouchers.

“When it comes to our Mums, many Australians want to ensure their gift is one Mum will really appreciate and store gift cards or vouchers for services such as manicures or massages are very popular choices,” said Mr Stowe.

“There is no denying the benefits of gift cards; they offer flexibility for the recipient to choose from many items in a store, or book a service at a time and place that is most convenient.

“However, consumers do need to read the fine print at the time of purchasing and redeeming a card. So far this year, NSW Fair Trading has received 102 complaints about gift cards.

“Australians spend billions of dollars on gift cards every year and we are reminding buyers that money can be wasted on these products if they aren’t redeemed.”

Card expiry was the number one complaint consumers made against gift cards. While some traders may extend the expiry date as a goodwill gesture, they are not legally obligated to do so.

Other complaints relate to the store cards of businesses that had entered receivership and gift cards no longer being honoured, as well as disputes about the balance left on cards.

There were also concerns about cards that offer ‘top-up’ options so that the balance, once spent, can be re-loaded.

“The potential issue for consumers purchasing a card that can be topped up with cash again and again is that these cards do have an expiry date, just like other gift cards,” Mr Stowe said.

“A consumer could potentially re-load their card not realising that the pending expiry date is due before that balance is going to be spent and their money may be lost.

“It is a matter of buyer beware and customers should understand the terms and conditions of cards and vouchers before purchasing.

“Gift cards are a useful solution for many people but they can also be a waste of money and lead to disappointment if not used correctly.

“If you are buying a gift card, keep your proof of purchase in case there are problems using the card.

“If you receive a gift card, treat it like cash because if you lose it, it can be very difficult to replace. Setting a reminder date is a useful way to make sure you don’t miss the expiry date.

By downloading the ACCC’s Shopper app you can use a designated function for this purpose."

Any consumers who have concerns about using gift cards or have any complaints should contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.