Your guide to using gift vouchers as a form of payment. What if the store goes bust? What if you lose your voucher?
Gift vouchers: the basics
A gift voucher is a piece of paper or electronic card that can be exchanged for goods or services up to the value written or loaded on the voucher.
Vouchers can be used at either:
- a specific store
- all branches of a store
- a number of stores that sells this type of product
- any store that belongs to the association that sells the voucher.
Exactly how you can use the gift voucher will depend on the actual voucher so you will need to check the terms and conditions.
Before you buy a gift voucher
Check if the voucher has an expiry date. If so then check if the person you are giving the voucher to will have enough time to use it. Six-12 months is a typical time period.
Check where the voucher can be used. If it can only be used at one store then you will need to check if the person you are giving the voucher can get to that shop. Also if the shop closes down the gift voucher will be worthless.
Buying vouchers that are too good to be true
Watch out for scams. If you are being offered a voucher that sounds too good to be true then check out if it is a scam.
Using your gift voucher
If you have received a gift voucher then use it soon. Check the expiry date to decide how much time you have.
Your rights with gift vouchers
A gift voucher is a contract with the store to provide a good or service. The terms and conditions for using the gift voucher are decided between the person buying the voucher and the store.
Usually the terms and conditions are printed on the actual voucher.
The buyer should be informed about the terms and conditions before they buy the voucher.
Got a problem with a gift voucher?
What if I lose the voucher?
A voucher is like cash, so if you lose it, it’s gone. The store doesn’t have to replace it. But if the voucher had been made out specifically to you and is not transferable then the store might have to replace the voucher. Check the terms of the voucher, or ask the store.
Can I get change if I don’t spend the total amount?
The store will often give you another voucher if the remainder is more than $5, or change if it is less than $5. But the store doesn’t have to give change unless the terms of the voucher say that they will give change. Check the information on the voucher, or ask at the store.
What if I don’t want the voucher?
The store doesn’t have to refund money for a voucher. A voucher is like paying in advance for a product or service. The store is unlikely to give you a refund.
What if the store goes out of business?
If the store goes out of business then the person with the voucher becomes an unsecured creditor. You will only get your money back if there is any left after the secured creditors have been paid. Usually there isn’t any.
What if the store has new owners?
The new owners probably won’t have purchased the previous owner’s liabilities, including the responsibility for accepting your voucher. You can still take the voucher in and ask.
What if the voucher has expired?
The store doesn’t have to accept the voucher, but if you are only a few days out, you can check if they will.