Christmas gift guide 2011

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05.Gift cards


If you’re stuck for a gift idea or time simply runs out, a gift card is an easy solution. However, over the years, these cards and vouchers have been the subject of numerous complaints to CHOICE. The retailers are onto a winner here – they get the cash straight away, but know a substantial percentage won’t be redeemed. Members told us about some issues they encountered.

  • Retailers set a time limit on the validity of cards, such as six months to two years.
  • Gift cards often will not be honoured for transactions less than a specified amount.
  • Risks for the consumer – if a card is lost or stolen, it can be used by someone else (just like cash).
  • Restrictions about which shops will accept the card, particularly shopping centre cards.
  • In some cases, retailers won’t provide change.
  • Vouchers not honoured after a business changes hands and no record of the sale remains – or so the retailer claims. 
  • Cards or vouchers not honoured by companies that go out of business, and no refund provided.
  • Fees, including for card activation, replacement and phone support.

The last word on gift vouchers goes to CHOICE member Graham Brown. “The only gift voucher I will accept is one issued by the Australian government,” Graham says. “These gift vouchers have so many benefits – no fees, no restrictions on where or when you can use them, and you can even use part of them and get change. The vouchers come in many useful denominations and combinations: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. The best feature is that they can be used anywhere in any way. Now when I am given an Australian government gift voucher, it goes with my own collection of vouchers in my wallet and can be quite useful at any time I choose.”


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