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Warning over Christmas gift cards

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/12/2016

Gift vouchers might seem like the perfect Christmas present for that hard to buy for person, but buyers are being warned that they come with some risks.

Consumers are being warned that some gift cards carry terms and conditions that may cause problems down the line which happened when electronics retailer Dick Smith went into liquidation and they were no longer being redeemed.

"Gift cards may not be honoured if a retailer goes out of business. Essentially the person with the voucher becomes an unsecured creditor and it can be hard to recover any value." said Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Mark Hollingsworth.

He said while it didn't happen often, it was a risk to be considered when buying gift cards.

He added that will not give change if the full amount wasn't spent, and recommended buying several smaller amounts rather than one large amount.

"Familiarising yourself with the gift card terms and conditions is important ... some people are unaware that gift cards have an expiry date," Mr Hollingsworth said.

Consumer NZ launched its "Drop the Dates" campaign in September, calling for retailers to remove unfair expiry dates on gift cards.

"Our research found shoppers could be losing $10 million a year on cards that had expired before they could be redeemed," chief executive Sue Chetwin said.

Countdown, Kathmandu and Noel Leeming made the decision to drop their expiry dates following the campaign.

Shoe Clinic extended its voucher life to five years, and New World and Toyworld doubled theirs to 24 months.

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