New Zealanders Advised to Give Cash for Christmas
New Zealanders are being advised to give cash this Christmas in preference to gift vouchers as it can be redeemed anywhere and isn’t subject to expiry dates.
Speaking to Stuff—a popular New Zealand news website—consumer rights organisation Consumer NZ says that between the risk of businesses closing their doors in the challenging economic climate and the longstanding problem of having to use vouchers in a limited time period, cash is a more flexible and reliable gift.
Our research shows kiwis could be losing up to $10 million per year on expired gift cards. We also receive regular complaints about expired gift cards.
Stuff highlights the example of Nelson resident Barbara Hodgson, who discovered a gift voucher bought as a Christmas present by her daughter-in-law was unusable despite still being in date as the restaurant had closed down. Barbara’s story has a happy ending as—after complaining on Facebook—local business operator David Jordan offered her a new voucher for the same value at a different restaurant. While he was happy to help out the hospitality industry in “tough times”, he sounded a note of caution, saying: “Hospitality is pretty vulnerable at the moment. You don’t know when the next one’s going to shut the doors.”
Even before the pandemic brought such uncertainty, Stuff published a story describing gift cards as ‘the gift that stops giving’, pointing out that unredeemed cards make businesses millions of dollars each year. It cites research from TowerGroup showing that in America, $8 billion worth of gift card value went to waste in 2007. The figure dropped to $2 billion in 2011 after a federal law was passed requiring cards to remain valid for five years, but the profit remains considerable.
Consumer NZ is calling for an amendment to New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act that would require five-year validity for all gift cards and vouchers. In the meantime—and for anyone uncertain of which voucher will be to someone’s taste—cash is the safest option. As Consumer NZ’s Raksha Nand points out, “it won’t expire, and won't become worthless if a company changes hands or goes bust.”