Gift cards and vouchers are legalised theft

Altered Image: Whaleoil

I was reading an article about a family that was upset that BP wouldn’t give change on their petrol vouchers and it made me think about gift vouchers in general. Gift vouchers are the only legal way to steal from people. You can spend $500 purchasing a voucher and you can end up with nothing to show for it at all. You can spend $200 of the $500 and the remaining $300 can disappear into thin air.

Why is it that vouchers are allowed legally to deny the customer the value that their cash was meant to have purchased and what really is the point of vouchers?

Why would someone purchase gift vouchers for themselves or others if cash would do the exact same job more efficiently and with zero chance of change not being given?

When I hand over $100 to buy a jacket, for example, no retailer is going to look at my hundred?dollar note and say I am sorry Madam but your one hundred dollar note has expired and is no longer valid.

They are not going to say, I am sorry Madam but giving change on a hundred dollar note is at the discretion of the retailer and I have decided that I don’t feel like giving you twenty-five dollars change.

While giving a person a gift card or voucher may ensure that it is spent on the kind of thing that the gift giver wants the person to spend it on I do not understand why anyone would buy vouchers for themselves. If I have saved $500 to spend on petrol for a road trip why would I use that cash to buy petrol?vouchers instead of petrol?

Many years ago a family member asked Cam and me to get a family portrait done as they wanted to have a photo of our little family to hang on their wall. We were on a tight budget so we didn’t do it. The family member thought that the best way to get what they wanted was to give us a voucher as a gift. The voucher was for a family portrait. I looked at the voucher and it was for a very expensive photographer far away from where we lived.

Long story short, the voucher was worth hundreds of dollars but it had an expiry date that said that if I didn’t book the session and have the portrait taken within the next three months it would be null and void. The voucher was not refundable. The portrait session was not booked in time, the portrait was never created and the photographer was legally allowed to pocket all that cash in exchange for no work at all.

If we had booked the session ourselves without a voucher and then cancelled it we would have had to pay a small percentage of the entire amount as a penalty yet the gift giver lost all their money because they paid up front. That is legalised theft in my eyes.

Nowhere else do retailers get away with taking money up front for a service or product that they do not provide and get to keep it! If I paid up front for a new car and then failed to come and pick it up within three months of it arriving at the car yard they could not legally keep the car. They might charge me for storage but they couldn’t legally say that the car was no longer mine.

Vouchers or gift cards that represent a cash value should never expire because cash does not expire. The retailer has already received the money so we should be able to receive the product or service anytime don’t you think?