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Response to complaint from Woolworths Wish Gift Card

As a follow up from the artice where I complained about a Woolworths Wish Gift Card that had expired, there is some good news!

This is the response from Woolworths Wish Gift Card customer service;

Dear Kathy,

I am writing in response to the correspondence you submitted via the
WISH Gift Card website on Friday 01st August 2008, in regards to the
funds on your expired Gift Card.

Please note that all WISH Gift Cards expire 12 months from the date of
purchase. This is stated in the terms and conditions printed both on the
back of your Card and on the cardboard carrier which the Cards are
attached to. Full terms and conditions are available from

As a gesture of good will I have reactivated your Gift Card. The new
expiry date is 04th September 2008.

Please ensure that you use your Card prior to the new expiry date as no
further extensions will be offered.

[name removed for privacy]
Group Financial Services

Well, this is a partially positive outcome – at least now I get access to the funds that were still left on the card. But this doesn’t address the bigger issues of;

Gift cards expiring after a period of time (in this case 12 months). The value of money over time – or net present value – means that a gift card actually depreciates in value as soon as it’s bought. After 12 months, a $100 card will really only give you $95 worth of purchasing power. Sure, this doesn’t seem like a lot of money for one card, but multiply this by hundreds of thousands of Wish Gift Cards issued annually and the value soon starts to add up – in favour of Woolworths!

Card not showing the expiry date. In my case, the assistant who issued the card did not print the expiry date on the card – so how was I know it was to expire?

My advice – if you get a gift card, use it as soon as you can – and if you can avoid Wish Gift Cards, do so!

23 thoughts on “Response to complaint from Woolworths Wish Gift Card

  1. Hi, I had the same thing happen. I found a gift card from last xmas that I’d forgotten (rarely shop at Woolworths), Tried to use it in Big W & wsa rejected. The store staff were useless..their attitude “you’ve done your dough..tough”. Fired off an e-mail & within 2 hours got the same reply you did..1 month extension. As an addition , I work for Autobarn & our gift cards can be extended ite simply, thye don’t pocket your money !

  2. Being a consumer myself I find it annoying how people react to these type of situation when the information you need is always right infront of you and if it’s not its readily available from a number of information mediums. Also calling the store staff “useless” really isn’t fair because did you ever think that maybe they were just thinking well why didn’t you look at:

    1. The receipt used to purchase the gift card.

    2. The giftcard carrier with all the terms and conditions.

    3. The website that allows you to check your balance and expiry date.

    4. The phone number that you can call to check your balance and expiry date.

    and 5. Your receipt that you get every time that you make a purchase which has printed the expiry date and available balance.

    Plus most gift cards/promotion vouchers & specials all have an expiry date whether it is a week a year or 5 years.

    Plus maybe those staff members reacted to you in a “Well it’s not my fault you didn’t read what was given to you.” way because I’m going to assume that you got in there faces about how bad it was etc. etc.

    Plus from memory the gift cards do have an expiry date on the back so even if nobody filled in the expiry date for you it still said “Expiry Date” in big bold black letters on the back, didn’t that at least make you scratch your head and say “hmm do these things expire?…”

    And as far as the whole depreciating value thing goes, thats just over the top I mean seriously, who thinks like that!? An absolute tight ass…

  3. Let me rebut your points in order. Of course, one could stoop to your level by just hurling personal insults like ‘tight ass’ however given I’m clearly more educated than you I think you deserve the benefit of my considered opinion.

    Information can’t be ‘always right in front of you’ if it’s ‘readily available at the same time’. I’ll assume the point you’re trying to make is that terms and conditions, expiry dates etc of the Woolworths Wish Gift Card are easy to find. That’s simply not true. The card itself does not have enough space for terms and conditions, so they refer you to the website. Do you think they’re nice and bold? Heavens no! The terms and conditions are in small print right at the bottom of the page! (As an aside, the page doesn’t meet any web standards such as being valid HTML markup and fails Section 508 accessibility compliance).

    Once you’ve managed to navigate to the Terms and Conditions, which are a 3 page PDF file, you then need some legal expertise to interpret them! The expiry regulations don’t come until paragraph 3.5 – or halfway through the document.

    I’d also like to point out that these 3 pages of Terms and Conditions were not ‘in front of me’ or ‘readily available’ at the time that I purchased the Gift Card.

    You go on to question why I didn’t look at the receipt or check the website for the expiry – because I didn’t know it had expired until I went to use it!!!!! That’s my whole point!

    You also mention that gift cards have an expiry date. Most do. But when one is marketed to you as ‘handy to carry in case you’re running short of cash’ then it is not marketed as a gift card but as an alternate form of payment or stored value card – which in most cases do not expire!

    The reason the staff were labelled as useless – a term I still stand by – is that they
    a) had very little knowledge of their store’s product – the Gift Card
    b) they had no information available about the recourse options available to me
    resulting in a very poor customer service outcome – yes, they were useless. Would you go into (for example purposes only) Myer and not expect their retail staff not to know about MyerCard?

    The depreciating value thing is actually quite important however I suspect this point has escaped you. Let me explain more clearly. Let’s take Joe the Manager at Woolworths. If he sells $1,000,000 worth of Gift Cards on Jan 1 2009, people have until Jan 1 2010 to spend that amount in goods from Woolworths (as per the Terms and Conditions, page 2, paragraph 3.5). Over the course of the year, let’s say that inflation runs at 3% (conservative estimate). The price of goods goes up by 3%. Joe invests the $1mil in January and gets 12 months worth of interest on the money – let’s say 5%, again conservative. Now Joe has $1,050,000. In December 09 people realise that their card is about to expire and spend $1,000,000 worth in Woolworth stores. Keep in mind inflation. They really only purchase what would have cost them 97% as much a year ago – or $970,000 worth. This is a grand benefit for Woolworths of $80,000 – or 8%. Oh, and I didn’t even calculate the ‘lost’ value of the cards that expire.

    Still sound like I’m being a tight ass, or can you now see what a racket these cards are?

  4. Hey guys your feedback has been very helpful, which phone number do you call to speak to someone regarding expired wish gift card, the 1300 number does not seem to be working


  5. Re: Paul’s comments, I am completely with Kathy here. I can’t see any convincing argument why the gift cards should expire.

    After doing a bit of googling, I have seen the argument put forward that because of the way it is accounted for it is inconvenient for the retailer not to get some closure on the outstanding gift card. In a similar way that they wouldn’t you want unpresented cheques hanging around out there.
    I don’t think this is a particularly strong argument though. If that was the case why do some cards in australia have 2 years. or no expiry date at all? If this is presenting the retailers with such an accounting problem, why have they introduced the cards in the first place? As far as I can tell the accounting practice of the business is irrelevant. They have a debt (the value of the gift card) and they can’t just decide after 12 months that they don’t have to pay it. That is plainly wrong. They can write up a policy, put it on the back of the card , or the moon for all I care, the disclosure isn’t the issue , there is something very fishy about the policy.

    And what happens to the money? In my business we operated a trust account. when the business got sold we closed the trust account. Any money that wasn’t claimed we sent to the public trustee. It wasn’t ours. Is this what Myers do or do they just keep it?

    In some states in the USA and Canada it is illegal to have an expiry date on gift cards. Consumers rights always seem to be on the increase so I can see the same thing happening here. As long as consumers argue for it.
    I am imagining Paul has some retailing (along with consuming) experience so he no doubt is sick of people whinging and giving the overworked staff a hard time. This is distorting his judgement here though. Most cards are only for small amounts, but not all of them.

  6. I don’t see what you are all fussing about – you had an issue – raised it with the retailer and a fair compromise was given.
    Generally with any complaint it would be taken seriously and the conditions are the conditions if you don’t want to deal that way – don’t buy the card – but i would hope given that you stated your education level that you thought about it and took your complaint to the manager who would be trained in all aspects of the finance options and not the 15 year old sales assistant who is paid $6 and hour.
    However i can give you a handy tip for big w and ww – if a line is stocked they have internal stock control system that can tell you which stores have stock on hand at any given time.
    If you were looking for a specific item you can ring the helpdesk and they are able to tell you what stores have that stock in at that moment – much easier than contacting the manufacturer as they only know what was sold not what is left – Happy Shopping

  7. These cards are a complete fraud. My daughter was given one of these wish cards for her last birthday. It was a few days before her next birthday and went to redeem but alas it had expired because it was bought for her a couple of weeks before her last birthday. The purchaser of the card might be aware of the terms and conditions, but who in their right mind gives these cards and says read these terms and conditions as well. Can these terms and conditions be applicable to minors? What if they are sent by mail?

    I just wonder how many cards are lost or are not redeemed? Where does the money go? If it was a charity eg Red Cross you might not mind but who then gets the tax deduction? but they dont even tell you that. You give them cash. Why should there need to be an expiry? This makes no sense; but they know there is a chance that people will forget to use it and easy money (rather stolen). As for the cost to produce the card, should they not wear it as it forces people to spend that money at their stores only.

    If I dont operate my bank account for 12 mths, they dont take my money. If I have still not touched it after 7 years they send it to the treasury. After this i can still get my money back from treasury.

    It was only $19 but it was my daughter’s. Wait, for every piece of bad word of mouth I say, or when I decide to not shop there, or write to someone about it, I will reduce it by one cent. So $18.99 to go. Lets see how much that $19 is worth to you.

  8. btw…why cant at least the cards have a 13 mth expiry? If that was the case I would have not made to above post. I would imagine most people are given these cards on their birthday and told they have 12 months to spend it. The person receiving might think so but it actually 12 mths from when it was purchased which may have been a few weeks prior such as the case with my daughter. $18.98.

  9. I am fed up with the time taken to supply the Safeway card which I ordered through on 7th February. After more than a month, no card. Attempts to expedite this have failed and I am told that there is nothing they can do and that it is a very complicated process. Someone is getting a month interest free on my money which reduces the value of the discount on the card which is 5%. It is hard to excuse this in an era of electronic transactions. The person I spoke to in Customer Relations said she would try to expedite it. After another fortnight, NOTHING. Think I’ll complain to Consumer Affairs who might also be interested in the expiry dates alluded to in other posts.

  10. Kathy,

    Allow me to educate you further and help you realise that checkout staff are not briefed with all the terms and conditions of gift cards and were not in a position to appropriately remedy your concerns.

    You probably approached the service desk in a fired up and rude manner, which I can assure you does not aid your cause, having fielded similar complaints before.

    I’m also in agreement with Paul in criticising your preposterous depreciation claims. You better not buy any groceries this year because you will have lost about $2 next year, hey? Additionally, if you are so concerned, you may wish to consider holding onto your cash instead of purcashing gift cards.

    I can also assure you that your challenge to the legal validity of this contractual arrangement, and expiry date, is weak. Undertaking some research into what constitutes reasonable notice of terms and what constitutes your consent to said terms will aid your understanding of this.

    Happy shopping.

  11. “After 12 months, a $100 card will really only give you $95 worth of purchasing power”. This is true for real money also. If you had got $100 bill in a gift card and waited to spend it for 12 months it would act exactly the same.

  12. In addition to the website and hotline, the balance and expiry date of a giftcard can be checked at every register of Woolworths supermarkets. Just present the card and the staffmember and we can do a quick giftcard enquiry.

  13. Sure, *if* I remember that it’s close to expiring… which is the whole problem! Maybe what I should do is buy a bunch of like 50 of them, then get them all checked when I go to the supermarket. Sounds like fun!

  14. How can a gift voucher expire? somebody has got to teach these people what money actually is .. its represents trading value in a market . Money of itself is nothing its what it represent as VALUE in a market of tradeable goods that matters . Money is the result of trade not money . When I hand 50 bucks for a traders voucher, in effect I am merely swapping currencies i.e the national currency for local traders currency. So just as 50 bucks issued in 2006 does not expire neither can the gift voucher while the trader is solvent and even if the trader becomes insolvent the 50 bucks is DEBT and STILL OWED to the customer . Further there is no depreciation of the buying power of the voucher since 50 dollars issued in 2006 is still 50 dollars in 2010 . Gift vouchers are a RACKET and need to be addressed by legislation. In many countries there no expiry on the voucher for the reasons stated because until trade for goods has occurred the value of the voucher remains in perpetuity.
    If the trader refuses to honour or redeem the voucher then the trader is infact a thief

  15. I’m wish you kathy, exactly the same scenario at Dick Smith this morning. Last time I set foot inside one of those stores. How much $$ are they stealing from customers who don’t realise what ridiculous limits they have?

  16. Kathy
    Thanks for the blog. I found an expired woolies gift card last night with over $160 left on it 🙁 . I found your blog, sent off an email from the gift card web site and first thing this morning received an email very similar to yours stating they had extended the expiry date to a month from now.

  17. Hello,

    It’s a bit late, but i’d like to commend Woolworths, as they have given you a chance to use the value of the card, after multiple ‘reviews’ Westfield decided to keep my $140.

    The issuing companies keep the cash, guestimates of between 7 and 10% of the issued value is never used. Basically free money for the gift card companies


  18. Depreciation and conditions aside, having an expiry date on cash would be completely ridiculous, so why then is it acceptable to put one on a gift card? Why would anyone defend the expiry date on a gift card? Seriously? I work for woolies and I know that it has an expiry and I tell the customer that, it’s not hard to know that stuff. A fifteen year old would easily know that. Those of you that have the ‘tough luck’ attitude have no common sense. I personally would never buy a gift card but you can’t help it when you’re given one and sometimes you simply forget to use it. It’s only fair that the money on the card be redeemed, anything less is simply ridiculous. Isn’t it enough that the money is restricted to that particular store? That’s a guaranteed sale. I suppose 100% profit is better…

  19. I am very annoyed with myself, today i found my Wish gift card, it had expired 2009. my fault, I thought it had been thrown out with the the Xmas wrapping paper, so imagine my joy at finding it, imagine my horror reading the expired date, lesson if you get a gift card .SPEND IT THE VERY NEXT DAY & ENJOY IT.

  20. With Xmas approaching this issue is now relevant for all those cards received as gifts last Xmas!
    It will be a cold day in hell before our government legislates against expiry dates on gift cards so I have found a great solution :
    You can use it for anything really, but built for gift cards I guess for the very reasons that this blog has highlighted.

  21. I received a wish gift card valued $ 500. When I went to purchase some items, I found the gift card has got $400 only. To verify the mistake, I have contacted few woolworths. visited the gift card website and called1300665249. However I could not get hold of a customer service representative. Only the recorded messages are there.
    How can I solve the issue. Please advice.

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