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Tuesday, July 20

Commerce Commission urges caution again over holiday vouchers



Consumers should exercise caution when approached by telemarketers selling vouchers for discounted or free holidays, hotels and flights, the Commerce Commission warned today.

“These types of schemes have been marketed in New Zealand for some years now. In our experience some are legitimate and others are not. We hope that highlighting these schemes will help educate consumers so that they can know the difference and avoid being taken in,”said Greg Allan, Commerce Commission Enforcement Manager, Wellington . “Once you have purchased vouchers, it can be very difficult to get your money back if they don’t deliver the benefits you expected.”

“The Commission is aware that some consumers have been recently contacted over the phone by businesses claiming to be selling vouchers or schemes for discounted accommodation in New Zealand and Australia ,” said Mr Allan. 

“Some consumers have found that the vouchers cannot be used in all the places promised, while others are concerned that they have signed up for an ongoing membership that will be automatically renewed annually.”

“While there are legitimate companies offering vouchers that provide genuine discounts, any company selling vouchers that are not redeemable for the services that they claim risks breaching the Fair Trading Act,” said Mr Allan.

“It is understandable that people are attracted by offers that appear to make their holiday dollars go further, but before committing to any offers or giving credit card or bank account numbers it is worth taking the time to check that the vouchers will deliver what is promised,” said Mr Allan.

“While telemarketers can be persuasive and persistent, don’t feel pressured to make a decision straight away. Ask for details like which providers are involved in the voucher scheme and check independently before making any commitment to purchase. This can be as simple as finding out the names of hotels who are supposed to be involved and calling them to check if they will honour the vouchers.”

The Commission has previously warned consumers about telemarketed holiday and accommodation vouchers. The Commission has also taken successful court action against a group of Australian companies marketing a voucher programme in New Zealand .

If you have purchased vouchers for discounted hotels and believe that you have been misled, you can register your complaint via the Commission’s online form on www.comcom.govt.nz, by email contact@comcom.govt.nz or phone 0800 943 600.