Know your rights
The terms and conditions for using a gift voucher are usually printed on the voucher. A voucher is like cash, so if you lose it, it’s gone. But if the voucher had been made out specifically to you and is not transferable, the store might replace the voucher. Check the terms of the voucher, or ask the store.
You can cancel a layby sale at any time before the last payment for any reason.
If you don’t spend the full amount on an electronic card, you can redeem the balance on another date. If it is a paper voucher, the store may give you another voucher if the remainder is more than $5, or change if it is less than $5. However, the store doesn’t have to give change unless the terms of the voucher say that they will give change. Check the information on the voucher, or ask at the store.
If you don’t want a voucher that is given to you, the store doesn’t have to refund money for that voucher. Also, if a voucher has expired, the business doesn’t have to accept the voucher, but they may if it is only a few days out.
If you buy on layby, the Fair Trading Act (FTA) provides you with certain protections and rules that traders must follow. These include the rights to:
- a set price and to have the products kept safely until fully paid off, unless you don’t make payments
- a written copy of the layby contract before you buy and a free statement at any time
- cancel the sale at any time before the final payment and get a refund when you cancel.
If a retailer sells your items or fails to set them aside on layby, you can ask for a replacement or a full refund at that price, even if new stock comes in at a higher price or is on sale at a lower price.
The layby contract must be dated, legible and easy to understand. The front page must:
describe the products
- summarise your right to cancel and show any cancellation fee
- include the retailer’s contact details
- state the total price you have to pay.
You can also ask for a free statement of your layby sale account at any time, which the retailer must provide within five working days. The statement must include:
- the purchase price
- any payments already made
- the balance owing and when this should be paid
- any cancellation fees (if applicable).
If the retailer doesn’t give you your contract or a free statement on request, you can cancel and they cannot charge you a cancellation fee.
You can cancel a layby for any reason before the last payment. Let the retailer know. After cancelling, the retailer must immediately give you a full refund in cash or refund the amount you have paid so far, less a reasonable cancellation fee, if this applies. Retailers can recover the cancellation fee as a debt.
Retailer has gone out of business
When a retailer has gone out of business, the business is no longer run by its owners. If the business is sold, the new owners probably won’t be responsible for the previous owner’s liabilities. Usually it will be very difficult to get your gift voucher honoured. You can still take the voucher in to see if they will honour the voucher based on goodwill.
For layby sales, if you haven’t missed a payment in three months, you can pay the balance and get your items as long as they are still available. If they are not, you still have priority over other unsecured creditors to get your money back, but you will have to register your claim with the receiver.
Retailer tries to get out of contract
Trying to opt out of the FTA by contracting out is illegal. Look out for a statement or sign saying ‘No cash refunds on layby sales’, or offering a credit note instead of a refund. These statements may breach the FTA by misleading you about your rights.