We received this question from a supporter:
Late 2019 we exchanged many thousands of Westpac credit card reward points for two $500 debit cards under their Altitude Rewards program. The past year has been very chaotic, and as a result, we mislaid the cards and came across them again in December. That was when we realised that the cards had an expiry date of October 2020. Unfortunately the cards were issued 20 days before the new regulations came into force which would give three years’ expiry. The cards were issued by a company called Universal Gift Cards on Westpac’s behalf. I tried to call them many times and every time I got the message “our call centres are unusually busy”. Each time I left my name and number for them to call me back, but they never did. So I then contacted Westpac. Their initial response was that the cards had definitely expired which was bad luck, but in some circumstances they could reactivate them for a fee of $15 per card, which I thought sounded reasonable. However, when they got back to me a few days later, they said they couldn’t reactivate them and the cards were unusable. Naturally we were very upset at losing $1000 like this so I pushed back and asked them to reconsider. Westpac replied that: “Once Universal Gift Cards rule a decision, it is final. They are a separate company and we have no control over the cards.” I think it’s disingenuous of Westpac to shrug their shoulders and say it’s the other company’s fault. It’s Westpac’s loyalty program, so they need to take responsibility for it. Do you think there is anything we can do to get them to change their mind?
Because you received the gift card before the ACL rule came into effect, extending the expiry of gift cards to three years, Westpac is right in principle. But $1000 is a lot of money and Westpac has a large market power with this gift card provider. You have nothing to lose pursuing them further for help. I suggest you contact the Westpac customer advocate and tell them you were expecting best practice from them – you could argue it’s not best practice to have a gift card that expires after only one year if it was redeemed a few days before extended expiry came into effect, especially in light of the year we’ve had! You could also make another written complaint to Westpac’s customer service department, saying you’re considering switching banks not only for the credit card, but also your mortgage or any other product you have with them. Also make the point that you’ve been a loyal customer for a long time (if that applies). You could also try making a complaint via Westpac’s Twitter and Facebook profiles, as the social media department might be a lot more responsive than the call centre.
For more discussion on gift card expiry, visit our gift card expiry topic.