Palmerston North family refused change from petrol vouchers saved for family holiday

A Palmerston North family believes they've been ripped off by BP.
A Palmerston North family believes they've been ripped off by BP. Photo credit: Reuters

A Palmerston North family believes they've been ripped off by BP, and the head of Consumer New Zealand agrees with them.

Jody Lawrence and his wife took their seven children to Auckland on a holiday after saving for more than a year and accumulating $500 worth of Motor Trade Association (MTA) fuel vouchers.

But almost every BP station they visited refused to offer change on the vouchers, amounting to a loss of $40 for the family.

On Tuesday, Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin told RadioLIVE host Mark Sainsbury that the MTA shouldn't be enabling unfair terms.

"If there was quite a lot left on the vouchers because they hadn't all been used up then it would be our view that they should be issued another gift voucher," she says.

"I think that would be an unfair term because so much of it couldn't be spent."

Mr Lawrence told Stuff he will take BP to court if he has to recoup the $40.

"All of that change adds up. They're counting on us not to put up much of a fight over less than $10 [each time]."

The Lawrences have taken the issue to BP's head office, where they were told it was MTA policy that the petrol company didn't need to give change on the vouchers.

But an MTA spokesperson says all association members, including BP, were required to give change.

BP spokesperson Anna Radich told Stuff that each MTA member has their own policy in place for giving change. Terms and conditions on the back of the voucher state change will be given, but how that is provided is up to the station.

Ms Chetwin says Consumer NZ has run successful campaigns around voucher expiry dates.

"We don't believe they should have any expiry dates, because they are basically straight money for the retailers who accept them," she says.

"We've managed to push a lot out to two years. We think they should be at least five years or not at all. They're huge profit makers because they're money."

The Commerce Commission told Stuff that Mr Lawrence's complaint was being assessed.