TCN The Card Network - Dodgy Gift Card Provider?

I'm beginning to get nervous about the status of my restaurant gift cards. So I bought a few giftcards thinking I would be able to use it at any restaurant/cafe, and initial test shows that it is accepted anywhere, maccas, tavern, and even bubble tea places.

Recently they've done some update that excludes fast food and quick service restaurants (I'm assuming takeaway restaurants) even though when I bought the card, it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the card. New cards apparently shows this condition.

Previously you can also transfer your physical giftcard to mobile wallet so places that can only tap instead of swiping you can still use the card but now it appears that the option has been removed.

I've tried contacting them on the phone only to be told to leave a message and they will call you back. I've also contacted them through their contact page on the website and it's been 2 days and I haven't heard back from them.

Anyone else having issues with TCN especially the restaurant card?

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  • agree
    i have the app but i wont send sms

  • Yes a little annoyed that some of the places I visited in Nov doesn't work since last 2 weeks

  • From many commnets I found, their trick is to always let you use it successfully for the 1st purchase and limits the card.

    Then you cant have legitimate reason to refund as it worked once. TCN profits from remaining balance that you cant get used.

  • A few places I used the card successfully at won't accept this card anymore. Certainly a dodgy practice.

    • Yep, in my case I bought more thinking I could use it often but now I'm finding that it's getting declined

  • now it all makes sense - I've been previously using the restaurant GC at Starbucks, Coffee Club etc but since last week its getting declined,
    I couldn't figure out the reason
    This is really dodgy as I loaded up on few cards based on previous positive exp

    • Well could be they are just fixing the error? I mean Starbucks, MCD, is not a restaurant, right? As long it still work in proper dine in sit down restaurant then it matches with the card name and purpose.

      • Starbucks is a Cafe though and it said any restaurant/cafe.

        I'd argue that mcd is also a restaurant where you can dine in and sit down.

  • I wouldnt buy anything unless I knew exactly where I could spend it

    • They mislead you by initially saying you can use it at any restaurant/Cafe and it worked too.

      Only in December they started to limit the restaurants

      • Now they removed the cafe from their website.

        • What they can't remove is what is shown at the back of the physical card pack which clearly states any restaurant and cafe that accepts eftpos.

    • First declined in a Chinese restaurant.

      Then declined in a Japanese restaurant.

      And then what?

      Perhaps I should try a Thai restaurant.

      TCN may be not only dodgy, but also racist.

  • Wow, I wondered why my card balance was zero and not enough money when I tried to use at some places.

    It turned out that I still got the balance and because this dodgy practice, now I know why my card got declined, never never again TCN, I am going to tell this to all of my friends to not buy this card. They are still selling at Woolworths this week.

  • I second OPs negative experience with the card.
    One thing bugging me the most is they print 'you can use it at any restaurant and cafe that accepts EFTPOS' on the card, this is utterly untrue, misleading and false advertising.

    I think if all Ozbargainers who bought the cards pull it together, honestly we get a class action case with ACCC.

    The terrible thing is we don't know where it works now. Nothing more embarrassing than finishing your meals already, card declined three times at checkout. Being stared by restaurant staff and have to pull out the plastic

  • These TCN cards rely on the redemption business' merchant accounts are set up on the same merchant category as the card is. If there's any variance, the cards won't work at the terminal, and there's nothing either party can do about it.

    I am aware of multiple merchants having actively refused these products as well. It is possible some might have instructed their bank to block these products through their terminals. It is a significant failure by TCN that they didn't seek permission from businesses to participate in these products. Most of them don't even know about until a customer presents it. Their strategy of marketing them as "accepted anywhere" is based on a lot of assumptions, and that's before a business even exercises their right to not participate.

    If you are having trouble redeeming your cards then I recommend that you do two things …

    -Report the issues to Consumer Affairs (or your states equivalent) on the basis of the product, at face value, being misleading. Demonstrate where you've reasonably tried to use it and how that misaligns with what the product promises.
    -Report the issue to the retailer that you purchased it from. They accept these products into their stores and can influence whether the products should be changed or removed.

    • Coles have directed me to contact TCN directly as they are not responsible. I am wondering if my credit card will be able to dispute this transaction as "item not as described"

      • Hmm… Coles sold it to you, so they definitely have an onus to address the issue. In saying that, Coles have the right to investigate, and adding a third party between yourself and TCN will probably complicate the whole matter, especially if TCN are dodgy.

        But I wholeheartedly dispute Coles saying it’s not their issue.

        • Coles' only responsibility is to sell the product. The rest is on the card owner and their distributor.

          My suggestion to report to Coles is purely to make them aware that they're selling misleading products. They won't be able to assist with redemption issues, but they will apply pressure on TCN to fix the issues if they want to keep selling it in their stores.

          • @m alcove: And by selling the product, they have to abide by ACL.

            While ACL refers to retailers not being able to palm you off to the manufacturer, I don’t see how the consumer/Coles/TCN relationship would be any different than if it was consumer/retailer/manufacturer (of physics goods).

    • I did consider it but after reading this comment not too sure if there would be any resolution

  • Yes I am getting declines on places that use to work :(

  • Interesting. Got $21 left on one card. Might need to see if I can still use it at jb

  • Bought $500 worth of Restaurant gift card last week with 15%, and another $250 today with the 10%+10% discount. Only used it once and it worked. Hoping that this problem is temporary and they will eventually get their act together.

    Hard to see this fail especially when the Hospitality industry have partnered up with other major retailers to stimulate the economy. Let's play the long game.

  • Made a post on a Facebook ad for the Restaurant card expressing my disappointment in the change in conditions and to avoid buying this card.
    TCN reached out to me via Messenger to state this:

    "Please be advised that The Restaurant Gift Card works on a payment platform for venues who have the designated their merchant category code as Eating Places, Restaurants and/or drinking places.

    The gift card and TCN website prominently publish our terms and conditions, including the exclusion of fast food and quick service restaurants for our Restaurant Gift Card.

    If a venue has chosen to categorise their business under the fast food/quick service merchant category code, unfortunately our Restaurant gift card will not be able to be processed within their system.

    However, despite this, our priority is always to ensure that any concerns raised by our customers are addressed in a satisfactory manner. On that basis, we would be happy to cancel your card and provide you with a full refund of the purchase price for your product. Please let us know if this is your preference and we can facilitate a refund to your chose bank account."

    Needless to say, I'm taking the option to get a refund for my remaining cards and will update how the process goes.

    • I’m guessing you got them via the sales. Be interested that if they’re refunding directly if you actually profit off this.

    • yes please let us know the process and result

    • So further to this, got a response on Facebook messenger and Richard is sorting out a refund now for the remaining balance left on my cards :)

      • Even for cards that hve been used partially?

      • And money is now in my account - props to TCN support for patiently checking with me for remaining balances on my cards, advising I had incorrect BSB details and prompt payment of refund via OSKO.

        Very impressed with their turnaround once the issues were acknowledged.

    • Thanks for posting that. I was wondering how they were responding to people privately.

      It is just not plausible, that all of a sudden, a whole bunch of merchants are reclassifying their merchant category.

      (I also find it difficult to accept that those providing merchant facilities have gone through and reclassified their merchants on a wholesale basis.)

      Accordingly, I do not accept the explanation provided by The Card Network.

      Good on you for taking your money back. In my view, that is the safest option.

  • Interesting, keen to know how it pans out.

    I still haven't heard back from them after contacting through their contact page and phone.

  • Yeah, pretty annoyed that it no longer work at my local cafe and restaurant, when it did earlier. Lucky I did not end up buying more over the promotion this weekend. Now to try somewhere to use the remaining few hundred.

  • Tried 2 places today and one worked other not, the non working one is take away.

  • I’m working in POS hospitality industry,
    I guess based on tcn comments :
    "Please be advised that The Restaurant Gift Card works on a payment platform for venues who have the designated their merchant category code as Eating Places, Restaurants and/or drinking places.”

    If the a restaurant has the eftpos terminal registered as cafe category (wrong category) for an italian restaurant, tcn will refuse the card.
    The eftpos terminal should registered under “Eating places, restaurant and or drinking places”

    But this only my guess

    • Is there any way to find out what category the restaurant is registered as? The search function in the tcn website has been removed

      • +2 votes

        Try this link:

        Enter your city. Ie Sydney, NSW. (It will show as location not available, only shows usa address) but once you search the restaurant name. The results will show up with the merchant code.

        • Interesting thanks for that. Tried a few restaurants and they all come up with restaurant/bars code including gong cha

        • +1 vote

          Tried the link, and the places that previously worked and now won't work is still listed as "restaurant" on the VISA website.

          • @t25: Okay so what's their excuse now.

            • +2 votes

              @dreamykitten: I reckon it is definitely on TCN end. It doesn't make sense for the merchant to be changing their classification from week to week. And when it works at a restaurant one week and not the next. Looks like TCN is just shifting goal posts as/when they feel like it.

              • @t25: You're right on the money. Been working in Finance department of a big merchant for a while. One thing I can tell is merchants wouldn't not reach out to their bank to re-class their terminals, so long merchants are not switching to a different bank.

                As long as merchants receive what's gone through the terminals the following day in their bank account, they couldn't care less about this so called merchants classification. I dare to say that 100% due to TCN certain tweak from their back end, it triggered all these grievance we endured for last two weeks or so.

        • That's great. I'm heading interstate over new years so got a few of these cards for dining and had already planned a few places I wanted to visit - this search has already made we wary of the card working at one place, so at least I can be prepared.

      • Another general way to check is that a licensed restaurant usually should register as "Easting Places/Restaurants" instead of "fast food".

    • Let say that’s why, but there’s comments above saying it didn’t work at a sit down Chinese restaurant too. So what, that’s a cafe? Makes no sense at all (directed towards TCN, not you).

  • I cant use it at betty's burger today

    • happened to me as well
      both digital and physical declined

    • Hmmm, according to above visa link, Bettys burger is registered as RESTAURANTS/ BARS - 5814

      • 5812 Eating Places and Restaurants
        5813 Bars, Cocktail Lounges, Discotheques, Nightclubs and Taverns–Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages)
        5814 Fast Food Restaurants

        Think it needs to be 5812 for the card to work

  • +2 votes

    By looking at Merchant Category Codes (MCC) from page 8 of Citibank's MCC guide:
    5812 is "Eating Places and Restaurants" and 5814 is "Fast Food Restaurants", I guess all the rejected transactions are from the latter. The cards most of people have purchased state "Enjoy at over 10,000 restaurants and cafes around Australia". I am not surprised if cafes registered their business as "fast food restaurants". Apparently, this contradicts to TCN's comment that "The Restaurant Gift Card works on a payment platform for venues who have the designated their merchant category code as Eating Places, Restaurants and/or drinking places".

    Interestingly, I noticed the cover of Restaurant card has been changed from TCN's website, it no longer mentions "cafes" (check this: This has possibly explained the removal of "Fast Food Restaurant" MCC support. Assuming the new version only restricts for restaurant use, TCN should still allow old cards to be used in cafes(fast food restaurants) based on the card number.

    • +2 votes

      Thanks for this, I think we should raise this to ACCC maybe… as they have been misleading so many customers…

  • Called my friend, who is a manager at one of the Woolworth Supermarket, he advised me not to buy TCN gift cards. He said many people are having issues with them, and it is not worth the risk to save few dollars. He said the headache is more than the saving. He told me when you buying these, you are basically gambling your money.

    He also said the system doesn't allow for returning these cards.

  • You can email them and request for refund of the TCN Restaurant card.

  • I could use the restaurant card to order Deliveroo one week ago. But when I tried to do the same today, it failed. Very dodgy and very deceptive.

  • People with concerns about operation of The Card Network should also lodge a complaint with the ACCC.