Gift vouchers: What you need to know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 2 December 2019, new legislation (the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019) has come into effect concerning gift vouchers. Here are some of the main changes that your business needs to be aware of.

  • Your gift vouchers cannot have an expiry date less than five years from the day they are bought.
  • You must provide a record of the expiry date to your customers in writing, eg on paper or by email.
  • You cannot restrict your customers to spending the full voucher amount in one transaction, nor can you limit the amount of vouchers that can be used in one transaction.
  • You cannot refuse to accept a gift voucher because it isn’t in the customer’s name.
  • You cannot charge your customers for changing the name on a voucher.
  • The new legislation applies to gift vouchers you sell to any person, which includes other businesses, in addition to consumers.

New changes explained

There should be no expiry date on gift vouchers, or where an expiry date applies the duration must be at least five years.

A gift voucher issued with an expiry date of less than five years will be deemed to have a five year expiry date.

The business must inform the customer of any expiry date that applies to a gift voucher on a durable medium (on paper or email).  They must:

  1. specify the expiry date of the gift voucher and the date the contract was entered into and the period within which the voucher is redeemable (e.g validity period/five years) or
  2. specify that no expiry date applies to the gift voucher

A customer does not have to spend the full amount of the gift voucher in a single transaction.  If a customer only uses part of the gift voucher and there is a balance of more than €1 left, the business can refund the customer the difference in one of the following ways:

  1. cash
  2. electronic transfer (credit/debit card)
  3. gift voucher – the expiry date will be the same as the original gift voucher

A business cannot refuse to accept a gift voucher that is not in a person’s name, where the business has a condition that it must be used by a named person.

A business cannot charge a fee for changing or amending the name on a gift voucher for a person, where the business has a condition that it must be used by a named person.

A business cannot limit the number of gift vouchers a customer is allowed to use in a single transaction.

Not all gift vouchers fall under the scope of the new regulations

The following are some of the exclusions:

  1. Vouchers from a specified trader(s) that are redeemable at a discounted price for specific goods and services for either
    1. a specified date, or
    2. a specified period of no more than three months
  2. vouchers that are given as a refund for goods returned to a trader
  3. Vouchers that are deemed electronic money, within the meaning of the European Communities (Electronic Money) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 183 of 2011)

FAQs

Q. Do gift vouchers I have already sold fall under the new legislation?

No – gift vouchers that were sold before the new legislation came into effect on 2 December 2019 do not have to comply with the new requirements.

Q. I have a lot of vouchers pre-printed already with an expiry date of one year, do I now have to reprint them?

No but you must inform customers of any expiry date that applies to the gift voucher on a durable medium (on paper or email).  You must:

  1. specify the expiry date of the gift voucher and the date the contract was entered into and the period within which the voucher may be redeemed (e.g validity period/five years) or
  2. specify that no expiry date applies to the gift voucher

In addition, you should reprint your gift vouchers as soon as is practical to reflect the new laws.

Q. Are there any exceptions to the new legislation, for example are there any instances where I can give an expiry date of less than five years on gift vouchers?

No – there should be no expiry date on gift vouchers or where an expiry date applies the duration must be at least five years.

Q. Can I insist on a customer using the voucher in a single transaction?

No – your customer does not have to spend the full amount of the gift voucher in a single transaction.

Q. Do I have to refund the balance of the voucher amount to the customer?

Yes – if they only use part of the gift voucher and there is a balance of more than €1 you can refund the difference in one of the following ways:

  1. cash
  2. electronic transfer (credit/debit card)
  3. gift voucher – the expiry date will be the same as the original gift voucher

Q. Can I charge a customer for changing or amending the name on the gift voucher?

No you cannot charge a fee for changing or amending the name on a gift voucher.

Q. Can I limit the number of gift vouchers a customer can use in a single transaction?

No you cannot limit the number of gift vouchers a person is allowed to use in a single transaction. They can use more than one voucher at a time.

Q. Does the new legislation apply if I sell gift vouchers to other businesses?

Yes – under the legislation a gift voucher contract is one between a trader and another person, which includes business to business contracts.

 

 

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