Gift vouchers and gift cards can be very convenient gifts, both to give and to receive, but they can also be a little tricky. Here’s what you should remember when buying or using gift vouchers.
Read the Terms and Conditions
Always check any terms and conditions that come with it. If you are giving a voucher as a gift, remember to pass along any terms and conditions that came with the voucher.
Regardless of the type of voucher you buy – one with a monetary value or for something specific – the company issuing the voucher should include any important terms when you buy it. These can tell you:
- Where can the voucher be used
If the gift vouchers can be used in a specific shop, restaurant etc, a chain of shops, or a wide range of shops (for example a shopping centre).
- What is the expiry date
Irish law does not currently regulate voucher expiry dates, therefore they can vary widely. Always check if there is an expiry date printed on the voucher and if not, ask the business. Don’t assume that there is no expiry date just because it is not listed in the terms and conditions.
- What you can do with money left over on the voucher
You do not have the right to get change when you use a gift voucher unless the voucher’s terms specifically state that change will be given. So check if you can use the voucher in more than one transaction.
- Are there any maintenance fees
Some gift cards have maintenance fees of approximately €3 per month which come into effect after a period of time. So if you give someone one of these gift cards worth €40, and they don’t use it for a year, maintenance charges at €3 a month could mean there is only €4 left on it after a year.
|If you buy a gift voucher or card, then you are bound by the terms and conditions – even if you give the gift voucher to someone else as a present.
If you giving someone a gift voucher as a present you should make sure you also give them any terms and conditions that come with it.
If you lose a gift voucher, the shop doesn’t have to replace it – it’s just like losing cash.
|Did you Know?|
|If the voucher was made out to you specifically and is non-transferable, the shop may be able to issue a new voucher and cancel the original. It may be worth contacting the shop and asking if this is possible.|
|Remember consumer rights apply to gift cards just like any other item. So if the card is faulty and doesn’t work when you go to use it, you can return it for a replacement or refund.|
Online Deal Websites
Deal websites are platforms that let you buy vouchers for goods, services or experiences from other businesses, e.g. a mattress, meal or beauty treatment. When buying a voucher on a deal website, you pay the deal website the price and redeem the voucher with a third party business for the good or service.
Generally, when you buy something from a deal website and you do not have to go to a third party website to redeem the voucher, you are entering into a contract with that deal website for that item. It is the same as buying an item from any online retailer and the same rights apply. More information about your rights when you buy online is available in our Buying Online section.
However, this can vary between deal websites and items bought so always read the terms and conditions.
|If anything goes wrong, check your bank statement. Your contract is usually with the website that took your money.|
When you buy a voucher from a deal website for a service you are entering into two contracts; the first with the deal website for a valid voucher and the second with the service provider for the service.
When you buy a voucher from a deal website, you enter into a contract with the website for the voucher. Once you receive a valid voucher the website may be seen to have fulfilled their part of the contract.
If the voucher is not valid then you have the same consumer rights as you do when you buy something online or in store – the right to a replacement or refund if the voucher does not work through no fault of your own.
As these vouchers are usually bought online, you also have the same 14 day right to cancel as you do when shopping online.
The second contract is with the business supplying the service. You have the same consumer rights as you do when you buy a service directly from the business – the right to expect that:
- The service you paid for is provided with proper care and attention
- The business providing it has the appropriate skills to do the job
- Any materials they use in the work are sound and fit for their purpose
- Any goods they supply to you as part of the service should be of acceptable quality too
If this is not the case then you have the right to redress – have the business either fix the problem or give you a full or partial refund. Under consumer legislation it is the supplier of the service who is responsible for providing redress. You can find more information on what you are entitled to in our contracts and services section.
|It is important to read the terms and conditions with vouchers you buy on deal websites. These can set out the expiry date, any restrictions, cancellation procedures, how to book etc. Remember when you buy a voucher, you are bound by the terms and conditions whether or not you have read them.|
Find out where you stand if the company goes out of business or changes ownership, click here for more information.
Did you buy a voucher online? Check out our information on Buying Online for more on your rights.