Retailers face new rules on gift vouchers ahead of Christmas

Five-year minimum on expiry for all vouchers sold from Monday

Charging a fee for changing a name on a gift voucher is also outlawed by the new rules. Photograph: iStock

Charging a fee for changing a name on a gift voucher is also outlawed by the new rules. Photograph: iStock

 

Retailers have been warned they need to comply with new rules on gift vouchers.

The Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019 means that any vouchers sold from Monday must be valid for at least five years from the date they are purchased.

The new rules are likely to complicate voucher sales for retailers as the Christmas rush begins, though they have been flagged for some time. Retailers are now required to provide a record of the expiry date to customers in writing – either on paper or by email. If there is no expiry date, that should be expressly stated.

Shop staff are also now barred from limiting the amount of vouchers used in any transaction. And they cannot refuse to accept vouchers just because they are not in the name of the person using them.

Charging a fee for changing a name on a gift voucher is also outlawed by the new rules.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said that gift vouchers sold before the new legislation came into effect on Monday do not have to comply with the new requirements. However, any gift vouchers issued from today must be provided under the conditions detailed in the new legislation.

“This legislation gives consumers valuable additional protections and in the run-up to Christmas it will be of considerable benefit to anyone who buys or receives a gift voucher,” said CCPC chairwoman Isolde Goggin.

“Businesses, whether they are a restaurant, hotel, service provider or retailer, now need to take action and check that they are compliant with the law.”