Public consulted on retailers applying fees to gift vouchers

Move comes as Government backs minimum lifespan of five years for such vouchers

Minister pointed out that in some cases fees of up to €3 per month are applied to gift vouchers after a year. Photograph: iStock

Minister pointed out that in some cases fees of up to €3 per month are applied to gift vouchers after a year. Photograph: iStock

 

The public’s views on fees imposed by retailers and companies that issue gift vouchers are being sought as part of a consultation launched by the Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys.

The consultation comes on the back of an announcement last month that the Government had backed an Unfair Contract Terms (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2018, which proposes a minimum lifespan of five years for gift vouchers.

The Bill also proposes that the Minister be given the power to make regulations to set fees for the issue and replacement of gift vouchers.

The purpose of the public consultation is to gather information and views on gift voucher fees before the Minister decides on the level of fees, if any, that should apply. Views of both consumers and businesses are being sought.

“Plenty of consumers buy gift vouchers and plenty of businesses sell them, but without laws to regulate them, this has been a grey area for too long,” Ms Humphreys said. “These proposals are about making things black and white.”

She pointed out that in some cases fees of up to €3 per month are applied to gift vouchers after a year. “In effect, this means that a voucher for €25 can be worthless after 20 months. It seems clear that many consumers who receive gift vouchers are not aware of these fees,” she said.

She said consumers believed they “should be able to redeem gift vouchers at their full face value. However, the businesses applying these fees claim that they are essential to meet the costs involved.”

She said she was seeking the “widest possible range of views” on the issues and urged consumers, businesses and anyone else with an interest in this matter to respond by the end of August.