Gift voucher Bill to pass ahead of ‘peak buying period’

Legislation ensures gift cards valid for at least five years

Gift vouchers are set to last for a minimum of five years

Gift vouchers are set to last for a minimum of five years

 

Consumers are set to get an early Christmas bonus with the passage of legislation that will ensure gift vouchers last a minimum of five years.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said she expected to have the Bill passed by the Seanad shortly and “in force in time for the peak Christmas buying period for gift vouchers”.

The Minister was speaking as the Dáil passed the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2019.

Ms Humphreys said “the provision for a five-year minimum term for gift vouchers and other protections contained in the Bill will be of real benefit to the very many consumers who give and receive gift vouchers”.

The Bill was originally dealt with by the Seanad but goes back to the Upper House to consider amendments passed in the Dáil.

The Minister said the amendments made to the Bill “have improved it considerably and they are important provisions that I believe significantly strengthen the protections provided for”.

Consumers in Ireland spend an estimated €600 million every year on vouchers and between 5 per cent and 50 per cent of such gifts are believed not to be redeemed.

The Government has repeatedly stated that a five-year timeframe is “reasonable” for vouchers and responsible businesses want to treat customers fairly.

In the United States the minimum deadline is at least five years and a number of states there have put a complete ban on expiry dates as have some provinces in Canada.

Until now expiry dates have varied from as little as six months up to 10 years, with larger retailers typically offering a two-year deadline, while in the travel and hospitality sector a one-year expiry date was common.

Protections for consumers in the Bill also include an obligation on airlines to honour gift vouchers where the name of the recipient is spelt differently from the name on their passport.

Minister of State John Halligan has previously said it was a “manifestly unfair” practice for an airline to refuse to honour vouchers with a different spelling.