The Act contains a few substantive changes to the way gift vouchers operate including:
Before this Act there was no regulation of expiry dates of gift vouchers and there was no specific legislation dealing with gift vouchers, although gift vouchers supplied to consumers were subject to the provisions of general consumer protection legislation. Under the previous regime, retailers were free to determine the expiry dates of their gift vouchers, with some expiring after as alittle as six months. Retailers were able to refuse to give the change (even in voucher form) for a purchase by the value of a gift card. Retailers also often refuse to accept vouchers during sale periods. Many gift vouchers issuers did not replace lost or stolen gift vouchers.
The Act is good news for consumers, in particular in light of the pre-Christmas shopping season. Although the Act fails to address all of the issues with gift vouchers (e.g. it does not deal with inactive balances or retailers fees), the protection that it brings for consumers are to be welcomed.
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