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Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019

Main Provisions

The Act contains a few substantive changes to the way gift vouchers operate including:

  1. Gift Vouchers must be valid for at least 5 years
  2. If the voucher contains an expiry date, then the expiry date must be specified on the voucher
  3. A gift voucher shall not force the consumer to redeem the full value of the gift voucher in one transaction
  4. If the voucher is mostly redeemed but the remaining balance left over is so small that is cannot be redeemed, then the trader is obliged to reimburse the remaining balance to the person.  The Trader can do this in cash, by electronic funds transfer or by issuing a new voucher of the appropriate value. 
  5. A gift voucher contract is not allowed to limit the number of gift vouchers that a person is allowed to redeem in one transaction
  6. Where a gift voucher contract contains a provision for how a gift voucher can be replaced if it is lost or stolen, then the replacement gift voucher must not expire before the date of the original gift voucher. 

Prior Situation

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.

Welcome Change

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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