Everything you need to know about the new gift voucher laws
From today, businesses across Ireland will need to review the terms and conditions of the gift vouchers they sell to ensure that they comply with new legislation, the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published guidance to help businesses understand the new legislation and assess how the new rules may impact on their current gift vouchers policy.
Under the new laws, a gift voucher cannot have an expiry date less than five years from the date it was purchased, a welcome change for many consumers.
In advice to businesses, the CCPC stated:
- You must provide a record of the expiry date to your customers in writing for example on paper or by email. If there is no expiry date then it should be stated.
- You cannot limit the amount of vouchers used in a single transaction.
- You cannot refuse to accept gift vouchers that are not in the user’s name.
- Traders cannot charge a fee for changing or amending the name on a gift voucher.
Authorities also stated that gift vouchers that were sold before the new legislation came into effect on December 2, 2019, do not have to comply with the new requirements.
However, any gift vouchers issued from that date must be provided under the conditions detailed in the new legislation. If a business has vouchers pre-printed, they can give the customer written confirmation of whether there is an expiry period and if so the date that applies.
Speaking about the commencement of the legislation, Chairperson of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Isolde Goggin, said: "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. 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.
"We know that this is a busy and critical time for businesses so we are providing them with practical information to help them make the necessary changes they need to their gift voucher terms and conditions."
The information for businesses is available on www.ccpc.ie. The CCPC are also engaging with major trade associations and representative groups to get this information to as many businesses as possible.
The CCPC’s website also provides information for those who are buying gift vouchers. From today the CCPC has added to this by commencing a public awareness campaign to help consumers understand their rights and get the most from the gift vouchers they buy or receive.