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04 Jul 2022

Get vouchers this Christmas? Be aware of your rights!

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Consumers need to know their rights around gift vouchers

People must be aware of minimum expiry dates and other consumer protections set out in legislation when buying and using vouchers this Christmas, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Garret Ahearn, Fine Gael’s Seanad Spokesperson on Enterprise & Trade, said, “Although consumer rights related to gift vouchers are set down in law, some businesses are not complying with the legislation and must update their practices, as well as their terms and conditions.

“Ireland was the first European country to introduce laws which protects consumers when buying and using gift vouchers. However, when it comes to redeeming them in shops, hotels or restaurants, many consumers aren’t aware of their rights.

“Legislation introduced by Fine Gael in Government states any vouchers purchased since December 2nd, 2019 must have an expiry date of at least five years from the day it was purchased.

“Under the law, multiple gift vouchers can also be used in a single transaction. In addition, you also don’t have to use the voucher in one go. If there’s a balance of more than €1 on the voucher the business must refund the customer the difference in either cash, a debit/credit card transfer or another gift voucher.

“However, not all businesses have implemented these new protections, with some terms and conditions not reflecting the legislation.

“Some of the biggest retailers across the country are displaying incorrect information, in particular regarding expiry dates, on their websites. This is misleading and must be changed.

“A number of businesses are also not implementing the changes in practice. I was recently in a restaurant where I was told I had to spend the full value of my voucher in one sitting, in direct contradiction of the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Act 2019.

“Public awareness of this legislation is key. Consumers must know their rights and be empowered to call out any incorrect information or practices.

“However, the onus here is not on the consumer. All businesses must ensure they are in full compliance with the law and if not, they need to take immediate steps to update their terms and conditions in line with the legislation,” concluded Senator Ahearn.

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