Gift Cards & Vouchers

Gift Card Regulations UK – What are my rights?

Your consumer rights, when it comes to gift cards and vouchers, differ depending on whether you were the original purchaser or you received it as a gift from someone else. If you have lost your gift card, need it replaced or the company you bought the voucher or card from has gone into administration, you legally have a number of options available to you under UK law.

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We’ve put together an extension guide to gift card regulations in the UK, consumer rights for gift vouchers in the UK and gift voucher terms and conditions. We hope that this guide will help you; however, please get in touch if you require further assistance.

Consumer Rights & Protection
If you are planning to purchase a gift card, voucher or experience day that is worth £100+ you should consider paying for it on a credit card rather than a debit card. If you pay on credit card, the card company is then jointly liable with the retailer if there are any problems. This ensures that you have extra legal rights under section 75 of the consumer credit act. However, make sure that you are comfortable in clearing the credit card in full next month to avoid further interest charges.

Are you the original purchaser of the gift card or voucher?
Regardless of whether you want to make a complaint about the expiry date on your gift card or you’ve lost the voucher you were given as a Christmas present, your rights will depend on whether you originally purchased the gift code or if you got it as a present from someone else.

If you are the original purchaser of the gift card or voucher, then luckily you are the one bound by the terms made at the time of purchase. Even if you then gave the voucher or gift card to someone else as a present, you will still be the one bound by these terms.

However, if you aren’t the one that purchased the gift voucher or card and instead received it as a present from a friend, family member or anyone else, you will have to speak to the person who initially purchases it.

Gift Voucher Terms and Conditions
Whether you have bought a gift card with store credit on it for yourself, or a voucher for a special experience day to give to someone else, the original company that you bought the voucher or gift card from should include any important terms at the time of purchase. You should always check the terms thoroughly, and they should be either printed on the voucher itself or included on the packaging.

If, when you bought the gift voucher or gift card, the terms weren’t justly brought to your attention, then you can use this to your advantage if you later want to make a complaint. For example, if the terms were hidden in some way (commonly if the conditions are printed on the back of a card that is stuck down onto the packaging), then you can argue that the terms are contrary to the requirements of good faith. This means that the terms must be presented, negotiated and agreed with you in a fair and open way.

Gift Card Refund Law in the UK
Unfortunately, no UK law directly gives you the right to a refund for a gift card or voucher, even if you are the original purchaser. Many retailers will include in the terms and conditions that, one the card or voucher is purchased that it can’t be returned refunded or exchanged for cash value.

In some rare cases, a store may still give you a full refund if the gift voucher or card is returned within 30 days and if the card was initially purchased from that retailer and not a third party.

However, if these terms weren’t made clear to you are the time of purchase then you may have a case for a claim in which you can recover the money spent buying the card or voucher.

Can I extend my gift card?
In some cases, if a gift card or voucher has expired, you can extend it by paying a fee. Unless the purchaser of the gift voucher or card can prove that the terms and conditions of the expiry date weren’t made clear, it’s unlikely that you can extend the expiry date for free.

Lost Gift Card – What can I do?
If you have misplaced or lost your gift card, you can sometimes get a new one sent to your email address for free or have a physical replacement sent if you pay a small fee.

It depends on the terms and conditions of your particular gift card or voucher as to whether the retailer will replace it for you. You should first contact the retailer and ask for their help. Make sure you include any information that could be useful, such as the date of purchase and any receipts. If you received the card or voucher as a present, you would have to contact the person who purchased it originally.

Can I use my vouchers if a company goes bust?
If a retailer goes bust, the company handling the administration will treat customers who have vouchers or gift cards as creditors. This means that you are included in the business’ other creditors, who are all trying to claim back any money owed. Legally the administrators are required to treat creditors equally and therefore can’t give certain creditors priority of any others.

Legally only the person who paid has the right to return faulty goods.If you have purchased a gift card or voucher and the company has gone into administration, you should formally write a letter to the administrators to begin a claim. Make sure to include all proof of purchase and important information.

It is also worth visiting the store first to see if the voucher can still be used. In some cases, the company will always honour coupons and gift cards.

In cases when businesses are bought up by another company, gift cards and vouchers from the previous operation are also sometimes accepted, so it’s always worth checking.

If the card or gift voucher was bought through a third party high street store or website, the person who purchased it should check to see if they will offer a full refund. Whilst there is no legal right to a refund, the seller could still offer a refund to maintain their reputation and offer good customer service.

If the gift card or voucher cost over £100 and was paid by credit card, there is also the option to make a Section 75 claim under the Consumer Credit Act.

In some cases you may be able to claim under chargeback rules to your credit or debit card provider even if the value was under £100; however, this isn’t always successful.

Can I return items bought with a gift voucher?
Regardless of whether you have bought a good or service with a gift voucher, payment card, cash or a combination, your rights as a consumer are still the same. If you have bought an item of clothing that is the wrong size or have purchased faulty goods by accident, you are still entitled to a repair or replacement. The length of time you have to return the item is typically 14 days as long as it is in reasonable condition and usually in the original packaging.

Expired Gift Cards Complaints
All gift cards or vouchers will expire eventually, however, the length of time will vary depending on where you have purchased the card from or the type of voucher. Sometimes gift card and vouchers will be restricted to seasonal months, specific dates or a certain length of time like 3 or 12 months from the date of purchase.

Regardless of the expiry time on the voucher or card, these types of restrictions are allowed so long as they are made clear to the person purchasing them.

If you are planning to buy gift cards, vouchers or experience days for someone else as a present, it’s important to read and understand the expiry date to make sure the person receiving the gift has enough time to spend or redeem it.

If you receive a gift voucher or card from someone else, then you should also read the terms and conditions to make sure you can redeem it within the time and date restrictions. If you are unsure, you can contact the retailer or check the issuer’s website to make sure.

However, if the terms of expiry aren’t made clear on the documents, card or voucher itself, you may have grounds to make a complaint if you were unable to redeem it due to the card or voucher expiring so long as you are the person who originally purchased the item. In all cases, if you feel as though the terms weren’t made clear, you should first contact the retailer with your concerns. If the retailer fails to help you and you still feel you have a solid case for a complaint you could speak to trading standards or another consumer group.

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