Social Democrats introduce Bill to ban rip-offs on gift vouchers

December 1, 2017

Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy TD., today introduces the Consumer Protection (Gift Vouchers) Bill, 2017 to the Dáil which would tilt the balance in favour of consumers by banning many of the sneaky charges associated with gift vouchers.

The Bill would ensure gift vouchers are valid for at least five years, would ban charges for issuing gift vouchers and would ban the practice of applying charges to unused or inactive balances. It would also ban any charging for the repayment of credit balances on gift vouchers.

Deputy Murphy said:
“The whole area of gift vouchers and gift cards is largely unregulated in Ireland with everything stacked against the consumer.

“Retailers are free to put any expiry period on gift vouchers with many opting for just 12 months. This amounts to an unfair ‘use it or lose it policy’ and is just not acceptable. These are not gifts or money-off from the retailer – they are actually money, paid for by customers. Our Bill would mean all gift vouchers have an expiry period of at least 5 years.”

“One of the worst anti-consumer practices we found while preparing this Bill is the practice of charging “administration fees” after a certain period. Quite a number of high profile shopping centres and gift card providers operate in this fashion. This results in the credit on the card being run down until the value of the card drops to zero. Such terms and conditions would be banned under this Bill. At up to €3 per month on some gift cards, these are exorbitant charges that rip-off consumers.”

“We are entering the busy pre-Christmas Shopping period, with Black Friday this week, and the peak sales period for gift vouchers. Many of us will give and receive gift vouchers for Christmas for everything from food, books, clothes and sporting goods to meals out or hotel stays. It’s important that legislation is in place to ensure that neither those giving nor those receiving gift vouchers are ripped off by sneaky charges.”

Read our Vouchers Bill here.

ENDS

21 November 2017