Always check terms and conditions on gift vouchers
I recently received a gift voucher for a furniture shop as a house-warming present.
When I bought a bedside table from the store, which cost less than the voucher amount, I was told by the staff that no change would be given and that they would issue us with a new voucher for the balance of €15.
Are shops allowed to do this?
The furniture shop is now going to pocket the €15 balance, because it is unlikely that we will buy anything else in the shop.
In this instance, the furniture shop is within its rights to issue you with another voucher.
You do not have the right to receive change in cash when you use a gift voucher, unless the voucher's terms specifically state that change will be given. It is up to you to use the full value.
As you are not entitled to get change, you should check to see if the gift voucher is transferable, because it may be worthwhile offering the remaining amount to someone you know who might be buying something from the shop.
When you receive a gift voucher or gift card, always try to minimise the risk by checking the terms and conditions, including the expiry date, what happens to any unused value, and whether it can be used in every outlet if the shop is part of a chain.
If you buy a gift voucher or gift card for someone else, pass on this information to the person receiving the voucher for and encourage them to use it as soon as they can, so that they get the enjoyment out of the gift.
For more information on your rights when using and buying gift vouchers, visit www.consumerhelp.ie.
Siobhán Howe works with the National Consumer Agency. firstname.lastname@example.org