Smart Consumer: What are my rights when it comes to gift vouchers?
Published 14/01/2010 | 05:00
Gift vouchers make a great Christmas present, but what terms and conditions are attached to these popular stocking fillers? As one reader found out, not all vouchers are as flexible as they seem.
Doreen van Coller lives in Sweden and was home in Ireland with her fiancee for Christmas. She contacted Smart Consumer due to her frustration with gift vouchers she received.
As they were house bound due to bad weather, they decided to exchange the One4All gift vouchers they had received for cash because they wouldn't have time to spend them while here.
But when Doreen read the fine print she felt the vouchers were far from being the flexible option they are described as.
Doreen writes: "If you decide to cash it in, you do not get the full voucher value returned to you. I may be incorrect but I think that in the case of a €60 voucher, only €52 will be received by the customer upon exchange."
She continues: "In the past it was possible to use any vouchers as part of a larger purchase but now the item/s has to match the value of the voucher or be slightly less.
"The customer receives no change below a certain value in the event of the item/s costing less and the customer cannot use the voucher at all in the event of the item/s costing more. Who gets the money resulting from these transactions?" Doreen ends by saying she would like to "warn the general public to read the small print before purchasing these vouchers".
Doreen's advice about reading the terms and conditions of these vouchers, or indeed anything you buy, is sound.
However, there is confusion here as to what One4all's rules are, as you can add cash to a voucher to complete a purchase. However, vouchers are not exchangeable for cash.
One4all state: "This consumer seems to have misread the One4all terms and conditions as One4all Gift Vouchers can be used as part payment.
"One4all Gift Vouchers can be used as full or part payment for good or services in any of the 4,500 outlets nationwide that accept One4all.
"Therefore, if something is of higher value, One4all Gift Vouchers can be used along with other forms of tender such as cash, credit or debit cards to pay for the goods or services. If the full value of the One4all Gift Voucher is not spent in one transaction, then it is at the retailer's discretion as to what change to provide. Usually change will be given in the form of cash or own store voucher. A One4all Gift Voucher cannot be given as change."
They end that "as clearly stated in number five of the One4all terms and conditions, One4all Gift Vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash".
However, they added that they do look into individual cases and so advise Doreen to contact the One4all Customer Service team on 01-8708111 and they will be able to help as best as they can.