EXPIRY dates on gift vouchers are to be banned by the Government as part of a major overhaul of consumer law.
The changes are part of a new Consumer Rights Bill which Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton unveiled today.
Every year thousands of gift vouchers and cards go to waste because they are out of date, so the ban on expiry dates will be a massive benefit to consumers.
A survey by the National Consumer Agency (NCA) found that 48pc of consumers have let a voucher lapse in the past, showing this is an extremely widespread problem.
When it comes to gifts, the new law will also give consumers who get a present the same rights as the person who purchased it.
The bill will also give people much stronger rights when it comes to online purchases, in recognition of the huge surge of such business, Mr Bruton said.
"A consumer who buys a film on DVD enjoys the protection of consumer legislation, while one who streams or downloads the same film does not," he said.
People buying services will also get enhanced rights, including the option to have a substandard service remedied or refunded for the first time.
Customers will also be given a standard 30-day period to return faulty goods and get a full refund in place of the current unclear rules.
The new law will clear up gaps in consumer rights that had grown up through years of overlapping legislation at national and EU level.
Consumer champion: see page 18