Consumer Protection Act and Gift Vouchers

It is the week before Christmas, you thought you had enough time but now you are frantically looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your family, friends and colleagues.

You realise you are running out of options and most likely patience too so, you opt for the good old gift voucher. It’s convenient, saves you a lot of time and the receiver can then choose something themselves that they really want or need and after all, it is the thought that counts.

As a consumer you have most likely never thought about the law, if any, relating to gift vouchers.

Section 63 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), imposes requirements on suppliers in order to regulate this service and deals with vouchers that are exchanged for, amongst other things, money.

The most important aspect of this section deals with the expiration of vouchers exchanged for consideration. It provides that a voucher in terms of this section, does not expire until the full value thereof has been redeemed or three years after the date on which it was issued. That sounds quite simple.

However, if you have a voucher that offers goods or services and the price of such goods or services increases over the duration of validity of the voucher, the supplier is only obliged to provide the goods or services to the holder of the voucher up to the value represented by it. The holder will then be required to pay in the balance of any sum outstanding.

This however should not be confused with coupons and promotions offered by suppliers. Section 34 of the CPA deals with this and does not apply to loyalty programmes or promotional competitions.

Consumers should take the time to read the suppliers fine print containing the terms and conditions when electing to purchase a gift voucher, using a loyalty programme or purchasing goods on promotion.