Is there still value in buying vouchers?

Here, you can find the lowdown on your rights when it comes to vouchers and gift cards, credit notes and insurance companies who insist on giving vouchers.

Voucher expiry dates

Expiry dates are allowed so long as the person buying the voucher was made aware of this at the time of purchase. 

Always check the terms written on the voucher (or the packaging around it) as the purchaser will be bound by terms made known before, or at the time of purchase.

If the terms were not prominently bought to your attention - for example, hidden on the reverse side of the card or voucher and this couldn’t have been seen because the card was stuck down or enclosed in packaging - then you may be able to argue that the terms are contrary to the requirements of good faith. 

This means they must be designed, negotiated and entered into with you in a fair and open way and therefore unfair.

Should we accept credit notes?

The retailer could have a returns policy that states customers will only receive a credit note or vouchers.  

But this must only apply where customers have simply changed their mind or have bought the wrong colour or size, etc.

The exception is for most items bought at a distance (eg online or mail order) where the Consumer Contracts Regulations give you a cancellation period that starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

The seller’s returns policy can't require customers to take vouchers where an item has been returned because it has a problem. 

For example, it was faulty, not up to the job it was designed to do or it wasn’t as described. 

The Consumer Rights Act (which replaced the Sale of Goods Act in October 2015) specifies the rights that consumers have if products develop a fault and the seller can’t remove or reduce these. 

Checklist

  • Always check the terms and conditions written on the voucher, including the expiry date.
  • If you’ve been given your vouchers as part of an insurance payout, check if your policy says you should receive vouchers or not. Payout must mean your replacement item is ‘like or like’.

Vouchers as insurance payouts 

Carefully check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

If your policy states that your insurer uses a 'preferred supplier' then this could mean you'll be issued with vouchers. If you're unsure, check with your insurer directly. 

If your policy doesn’t say the insurance company can provide vouchers, then you can insist on either a cash payment or replacement items - whichever the policy says the insurer will provide.

Payout must be ‘like for like’

If the insurance policy allows the insurance company to settle a claim in vouchers, then they should be vouchers that enable you to replace your item ‘like for like’.

So, if you've had a piece of antique jewellery stolen, you shouldn't be given vouchers for a high street chain that only sells modern items.

In the same way, if you had a particular make of bicycle stolen, the vouchers should enable you to replace this with the same bike from that manufacturer.

After all, if your car was written off you wouldn’t expect your insurer to try to replace it with a different make and model.  

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