Gift vouchers have become a popular choice for gift-giving occasions as they offer flexibility and convenience for both the giver and the recipient of the gift. Such vouchers are undoubtedly the safer option when we are not sure what the person receiving the gift needs or wishes.

But we should also be aware of our rights and what precautions we need to take when making such purchases. This to ensure we get the best value for our money and avoid making wrong purchase choices.

Before buying a gift voucher, the first thing to check is the expiry date. Some vouchers have a short expiration date, which could mean the recipient of the gift voucher might not have enough time to use it before it expires.

When there is no expiry date written on the voucher, it means there is no time limit by when the voucher must be used.

While these types of vouchers are undoubtedly more beneficial to consumers, they should still be used within a reasonable time as there is always the risk of losing the voucher or that the shop that issued it may close down. If this happens, unfortunately consumers risk ending up empty-handed.

Another important responsibility is checking the voucher’s terms and conditions. This will enable the giver and the recipient of the gift voucher to know what restrictions apply.

For instance, there may be information on whether the gift voucher must be used only on a single purchase or if it can be used on multiple purchases. This is especially important if the giver wants to offer a voucher of a high value.

It is also worth checking if the gift voucher can be personalised- Odette Vella

In this case, if all the voucher’s value needs to be used in one purchase, it would be wise for the giver to buy multiple vouchers of smaller values.

Where a gift voucher can be redeemed is another important factor to consider. There are gift vouchers that can be redeemed only from one specific shop and others that can be used to buy from a chain of shops.

This information is usually included in the voucher’s terms and conditions. So when choosing a gift voucher, it is important to consider what the intended recipient of the voucher would like to buy. This would help ensure that the voucher can be redeemed at a shop or chain of outlets that sells products that the receiver of the voucher would be interested to buy.

It is also worth checking if the gift voucher can be personalised. As vouchers may be lost or stolen, a personalised voucher would make it possible for the shop or seller of the voucher to cancel it and issue another one. If a voucher that is not personalised is lost, it may not be replaceable. So it is the responsibility of the recipient of the voucher to keep it safe until it is redeemed.

Finally, it is important to ensure that whoever will use the voucher knows how to redeem it and is aware of any terms and conditions associated with its use. So it is important for the terms and conditions of use to be clearly written on the gift voucher.

Purchasers and users of gift vouchers should also be aware that once a gift voucher is purchased, its terms and conditions of use cannot be altered and must be observed by both the recipient and the seller.

If sellers try to impose new conditions, or the recipients are not allowed to use the vouchers as per the original terms, the recipients may seek redress through the Office for Consumer Affairs at the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

Odette Vella is director, Information and Research Directorate, MCCAA.



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