Here at Consumer Protection BC, we receive hundreds of consumer inquiries each week. They come to us through our inquiry centre or social media accounts as well as through here, on our blog. For today’s post, we thought it might be fun to post a few consumer questions (and our answers!) about the hot topic of gift cards. We’ve gotten more than 20 comments on ONE of our posts on this topic alone!
Our golf course has put time and purchase restrictions on gift vouchers that are purchased at the golf course. They say they must be used by September 30th of the year purchased and can only be used on non-sale items. They are calling them vouchers instead of gift certificates. The vouchers are purchased at face value. $10 voucher purchased for $10.
The gift card law doesn’t speak to what the voucher can be used for (so that relates to your non-sale items issue); however, if the voucher is for a dollar value ($10), expiry dates are not allowed. It doesn’t matter what you call them – vouchers, gift certificates, pre-paid purchase cards – the law still applies. To be clear though, if the voucher is for a service (i.e. 5 golf lessons), then expiry dates are allowed. Based on the information you have provided, it sounds like they shouldn’t be putting expiry dates on those vouchers.
I purchased a Couvon coupon for a one-hour massage. One week before it expired, I called to make an appointment. I was told they were too busy and said they would not honour the coupon. I was told I should have called much earlier. Couvon has a 30-day limit on refunds, so that was not an option. Can you tell me if the coupon retains its purchased value under the gift card laws of BC?
Thanks for your question and I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I would recommend checking with Couvon to see if they will refund what was paid based on the circumstance, or if you can use the amount paid towards a service with the business. Discounted coupons are exempt from the legislation because you are paying less than the value and can expire. So unfortunately this means that coupons/daily deals such as Groupon, Couvon, etc. aren’t covered by the gift card law.
I bought a gift card before November 1, 2008, but the expiry date wasn’t until June 2010. Would the card no longer be usable, or would it be ok because it didn’t expire until after the law passed?
If the gift card was purchased before the law came into place, the expiry date applies. This would mean that your card is no longer valid I’m afraid. That being said, you could always ask the business if they are willing to honour it.
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