A public consultation to examine gift voucher fees has been launched, Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon has said.
The Government has agreed to enact new legislation for a minimum lifespan of five years for gift vouchers.
Under the new proposals the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, will have power to make regulations to set fees for the issue and replacement of gift vouchers, and for inactive balances on gift vouchers. These are commonly referred to as dormancy or maintenance fees.
The purpose of the public consultation is to gather information and views on gift voucher fees to assist the Minister in deciding on the level of fees, if any, that should apply. The first part of the consultation paper seeks the inputs of consumers on gift voucher fees and the second part seeks the inputs of businesses.
Deputy Heydon said: “Gift vouchers are widely used in Ireland and are popular because people assume they are transparent, but without laws to regulate them. This has been a grey area for too long. These proposals are about making things black and white.
“With a solid regulatory foundation, we will see greater transparency with the fee’s on gift vouchers as well as a minimum lifespan of five years.
“In some cases, fees of up to €3 per month are applied to gift vouchers after a year. In effect, this means that a voucher for €25 can be worthless after 20 months. It seems clear that many consumers who receive gift vouchers are not aware of these fees.
“Understandably, consumers feel they should be able to redeem gift vouchers at their full face value, however, the businesses applying these fees claim that they are essential to meet the costs involved.
“Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, wants to get the widest possible range of views on these issues. I would urge consumers, businesses and anyone else with an interest in this matter to respond to the consultation by the closing date of 31 August 2018.”