Buying gifts can be a tricky business – it’s often best to give a gift voucher and let the recipient make all the difficult decisions!

A gift voucher is basically a contract that can be exchanged for goods or services. This means that purchasing a voucher enters you into an agreement with the vendor – you’re then bound by the terms and conditions of the voucher, but this gives you some protection!

This guide will explore some common problems and outline your rights when things go wrong.


Loss, expiry and damage

Expired gift cards

Gift cards and vouchers do have an expiry date – this should be made clear to you when you buy the card. If you feel the expiry date of the card was hidden from you, you may be able to make a claim.

The time it takes for a gift voucher to expire is decided by the vendor – our advice is to check the expiry date as soon as you receive it.

There aren’t any specific laws that say how long a gift voucher or card should last, meaning they could last anywhere from a few months to a few years. If the card is valid for an exceptionally short period of time, it may be possible to argue that the time limit represents an unfair term – this is, however, unlikely.

Our advice is to use Resolver to contact the retailer – although they’re under no obligation to extend gift cards or gift vouchers, they may choose to do so as a goodwill gesture.

Damaged gift cards

On some occasions, shops may refuse to accept any damaged gift cards – this includes damage to any “scratch-off” sections or stickers! In these cases, we advise you to contact the gift card provider and ask them to replace the damaged card or voucher.

Lost vouchers

If you lose the voucher, the provider isn’t obliged to replace it. If, however, you have a receipt, we advise you to contact the vendor – there is a possibility they may replace it as a gesture of goodwill! In some cases, retailers may only deal with the person who originally purchased the ticket. In these cases, we recommend that you ask the person who purchased the ticket to contact the retailer on your behalf.


Redeeming a gift card

Terms and conditions

All gift cards and vouchers should display their terms and conditions on the card itself.

If the terms and conditions weren’t clear to you at the point of purchase, then you may be able to make a claim that the terms of the voucher are contrary to the requirements of good faith and that you didn’t enter into the sale of the voucher in a fair and open way.

Getting change from gift vouchers

You can’t get change when you use a gift voucher – unless the terms and conditions of the voucher say otherwise! Retailers may offer you a gift voucher to account for the difference, but this is at their discretion. If the balance of your gift voucher is on an electronic card, retailers will usually adjust the balance to account for the change.

Trader has gone out of business

Unfortunately, you may not be able to get your gift voucher honoured. If the company has been sold and is now managed by a new owner, they probably won’t be responsible for any of the previous owner’s liabilities.

If a retailer goes bankrupt, anyone who holds a gift card will be considered a creditor – you’ll need to make a claim in writing to the administrators. You’ll then be placed in a queue along with other creditors. You will, however, be placed low on the list of creditors – it’s fairly unlikely you’ll get your money back.

We advise you to keep an eye on the news! If you discover that a retailer is going bust, make a beeline to the nearest shop to spend your gift cards! They may not retain any value if the retailer goes down.



Gift cards sent from abroad

If you’re being sent gift cards from abroad (for example, by family members as a gift), you should be aware that you may be charged VAT on the value of the gift card! This applies to gifts of value over £34.

Since you’ll then also be charged VAT on anything you buy with the gift card, we advise you to ask that your relatives email you gift vouchers instead!

Delivery costs weren't included in the price of the vouchers!

if you’ve ordered vouchers and found that you’ve unexpectedly been charged for delivery, you may be able to complain! The rules say that any delivery costs should be made clear to you at the point of purchase, and you should use Resolver to contact the trader with your concerns.

Gift voucher took a long time to arrive!

You are entitled to expect your goods to be delivered on the date that was agreed upon when your order was placed. If no date was given or agreed, the trader must get your purchases to you within 30 days of the order being placed. If this does not happen, you are entitled to a full refund. You should raise your issue with the company issuing your voucher as soon as possible using Resolver.


Other issues

Experience was not as promised in voucher!

If you find that an experience paid for with a voucher is not as expected, you should use Resolver to raise a complaint with the service provider. You’ve got a right to get what you’ve paid for, delivered with a reasonable degree of care. If you feel you’ve been deliberately misled, you may be able to claim misrepresentation.

I was charged an administration fee for activating my gift card!

Any charges should be made clear to you before you purchase any gift cards or vouchers. If you feel you have been hit with an unfair charge, you should use Resolver to make a complaint!

My gift card account has been hacked!

In cases where you have an account associated with a gift card, you may be at risk from thieves who are able to hack into your account to drain it of any funds. You should be especially careful of any gift card accounts with an auto-load function, as thieves may use these accounts to quickly cause you significant loss.

Your details will typically be stolen through the use of malware or phishing scams. Always maintain up-to-date anti-malware software and be wary of any emails demanding personal details or login information.

If you find that you’ve been the victim of hacking, you should use Resolver to contact the company you have an account with. Additionally, you should contact ActionFraud to report the crime and get a Police incident report number.

Charged card twice

If you find that you’ve been incorrectly charged when purchasing a gift card or voucher, you should use Resolver to contact the retailer directly. If the retailer cannot resolve your problem, you should consider using Resolver to contact your bank or credit card company.


Gift card complaints tool

Working with

With Resolver you can send your case to key ombudsmen and regulators including: