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If you are buying gift vouchers this Christmas, make sure you are protected.

Gift Vouchers, The Gannet

What are Gift Vouchers?

“Paper, plastic or electronic vouchers that can be exchanged for goods or services to the value printed, which can be used in accordance with the terms & conditions written.”

At this time of year sales of Gift Vouchers increases hugely. Restaurant Gifts was created to give consumers a safe & secure environment to purchase Hotel & Restaurant gift vouchers, the businesses listed on the site have invested in secure gift voucher solutions technologies to ensure that you, the consumer, are protected. Whether you buy direct on their site, or on www.restaurantgifts.com, you are using encrypted secure pages to order and deliver your gift. Not only that, you have clear terms & conditions and you are paying the Restaurant direct, not a third party.

If you are buying gift vouchers this Christmas, make sure you are protected.

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If a website promotes gift vouchers, they require to publish gift voucher terms & conditions online showing clear validity dates, delivery information, minimum age alcohol policy & details of how gift voucher payments will be processed, and to who. Are you paying the business? Are you paying a third party? There is also the question of financial risk and liability if you are buying from a third party, so it makes sense to make sure you know who you are paying.

If a website sells gift vouchers, make sure the page has https:// security and is linked to a secure and visible payment processor, such as Stripe, PayPal, Worldpay, Sagepay, Secure Trading, Realex etc. If there is no https://, NEVER ever enter your personal information or credit card details! Some sites have webforms which ask you to post or fax your credit card details to purchase gift vouchers, this is a breach of PCI compliance. I have worked in the gift voucher business for 7 years, and I am staggered on a daily basis by the lack of compliance, lack of knowledge and sometimes even lack of interest.

If you buy gift vouchers by phone, the seller must comply with UK data security standards and PCI compliance. Credit Card details should be entered into a secure card terminal and should never be requested or sent by fax or email, and they must never be written down or stored. Don’t be afraid to ask how your personal and credit card details are being processed or stored and always ask for a copy of their terms & conditions.pci

How you’re protected when you pay by card?

Paying by credit card can give you valuable legal protection if the company you’re buying from goes bust or doesn’t deliver what it’s promised, and you may be able to claim a refund from the credit card company. You may also get some protection when paying by debit card under a voluntary scheme.

Your rights when buying by credit card

If you use your credit card to buy something costing over £100 and up to £30,000, you’re covered by ‘section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act. It means the credit card company has equal responsibility (or ‘liability’) with the seller if there’s a problem with the things you’ve bought or the company you’ve bought them from fails.

Problems that are covered

  • The company has failed to supply the goods or have supplied goods that are not up to standard, or
  • The company must have misrepresented what it is supplying or selling; for example, a software supplier that says a software package you’re buying will work with a particular computer when it doesn’t.

Minimum and maximum spending limits

To qualify for protection from your credit card company, you have to spend between £100 and £30,000. The £100 minimum amount applies to each item or set of items you buy, as opposed to the total bill. For example, if you bought a dress and jacket that weren’t part of a suit, with each one costing less than £100, you wouldn’t qualify for the consumer protection under section 75.

Another example would be buying tickets for an event. A ‘family ticket’ would count as one item but individual tickets for family members would not. However, you may be able to make a claim against your credit card company under a voluntary scheme called ‘chargeback’ which I explain in the section below.

Understanding Charge-back

Debit cards are not covered by ‘section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act, although they offer a similar, voluntary, scheme called ‘chargeback’, which you can also use to make a claim if you use your credit card to buy something costing less than £100.

How Charge-back works

Charge-back isn’t a legal protection like section 75. It’s an agreement that Visa, Mastercard, Maestro and American Express have signed up to. The scheme enables you to claim a refund from your debit card provider if:

  • A purchase doesn’t arrive or is faulty
  • You buy something for example costing less than £100 where section 75 doesn’t apply using your credit card.

It works by the card company trying to claim your money back from the company you’ve paid, by reversing the transaction. There’s no minimum spend in order to be covered by chargeback, but time limits apply for making a claim – which may be up to 45 and 120 days from making the purchase, depending on the type of card. Chargeback claims can take some time to process because the card company has to get the money refunded before it can pass it onto you.

Fern

fern@giftvouchersolutions.com

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