Vouchers are still a popular present under the Christmas tree. But givers and recipients of gifts should follow a few rules.
Ein voucher does not last forever. Those who fish such a thing out of some drawer have to experience this again and again. If the voucher has no specified expiry date, a period of three years applies. In many cases, however, it is specified in the case of vouchers by when they must be redeemed.
In principle, dealers are also allowed to do that. However, consumer advocates point out that a deadline that is too short can be ineffective. The Munich Higher Regional Court found that a voucher for a purchase from an internet retailer must not be limited to one year.
The three-year period begins at the end of the year in which the voucher was issued. After this time, the seller no longer has to accept the voucher. However, the customer is entitled to part of the money. The trader is only allowed to withhold his lost profit – how high this is depends on the individual case. There are exceptions to the redemption period for services such as a theater event that is tied to the season.
Value and performance
The voucher must state who issued it and what the amount is. For a certain service, such as a massage, the associated value must be specified. In general, the value of the voucher should match the gift so that the recipient does not have to pay more in the shop.
A voucher is usually like cash: even if it is made out in a name, it can also be redeemed by anyone else. There may be restrictions if the offer is tailored to the recipient and, for example, requires certain health conditions, such as a sporting activity.
Merchants are not obliged to redeem vouchers for cash, because the idea is that there are goods for the voucher. Nor do they have to pay out the remaining amount in cash, according to consumer advice centers, if the customer does not use up the entire voucher amount when making a purchase. Partial redemption could be an alternative. It is generally considered to be reasonable for the dealer.
If the dealer goes bankrupt before redemption, the customer is unlucky. If you buy a voucher, you pay in advance. In the event of bankruptcy, the voucher loses its value. The dealer will only redeem the voucher as long as there are still goods for sale. However, those affected can turn to the insolvency administrator with their claim.
If you give away a self-made voucher, you sometimes have fewer worries: The giver sets the expiry date himself, the amount anyway and the denomination as well.