The issue of whether a company can make a refund by giving a gift voucher depends on whether the case involves the rectification of a defect, or a non-defective product:
- If the product has a defect for which the company is liable, the consumer is not obliged to accept a gift voucher as compensation. The seller must provide compensation primarily by repairing the product, or by replacing it with a corresponding product. If this is not possible, the consumer may demand a price reduction or a complete cancellation of the sale.
- If the customer returns a non-defective product to which the seller has not granted a right of return, providing a gift voucher as compensation constitutes good customer service. Thus, the seller has no obligation to take the product back and cancel the sale simply because the consumer changed his or her mind. Only in distance selling and door-to-door sales can the consumer cancel the purchase without giving a particular reason for doing so.
Defects and delays
A gift voucher must be used in accordance with its terms
A gift voucher must be used in accordance with its terms. If the company has not stated any restrictions in the use of a gift voucher, the consumer can assume that there are no specific restrictions regarding issues such as its period of validity.
It is also general practice that the consumer can order goods or reserve a service during the validity period of the gift voucher, since it may be difficult for the consumer to understand the seller's reservation status and when the reservation should be made.
The consumer should always check for any restrictions concerning the gift voucher: how long is it valid, in which stores can it be used and whether it can be used to purchase discount products. Also find out whether the gift voucher must be used at one time, can be split over several transactions or if a cash refund can be claimed for the unused part of the voucher's value.
A bankrupt company has the right not to accept gift vouchers
When a company has been declared bankrupt, it no longer has the right to dispose of the assets that belong to the bankrupt's estate. These assets are managed by a bankruptcy trustee appointed by a court of law. According to the law, a bankrupt's estate has the right not to accept gift vouchers which have been bought prior to the bankruptcy proceedings. However, it is worthwhile for the gift voucher recipient to send the trustee a written notification of his or her receivables in order for them to be taken into account in the distribution of assets of the bankrupt's estate.