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Reasons not to buy vouchers – Updated

Before Christmas last year, I wrote an article that got a lot of attention called “5 Reasons not to give Vouchers this Christmas“. That post was subsequently updated to become 6 reasons after a PriceWatch reader highlighted a new issue discovered with vouchers in January.

Based on a few e-mails I’ve received since the original article with problems discovered by ValueIreland.com readers, this listing is now updated again below:

  • It is always be a nicer touch to put a bit of thought into a present for someone rather than the somewhat lazy voucher option.
  • Some generic voucher schemes might not be redeemable in as many stores as you expect, or as many stores as the recipient might actually want. There’s nothing worse than getting a voucher for somewhere you’ve no interest in buying something.
  • Certain vouchers that you might think are a good idea (such as Ryanair for example) are reputed to be very difficult to actually cash in – and in some cases have cost more to use than the value of the gift itself.
  • Some vouchers have an expiry date which makes them useless once passed. While it’s not your fault as the “giver”, it could mean that the receiver is under pressure to use the vouchers before they expire. They might end up using them on something they don’t really want that much.
  • Sometimes, if you buy a voucher from a proper shop outlet, it might not be usable in a concession version of the same shop. This was illustrated through the experience of a reader of Pricewatch in the Irish Times. This issue, however, could have been seen in the terms & conditions, if they’d been read beforehand.
  • Depending on where you’re based, or the person you’re buying the voucher for lives, you must remember that in most circumstances, if you buy a voucher for a chain here in Ireland, you won’t actually be able to use that voucher in the same chain in Northern Ireland – or vice versa.
  • The One 4 All SmartPlanner vouchers should definitely be avoided. Despite several questions as to where the company keeps the money paid up by “members” before Christmas, they won’t tell me. That leads me to suspect that the money is held by the company and not in trust for the “members”. Click here to read why this is a problem for consumers.
  • And finally, and most importantly, In the current economic climate, if you buy vouchers from a business that closes down in the new year, the vouchers will most likely be worthless depending on how badly strapped for cash the shop is when it shuts.

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