Agency removes expiry dates from most gift certificates
BEGINNING next month, stores and suppliers of gift certificates and gift checks are no longer allowed to issue such items containing expiry dates.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Cebu Provincial Director Nelia Navarro announced this during yesterday’s Cebu Regional Retail Conference.
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Navarro, who was tasked to give updates on new regulations to retailers, said they will no longer allow suppliers to issue gift certificates containing expiry dates, beyond June 30. Any gift certificate with an expiry date beyond June 30 will be subjected to validation or replacement.
However, she clarified that certificates that were covered by awards or loyalty programs are not covered by the new order.
She explained that retailers can only refuse to honor gift certificates if these are reported lost or if these are severely mutilated, making the supplier unable to verify its authenticity.
Pros and cons
Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Cebu president Jun Yap admitted that the organization has not formally met on the subject.
However, he believes some gift certificates that have no expiration dates can actually be more disadvantageous to the consumer or the retailer.
While he sees no problem of gift certificates carrying cash values as having no expiry dates, he pointed some gift certificates give out specific products. He cited hotels giving out certificates for overnight stays or stores giving out certificates for free phones or other technological devices.
Yap said that room rates and devices have different values a year or six months after a gift certificate is issued.
Still, he believes Cebuano retailers are creative and will always come up with something, despite new regulations.
“We can always find a way to work around it and even improve it,” Yap said.
Navarro also urged retailers to set up consumer welfare desks in their outlets to address complaints of their customers.
She said this allows the retailer to address complaints at their own level, without the complainant having to bring it to the attention of the DTI.
Navarro said this also helps protect the retailer from “abusive consumers” who take their complaints to social media, damaging a retailer’s reputation.
Yap said that while not many retailers have set up their own consumer welfare desks, PRA-Cebu will “aggressively” join the campaign to encourage their members to do this.
He assured that customers’ welfare is always a priority for them, saying putting up a dedicated desk would bring value to them in the long-term because it would enhance their image as those who care about their customers’ welfare.
Yap assured that the DTI not only considers the plight of consumers but those of retailers as well.
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