Can you do something with expired vouchers?
How long are they valid? Who can redeem them? Does the voucher also have to be paid out in cash? Can I still redeem the voucher if the shop becomes insolvent? Here you can find out everything about your rights with vouchers.
- Vouchers are generally valid for three years from the end of the year in which the voucher was issued.
- Attention, the term of vouchers can in individual cases be shorter than three years.
- The sum of a voucher cannot be paid out in cash, but it is possible that someone other than the specific person redeems a voucher.
Do you have a voucher that was issued a long time ago and do not know whether it is still valid? You cannot find anything suitable for your voucher and would rather redeem it later. Or would you like to have a voucher paid out in cash or at least the unused remainder? Perhaps you don't know who is actually allowed to redeem the voucher, just yourself or everyone who has the voucher in their hands? That is the legal position.
How long are vouchers valid?
A voucher is generally valid for three years, because every general civil law claim expires after three years. This is no different with the claim on which a voucher is based (from the sales contract, service contract, etc.). The three years from the end of the year in which the voucher was issued are counted (§§ 195, 199 BGB).
In individual cases, however, the lifespan of a voucher can be shorter, around two years or just one year. However, such a time limit must be justified by the special circumstances of the individual case. For example, a voucher for a service - such as a city tour or a cosmetic treatment - can be limited to one year if wages and other costs will rise in the next year and the value of the service no longer corresponds to the original value of the voucher. If the voucher - as in the example cases mentioned - has been effectively limited in time, you can claim back the amount paid in the period between the end of the redemption period and the statute of limitations (three years after the voucher was issued) - minus compensation for the profit made by the company escaped due to the non-redemption.
However, in our opinion, the possibility of a time limit of less than three years does not apply to vouchers for a certain amount of money. The fact that such vouchers lose value over time is the risk of the voucher holder and does not entitle the issuer to limit the voucher. The Munich Higher Regional Court (Az. 29 U 3193/07) ruled on January 17, 2007 that Amazon vouchers may not be limited to one year.
Vouchers that some companies or department stores give their customers free of charge as part of a promotion, however, can be limited to any duration. Because no one has ever paid anything for it before.
Can vouchers be paid out in cash?
If you cannot find anything suitable for your voucher, you will unfortunately not be able to have the amount paid out in cash: A voucher can only be exchanged for goods or services. It is neither possible to have the equivalent value paid out, nor do you have the right to cash payment of the unused remaining value of the voucher.
This is only different if the voucher relates to a specific product and this is no longer available. Then the fulfillment of the originally concluded (purchase) contract is no longer possible and the shopkeeper who has already received the consideration, i.e. the payment for the goods, has to surrender them again.
Who can redeem a voucher?
Anyone who presents a voucher can redeem it. The voucher is a so-called small bearer paper in accordance with Section 807 of the German Civil Code (BGB) that anyone who holds it is entitled to claim it. Even if a voucher is issued to a specific person, the issuer can make money to anyone else who presents the voucher to him.
Is a voucher still valid in the event of bankruptcy?
As big as the annoyance may be, the legal situation is clear: a voucher may no longer be redeemed in the event of bankruptcy - it is practically worthless.
Anyone who has a voucher has a claim against the issuer of the voucher. After filing for insolvency, the insolvency administrator may no longer satisfy any claims against the company. All claims come into one pot, so to speak, the content of which is distributed to the creditors after the proceedings have been concluded (only that there will hardly be anything in the pot - otherwise the company would not have had to file for bankruptcy.).
- If you want to give away a voucher, check beforehand whether the recipient can do anything with this voucher - it is usually not possible to pay out the amount of money.
- Redeem vouchers promptly! Even if a time limit may not be effective, you should protect yourself against a possible risk of bankruptcy by asserting your claims quickly. Because in the event of the bankruptcy of the voucher issuer, you will not receive any goods and most likely not even your money back.
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