By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
President Duterte has signed into law Republic Act No. 10962 prohibiting merchants and businessmen from placing expiration dates on their gift checks.
RA 10962 or “An Act Regulating the Issuance, Use, and Redemption of Gift Checks” signed last Dec. 19 seeks to allow the public to enjoy their money’s worth even more.
In signing the Gift Check Act of 2017, Duterte cited the State’s policy to protect the interest of the consumers, promote the general welfare, and establish standards of conduct for business industry.
“The State, through the Department of Trade and Industry, recognizes that a gift check represents value held in trust by the issuer thereof on behalf of its beneficiary or bearer and that consumers must not be unduly deprived of the value of their money,” RA 10962 said.
Under the law, the issuing of gift checks that bear an expiry date is now deemed unlawful. Imposing an expiry date on the stored value, credit, or balance of the gift check is now also against the law.
The law also prohibits merchants from refusing to honor the unused value, credit, or balance stored in the gift check.
However, gift checks like those under loyalty, rewards, or promotional programs as determined by the DTI are not covered by the law.
Coupons or vouchers are also not covered. Under the Gift Check of 2017, coupons or vouchers are instruments that entitle the holder to a discount or instruments that may be used to exchange for a pre-identified good or service.
Upon effectivity of the law, all gift checks already issued shall be covered by its provisions. The Gift Check Act will take effect 15 days after publication in at least two newspapers of general circulation.
The Gift Check Act of 2017 is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1466 and House Bill No. 6016 which were passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on Oct. 11 and Oct. 10, respectively.
The law also provides merchants instances when they can refuse to honor gift checks. They may refuse to honor a gift check if it is lost due to no fault of the issuer or when the gift check is defaced by not the fault of the issuer and such damage prevents the issuer or merchant from identifying the security and authenticity features of the gift check.
The law also does not prevent any issuer from prescribing reasonable rules for changing, upgrading, or updating the gift check as long as it is approved by the DTI and it does not impose additional cost to the consumer.
Discounts for senior citizens and persons with disabilities shall also apply to purchases of goods and services that are paid for with gift checks.
Holders of unused and unexpired gift checks shall, at no additional cost, be entitled to avail of replacement after revalidation by the issuers.