What is coupon expiration date law?
Every week you clip coupons and check the expiration date before using any.
And just about every week, you have to shake your head in confusion.
You can’t seem to figure out how and when they set expiration dates and what strange rules are put in place to protect you.
This situation is more complicated than you might think due to the regulations on coupon expiration law.
Trying to understand this process requires an understanding of the importance of disclaimers and how gift cards differ from coupons with their expiration laws.
Though these deals and loyalty plans may seem more or less the same to many individuals, they each use somewhat different laws to dictate their proper use in the market place.
All Coupons Need Disclaimers
When you use a coupon, you need to check the language and the disclaimers to ensure that everything is proper and correct.
Federal and state coupon laws dictate that all coupons must have very obvious and easy-to-understand disclaimers that provide a guide for those interested in these deals.
Tickets that fail to possess these items may not be legal to use or could cause other problems.
For example, the expiration date must be printed on the coupon in large letters that aren’t hidden.
The expiration date must also be followed strictly by the company who writes the coupon.
Anybody who denies a coupon before its expiration date must have a reason that is not connected to the expiration date.
Federal and state law is lax on these reasons, however.
For instance, a manager may simply not like you and refuse to accept your coupons for no more reason than that.
They don’t have to explain why they denied your coupons or justify themselves in any way.
This situation is very frustrating if it happens to you, but there isn’t much that you can do about it.
Try to talk to the manager to figure out what is going on, and you might be able to sort out the confusion.
Laws like these are somewhat lax because coupons are offered for free and at a personal cost by the manufacturer or retailer.
Unlike other types of loyalty or reward programs, coupons cost the consumer nothing and take money away from the manufacturer or retailer.
And while they are effective at getting business for a company, they ultimate do cost money to the company who offers these deals.
As a result, federal and state law often lets stores and manufacturers do what they like with their coupons.
That said, the law will step in and try to enforce the policy if the situation is not appropriate.
For example, a store that tries to deny coupon use to somebody based on their gender, race, or creed is breaking the law and may get in serious trouble for discrimination for this refusal.
However, the manager or cashier who denies the coupon may claim that race, gender, or creed had nothing to do with the coupon refusal.
In this situation, the person who was denied coupon use must prove that they were discriminated against, such as evidence of offensive language or a pattern of hateful behavior from the store or the individual who denied the coupon use.
As a result, the laws that regulate coupon expiration can be hard to understand, tricky to enforce, and variable based on interpretation by various types of legal professionals.
Thankfully, though, gift certificates are nowhere near as flexible in their use.
The federal government and most states have pretty strict regulations on how these certificates expire.
Gift Cards Expire in Different Ways
The unique nature of gift cards and gift certificates means that they expire differently than coupons.
While coupons expire after a few weeks or months and the date is up to the provider’s discretion, all gift cards and certificates cannot expire for five years after printing.
This time limit isn’t just a suggestion but federal law.
This law, passed in 2009 as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, took inspiration from a variety of different state laws and helped to make national regulations that come with swift and harsh fines.
For example, the expiration date of gift cards is set at a hard five years, though they may last longer.
The reasons for these laws are simple: gift cards are considered property provisions and a binding agreement between the buyer and the store that provided the gift card.
If a person pays money for a gift card or is part of a loyalty program in which a gift card is given out after an investment or a set of purchases, the card is considered an investment by the buyer.
As a result, the provider cannot let this card expire too soon, though the five-year limit was put into place to safeguard the manufacturers as well.