24 October 2018

New rules to lessen gift card rage with extended expiry dates

| Ian Bushnell
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Wrap that in a bow: new gift card rules will mean less pain for consumers.

Discovered that gift card you forgot about and rushed off to the shops to turn it into the present you really wanted, only to find the bit of plastic had expired?

That disappointment, and anger, will be lessened soon when ACT consumers will have more time to use that often double-edged gift card sitting in the wallet or stuffed in a drawer for safe keeping as part of reforms to Australian Consumer Law.

ACT Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury says Canberrans will benefit from new requirements that gift cards have a three-year minimum expiry date and for expiry dates to be prominently displayed.

Together with other state and territory consumer ministers, Mr Rattenbury recently agreed to implement a national scheme for the regulation of gift cards, following NSW’s lead.

Mr Rattenbury said consumers had lost an estimated $70 million a year through gift cards expiring before they were used.

“There’s no reason why a gift card should expire after a short time. It’s been paid for. Consumers have been ripped off by gift cards expiring early. This is a good improvement to protect ACT consumers,” he said.

Mr Rattenbury said Access Canberra had received about 100 general complaints or enquiries about gift cards over the past five years.

“These new gift card rules will provide that extra confidence, and that extra time, to ensure that good gifts don’t go to waste,” he said.

But don’t expect the changes this Christmas as they won’t come into effect until 1 November 2019.

Some commentators believe gift cards should not have any expiry dates at all, and Woolworths scrapped expiry dates on its gift cards earlier this year.

In 2016, industry bodies estimated that around 34 million gift cards were sold in Australia each year.

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