Gift cards in NSW are about to change

Mia Steiber 11 October 2017 NEWS

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Before you start your Christmas shopping, here's what you need to know about the latest proposed laws around gift card expiry.

Have you ever looked at the little expiry date on the back of a gift card and been slightly unsettled that there was a time limit to when you could spend it? Apparently the feeling is mutual.

It was recently announced that NSW is introducing legislation that would make sure that gift card expiry dates are at least three years from the purchase date. Which is great news for anyone that loves to buy gift cards as presents. Christmas giving could become that little bit easier knowing that the present you paid for won't expire after only a year.

Concerns were raised that a 12-month expiry was too short and customers are being short changed. Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean, said, “When consumers hand over their hard-earned money, they rightly expect to get what they pay for. I’m fed up of business taking money from shoppers and providing nothing in return, which is why I’m putting consumers first and making sure they get a fair deal.”

The proposed legislation for NSW would see post-purchase fees and charges eliminated and all gift cards to expire no more than three years after the purchase date.

There are 34 million gift cards sold in Australia every year and Kean said that up to 8% of card owners aren't using the full balance of their cards. In fact, recent research conducted by analysts suggests the figure to be more like 14%. The research estimated that $70 million was wasted each year in unused gift card funds.

Kean explained that the current proposed legislation only applies to gift cards purchased in NSW that are capable of being redeemed in NSW stating "that's a more than fair approach."

Kean said, “We have also taken feedback on board from retailers regarding interstate transactions, and the legislation will make it easy for businesses to ensure that they comply.”

At this stage, the legislation has not yet been introduced although the ABC has reported that the laws could be instated as early as this week. Stay tuned for more updates on how this will affect the purchase of gift cards this Christmas.

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