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Gift cards will have three years to be used

commerce

By Juliano Oliveira

Consumers who get gift cards this Christmas will have a period of three years to spend them.

National changes in force since last November apply to gift cards supplied to customers on or after the first day of that month. Cards and vouchers sold before this date continue to have the same expiry period and applicable fees as at the time of purchase.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said new national gift card laws which took effect in November give consumers three years to spend up.

“Queenslanders love giving gift cards at Christmas and they can now purchase in the knowledge that it comes with a three-year spending window,” Mrs D’Ath said.

According to the ACL (Australian Consumer Law), gift cards must prominently display the expiry date as either the full date or as a period of time. For example: “supply date: March 2020. This card will expire in 3 years”

Ms D’Ath said that stories about consumers having their gift cards rejected, without even getting the chance to spend them, are common. “Now, with the exception of a few limited-use gift cards and vouchers, all gift cards automatically come with a minimum three-year expiry period.”

The three year requirement does not apply to gift cards that are:

  • able to be reloaded or topped up
  • for a good or service available for a limited time where the card or voucher expires at the end of that period (e.g. entry to a concert or museum exhibition)
  • supplied to a purchaser of goods or services as part of a temporary marketing promotion (e.g. a wine voucher valid for one month that is mailed to a consumer as a free bonus with a purchased item and was not part of the purchase offer)
  • donated free of charge for promotional purposes (e.g. a local shopping centre has a one-day marketing promotion where each visitor to the centre on that day is handed a $20 gift card that is valid for use at any store in the centre for that day only)
  • sold for a particular good or service at a genuine discount (e.g. $50 card for salon service valued at $100)
  • supplied as part of an employee rewards program
  • given as a bonus in connection with a purchase of a good or service for use in the same business (customer loyalty programs)
  • second-hand gift cards
  • part of a temporary marketing promotion (e.g. customers buy a certain product from Business A, which provides a $50 voucher to use at Business B).

“This will help to protect consumers from losing an estimated $70 million on gift cards each year. Gift cards are big money in Australia, both for their convenience and flexibility, ” Ms D’Ath said.

“These new laws will help prevent millions of dollars in losses and make gift cards fairer for consumers.”

A breach of the laws could attract a $30,000 fine in the case of a body corporate, or $6,000 for individuals.

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