Commissioner's blog: Gift card rules reminder
With the busy shopping season upon us, there’s no doubt that gift cards or vouchers can be an easy present idea for those hard-to-please friends and family members.
While we believe that gifting cash is ultimately a safer option, if you are planning to buy a gift card this festive season, don’t forget that the national rules have changed to give the recipient at least three years to use it.
The minimum three-year expiry date means that any gift card sold after the laws took effect on 1 November 2019 would currently still be valid for redemption, and those bought for Christmas 2021 should be valid until Christmas 2024.
How expiry dates are displayed on gift cards is also important, with traders required to clearly state the expiry date on the gift cards themselves. This means you can easily see and challenge the date if they get it wrong and also that the recipient of your gift won’t be caught out not knowing when it will expire.
You also cannot be charged post-purchase fees or administration charges that will reduce the value of your gift card, such as activation, account keeping and balance enquiry fees.
While the rules give consumers more certainty, it is important to remember that there is still an element of risk attached to buying gift cards and vouchers.
A caller to one of our regular radio segments claims she was left out of pocket after buying a $400 gift voucher to a restaurant that had closed down when the recipient tried to redeem it less than a year later.
Unspent gift vouchers or cards may become worthless if a business goes bust or closes its doors, so for this reason we recommend giving cash instead.
More information on the rules, including a list of questions to ask when buying gift cards and vouchers, can be found on our website.
If you have a dispute with a business about a gift card or voucher that can’t be resolved, come to Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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