Gift card reforms arrive in time for Christmas

Gift card reforms arrive in time for Christmas

Christmas shopping can be a stressful and hard task for some. With many Australians purchasing gift cards or vouchers as a Christmas present, consumers often find themselves spending money on unnecessary costs associated with gift cards as well as only having a short period to use the gift card or voucher.

Recent amendments to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) have provided extra protection to consumers who acquire gift cards that have been purchased on or after 1 November 2019. The changes should minimise several issues that Australians may have faced in the past when transacting with gift cards.

This was highlighted by The Treasury in 2018 when it was reported that Australians lose over $70 million annually as a result of expired gift cards, generally due to the consumer simply being unaware of the expiration date on the card or the business not providing a date to begin with.

Firstly, most vouchers or gift cards now have a three-year minimum expiration date, giving you plenty of time to spend any gift cards you may receive for Christmas this year.  Also, the expiration date must be clearly displayed on the card to avoid any ambiguities.

In addition to this, the changes to the ACL provide a ban on most post-purchase fees associated with gift cards and vouchers. This includes fees relating to activation of the card, account keeping and balance enquiry. Although, a number of fees are still permissible including costs associated with processing payment.

For any gift cards or vouchers purchased before 1 November 2019, the expiry date will stay the same as specified on the card.  Have a few gift cards hidden in your wallet?  This might be a good time to spend the gift cards or vouchers you were given last Christmas before they expire.

We strongly recommend that consumers familiarise themselves with the reforms prior to purchasing gift cards this Christmas.

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DISCLAIMER: We accept no responsibility for any action taken after reading this article. It is intended as a guide only and is not a substitute for the expert legal advice you can get from marshalls+dent+wilmoth and other relevant experts.