Gift Card Expiry Dates Law Not Changing In A Hurry

One of the more irritating aspects of gift vouchers in Australia is that you can't use them after the expiry date. It would be good to see that change, but speculation in weekend newspapers that there's an imminent change is overblown.

A weekend report in the Sunday Telegraph suggested that laws could be changed following an investigation by the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council. However, while the council has released an issues paper and invited comments on it, it's not exactly a new development or indicative of an imminent change:

  • The inquiry was actually announced back on December 9.
  • Public submissions to the inquiry are open until March 2.
  • The council will eventually identify (by an unspecified date) whether options used overseas for regulating gift cards, such as eliminating expiry dates or minimum purchase amounts, could be used in Australia. However, that doesn't mean it will suggest using such rules, or that the government of the day will decide to adopt them.

Indeed, the original issues paper notes that one option might be better education and voluntary best-practices legislation:

Policy responses could include non-regulatory options such as an education campaign, the establishment of best practice terms and conditions as well as administration processes which could be voluntarily adopted by gift card issuers.

I'm sure most consumers would welcome change, but we're a long way from seeing the law altered. And until that happens, the buyer beware approach we advised recently remains the reality.

Expiry dates on gift vouchers could be banned under new laws [Sunday Telegraph]


Comments

    If you havent used it after 12 months... There is something wrong :/

      I've had one gift card expire after 4 months!

    @brent3000 maybe you don't really go to that store very much.

    while cleaning up at home I found a coles group gift card the other day that had expired by 12 months ago, I sent them an email and they gave me 30 days to use it. I thought that was nice but I do agree that there shouldn't be an expiry date. I work for a company that has no expiry dates on their gift cards because we shouldn't.

      And from an accounting perspective you create a financial nightmare by not having an expiry date on gift-cards. What could a company's financial liability be if there is no expiry on gift cards. At least by having an expiry date you limit the liability. A legislative compromise could be: ensuring that the cards have a minimum statutory validity period.

        what liability ? the company already has the money. if, by liability, you mean having to provide goods or a service they've already been paid for then too bad. the alternative is legalised theft.

        Ohh those poor accountants, being forced to create an "escrow" account instead of showing it as revenue before it has been claimed.

        Expired gift cards and telco excess charges - it's a gold mine!!

    This year, for christmas, I gave my niece a gift card that never expires, is accepted at all stores throughout the country and with a little work is accepted worldwide.

    It's called cash.

      I hope the view isn't dizzying from your pedestal.

    People should just not give gift cards as presents. I hate getting them (and would prefer cash) because (a) it locks you into a certain store or chain you might not like/use and (b) I can get better deals at places that don't use gift cards. Gift cards are bordering on a scam, especially with this expiry date business. As the poster above wrote - just give cash.

    Giftcards are the lazy-mans present anyway... if you can't be bothered thinking enough about the person to purchase something meaningful and personal.... don't bother...

    I would much rather receive a $10 gift that shows thought, effort, and meaning between me and the person giving it... than a lazy $50 gift card for some place with rip off prices and crappy product range.

    It really IS the thought that counts...

    Having said all that.... surely when purchasing these things... you know the deal going in... it has a use-by-date. It's clearly printed on the cards... at least all the ones I've ever received.... The Gifter and the Giftee can easily see the date information.... it's not like they are "tricking" anyone here.

    (it's grumpy Monday can you tell.... :-)

    If there isn't something special about the deal e.g. spend $40 on the card, use it for $50 credit, then it should be no expiry, just like cash. That still benefits the company by locking you into purchases, and they get the use of your cash for longer.

    Its like saying money expires.

    And, if anything, the longer you take to use the card the better it is for the store. Inflation, less for your money, better for the store.

    If you don't use them within a few months they get filed and lost. I had a work gift card given to me with $150 on it. Forgot all bout it. Lucky Australia post.

    i was given a just4gift card with value of $100 for xmas. which the card actually expires the same month. i called up and apparently they said the card was loaded with money in Oct. So is 2 months expiry on a gift card fair?
    now i have an expired card and i have to gift back to similar value...

    I have recently been in discussions over an expired voucher (not a gift voucher), I handed over $600 for a multi trade voucher to be used at a clothing store. It had a 6month expiry, I went into the store within that period and couldn't find anything I particularly wanted at the time, intending to return at a later date, only by that time, it had expired. I contacted the store and had ' discussions' with the manager, who eventually agreed to honour the voucher if I used it within a 2week period. I agree with most of the above respondants, there should be no expiry date on vouchers, they have the money upfront, it's tantamount to stealing.

    Its a fraud & a rip-off that a Gift Card has an expiry at all - the financial issues should be the overhead of the retailer offering the pre-paid credit, not the consumer. Also, while I'm on my rant, I have just been informed by the Coles support rep (why I'm so ticked off) that a $75 gift card from interstate has been rejected at POS "because the store that sold it must have had an error when they loaded the card- you will need to take it up with them.." what a crock of ##$% - they took $75 and provide $0 in return. What a crap idea these gift cards are !

    government is an active sharer in this loot.How?The money gulped down by these robbers has no matching expense and rather earn interest/increase cash flow over the time until it gulps it down.This adds to bottomline of these monstor,son-in-laws of government and government get tax on that money(if only rthese monsters do not inflate expenese by showing inflated bills through their own companies/friends,relatives.
    After all you are still leaving in a colonised estate

    I suppose we can''t expect retailers to keep our records forever, but it is absolute robbery when a shop can still see on their records what they owe, but won''t honor it. This is what has happened to me at Kemp and Denning in Hobart.

    Don''t shop there.

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