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]