Gift card reform – “a GIFT, not an investment”? or “there should be NO expiry EVER”?

Federal Treasury has closed its public consultation on an exposure draft of the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Gift Cards) Bill 2018 and explanatory materials.

Gift cards draw out a range of emotional responses.

The Bill would amend the Australian Consumer Law:

  • mandate minimum three year expiry dates for gift cards;
  • require gift cards to display expiry dates; and
  • ban post-purchase fees on gift cards.

It would also specify penalties for non‑compliance and create a regulation-making power.

Included in the explanatory materials is an Explanatory Memorandum for the Bill and a consultation paper which provides additional information on how the new regulation making power would operate, including clarifying the definition of a gift card, specifying exemptions and defining allowable post-purchase fees.

Treasury refers to the new law in NSW which has a 3 year limit – the Fair Trading Amendment (Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards) Act 2017. It commenced on 31 March 2018.

A similar law is proposed in South Australia.

Comments on the SA changes have drawn polarised responses – one person saying they

“cannot understand why a recipient would need more than three years to use a gift card. A gift card is a GIFT, not an investment”;

another saying there

“there should be NO expiry EVER. Who ever heard of taking someone’s money and then not delivering the product/service because “Ah-ah-ah! You took too long.” Outrageous”.

New Zealand is also examining the law of gift cards, but it is looking to establish a new preferential claim basis for gift cards and vouchers under its insolvency laws.

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