Have you ever received a gift card or voucher during Christmas only to discover later that you missed the expiration date? One in seven gift cards bought in Australia go unused every year.
NSW Gift Card Reform
From 31 March 2018, most gift cards and vouchers in NSW must be sold with a minimum expiry period of 3 years to any consumer in NSW. Businesses also cannot apply post- purchase administration, including account-keeping and activation fees to the balance on the card. These requirements appear in the Fair Trading Act 1987. Prior to the NSW gift card reforms, businesses could essentially place any expiration period which could range from anywhere between 3 months to 24 months. In NSW alone, it is estimated that $60 million a year is lost on unredeemed gift cards!
Unfortunately, any cards and vouchers sold prior to 31 March 2018 continue to have the same expiry period and applicable fees as at the time of purchase.
Tom Godfrey, Head of Media at consumer advocacy group, CHOICE, welcomed the reforms:
These reforms have been a long time coming and are a big win for NSW consumers … we hope it signals the beginning of the end of retailers cashing in at our expense.
What can you do if your gift voucher has expired?
Unfortunately, businesses are generally not required to honour gift cards after the expiration date has lapsed. However, there are still some options you can pursue:
- Ask to speak with a Store Manager – as a sign of good faith and to retain your business in the future, managers are often flexible and may allow you to use an expired gift card.
- Speak to the Head Office of the business- you can either do so by sending them an email or phoning their customer care line directly.
- Make a complaint to Consumer Affairs or Fair Trading.
- Contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
- Depending on the nature of your complaint, you may be entitled to take your complaint to the State Tribunal.
Otherwise, if you have explored all the options above and you wish to obtain independent legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP.