Published on Sep 10, 2018
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There are fresh laws in place as of 2018 introducing new requirements for businesses who offer and accept gift cards.
The NSW Government has introduced a mandatory minimum expiry period of three years for all gift cards and gift vouchers sold to consumers in NSW, per an amendment to the Fair Trading Act 1987. These amendments were introduced back in March 2018.
The changes allow consumers to access to the full value of their gift card over what is considered a reasonable period, and it maintains a practicable business model for businesses who offer and accept gift cards.
While the law now stands that a gift card or voucher must remain valid for a minimum of three years, businesses can choose to apply a longer expiry period.
The reforms do not apply to gift cards and vouchers purchased by consumers before 31 March 2018.
Do the reforms apply to my business?
All gift cards or vouchers sold in store or online to a consumer who is in NSW at the time of sale or sold to a consumer who provides a NSW address in connection with the sale are covered by law.
There is a transition period from 31 March to 30 September 2018 where businesses can physically amend gift cards at point of sale, update their terms and conditions, and put signage out to inform customers of sale. During this period, businesses should still ensure that the cards or vouchers carry an expiry period of at least 3 years.
On top of the changes to gift card expiry dates, there is also now a ban on post-purchase administration fees.
Post-purchase fees that will be banned include; activation fees, account keeping fees, balance enquiry fees, telephone enquiry fees and fees applied when a card is inactive or not being used (sometimes called dormancy or inactivity fees).
What is excluded?
- gift card or voucher that is given by a business to a consumer for free
- gift card or voucher exchanged for goods returned to the supplier of the goods
- prepaid cards for phone credit or internet access
- ATM cards, debit cards, credit cards or charge cards
- gift cards supplied as part of a customer loyalty or employee rewards program
- gift card or voucher supplied as part of a temporary marketing promotion as a bonus to the purchase of a good or service
- gift card or voucher sold for a particular good or service that is below the market value of the good or service (a genuine discount)
- gift card or voucher sold or donated for use in a fundraising appeal, including to a charity or not for profit organisation
- reloadable card that uses EFTPOS, Visa or Mastercard or a similar electronic payment system
- gift card or voucher for goods or services available for a limited time where the card or voucher expires at the end of that period (for example, entry to a concert or museum exhibition, or a pair of shoes that is only available for a limited time).
Visit NSW Fair Trading for useful resources on how to handle the sale of gift cards and vouchers under the new laws.
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