Have you been given a Gift Card for Christmas with a 6 or even 3 month expiry date?? Isn’t it frustrating when you finally get around to using it, that you realise it’s no longer valid!
New changes have just been introduced into the Fair Trading Act legislation to now provide that Gift Cards have a mandatory minimum period of 3 years. So, if you’re not feeling up to that massage, or there’s no good movies out to go and see, you have 3 years in which to enjoy the use of your gift card and actually put to use the thoughtful gift that some relative or friend thought was a great idea at the time (or just couldn’t be bothered to actually find the perfect gift for you)…. in any case, it’s a win for consumers.
As a Lawyer in Picton, and with only fairly recent legislative amendments to allow certain advertising in the legal field, I haven’t really considered the impact gift cards might have on small businesses. A Lawyer is not likely to advertise gift cards for legal work, or Solicitors fees, but many small businesses that offer gift cards for massages, beauty services, or even products, could find themselves providing services 3 years after the payment has been made. What impact could this have on small businesses?
As a Lawyer specialising in Estate Planning and contesting wills, we have donated gift certificates in the past for charitable purposes for the drafting of a free will. Could this then be claimed three years later? No. The government has included some exceptions to the minimum 3 year rule, such as donations to a fundraising appeal, and cards supplied as part of a loyalty rewards program. It will be interesting to see how the use of gift cards change over the next few years in response to these legislative changes.
The potential consequences of this change on small businesses has yet to be tested, but consumers can certainly feel better about buying gift cards knowing they have three years in which to use them.
Check out the link below for the Department of Fair Trading which provides commencement dates and full details:
This is a blog only and not meant to be taken as legal advice in any way.