Most major retailers, and many minor ones, nowadays offer gift cards.
Most major retailers, and many minor ones, nowadays offer gift cards.

End to shops getting our money for nothing

BUSINESSES will be forced to make gift cards valid for at least three years under new Federal Government laws to help stop consumers being dudded of tens of millions of dollars a year.

Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert will today introduce legislation in Parliament to create a national regime for the regulation of gift cards, which cost gift givers about $2 billion a year.

The new national laws will extend the validity of gift cards from one year to three, but the legislation will not come into force until November next year.

Recent research from exposed the true waste of gift cards, revealing almost $150 million went unused each year.

About one in seven cards were not redeemed in 2017, with almost two million people forgetting they could redeem their gift.

Queenslanders were the worst, wasting about $50 million.

Mr Robert told News Queensland the Treasury Laws Amendment (Gift Cards) Bill was a win for consumers.

"Currently there is no nationally consistent regulation for minimum expiry periods and post-purchase fees on gift cards,'' Mr Robert said.


Assistant Treasurer and Member for Fadden Stuart Robert
Assistant Treasurer and Member for Fadden Stuart Robert


"(The new laws will require) expiry information to be disclosed and bans the charging of most post-supply fees to provide consumers with greater confidence and make gift cards fairer for all consumers."

He said inconsistencies between the laws in states and territories had also created a regulatory burden on businesses.

NSW and South Australia have introduced or announced legislation while in other states and territories gift cards remain unregulated.

It means different rules apply for consumers and businesses across state boundaries.

He said providing a 12-month transitional period for business would allow time to run down existing stocks of gift cards and update systems.

"The commencement date also ensures that these important protections for consumers are in place for the 2019 Christmas period."

The Australian Retailers Association has previously revealed 71 per cent of gift cards were bought for birthday presents and 16 per cent for gifts during the festive season.

Consumer group CHOICE said there were $2.5 billion worth of gift cards bought in 2016.