Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean had a welcome message to spread during a visit to Westfield Miranda.
Accompanied by Miranda MP Eleni Petinos, Mr Kean spoke to shoppers about the state government’s move to extend the life of gift cards to three years.
However, the law change won’t apply this Christmas.
Mr Kean said gift cards sold in NSW from March 31 next year would have a three-year expiry date.
Carolyn Cash, from Caringbah, welcomed the change.
Ms Cash said gift cards were “great gifts, but it’s no fun to find they are past their use-by date”.
“Time goes so fast it’s not always easy to use them [before they expire],” she said.
Mr Kean said the move would put up to $60 million a year back in the hands of NSW shoppers.
“These Australian-first reforms will give consumers confidence that when they buy gift cards for friends or relatives, they’re getting value for money,” he said.
“It’s a very frustrating experience to present a gift card only to find it’s expired, and the money has gone down the drain.
“Most gift cards now come with a 12-month expiry period but all cards sold in NSW from March 31 will allow consumers three years to cash in – and that’s a big win.”
Mr Kean said the Australian gift card market was worth up to $2.5 billion per annum, with about 34 million gift cards sold nationally each year.
“Over the past five years NSW Fair Trading has had more than 1300 complaints about gift cards about expiry periods and undisclosed terms and conditions,” he said.
“This is all about putting consumers first and I call on businesses to put their customers first by extending expiry dates across the country.
Consumer group Choice, which had campaigned for change for many years, was delighted when the government announced in October it would take action.
"These reforms have been a long time coming and are a big win for NSW consumers," says Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey.
"Unfortunately unfair expiry dates on gift cards cost consumers a small fortune each year.”
Choice had advocated a five-years expiry period, and for people to be able to cash out remaining small balances – a requirement which is mandated in some states in the US.
Mr Godfrey said three years was a a reasonable expiry period for business to comply with, although it was still worth shopping around for cards without any time restriction.
"These cards are a gift horse for retailers who can take advantage of inflation, changes in value and low redemption rates,” he said
“The least these companies can do is offer a product that's fair, including a minimum expiry with no sneaky fees.”
Mr Godfrey said they would like to see the changes rolled out across Australia.