As the March 31 implementation date nears for a minimum three-year validity on all gift cards sold to consumers in NSW, the State Government has agreed to give retailers a six-month transition period in which you can further run-down your existing stocks.
The NSW Office of Fair Trading will allow retailers over the transition period to still issue non-compliant gift cards and card packaging labelled with shorter expiry dates, so long as action is taken to inform consumers about the new laws.
However, it’s important for retailers to understand that all cards sold after March 31, regardless of the compliance of their packaging, must be honoured for up to three years from their sale date.
At the end of this transitional period, retailers won’t be able to issue non-compliant cards sold in NSW, and will need to take any leftover stocks out of the state’s retail offering (while independent stores will most likely need to destroy their cards, retail chains, however, may be able to simply ship their leftover stocks to other states or territories. Otherwise, they may be used for exempt purpose such as gifts with loyalty programs).
The Office of Fair Trading has also confirmed that the new legislation will apply to single load Eftpos, Visa and Mastercard gift cards sold to consumers in NSW.
As I’ve noted before, we have not been supportive of the NSW Government’s reforms to gift card legislation, however we do understand the Department’s motivation in terms of protecting consumers and helping them to maximise their use of the cards.
We want to commend the Government again, on its willingness to work with us and other retailers, and with representatives of companies that supply stored value cards across Australia, to push back the original plan, and delay implementing the new rules before Christmas.
We also want to commend the Department for taking on board feedback from us and other industry members about the costs associated with dumping existing stocks of cards with one-year or two-year expiry dates printed on them. Being able to secure the initial delay, as well as an additional six-month transition period, has meant a far less costly transition to the new rules.
While these reforms are currently limited to NSW, they will have ramifications for larger retail chains that operate across state borders. As I’ve said before, we do expect the NSW reforms will lead the way to become the national standard, so we must ensure we get these decisions right, from the outset.
We are grateful the NSW Government has been so willing to work with us to ensure as smooth a transition for you as possible, and we will continue to represent your interests in other states and territories as this issue plays out.
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.