10 Nov 2022

Gift card expiries could be extended if new bill becomes law

3:32 pm on 10 November 2022
Illustration of set of gift certificates.

If the Fair Trading (Gift Card Expiry) Amendment Bill became law it would require the Fair Trading Act to be amended (file picture). Photo: 123RF

Gift card expiry dates could be extended to three years, if a bill pulled from the ballot becomes law.

The Fair Trading (Gift Card Expiry) Amendment Bill was pulled from the ballot on Thursday.

The bill, in the name of National MP Melissa Lee, would amend the Fair Trading Act, requiring gift cards to have a minimum expiry date of three years after they are purchased.

Lee said consumers were losing around $10 million a year on expired gift cards.

"Every single person in New Zealand would have experienced this, when they get a gift card from a loved one and they think they're going to save it. Even children get gift cards," she said.

"This is one way to make sure people can redeem their gift cards and they don't lose out."

Lee said she had recently spoken to someone who was given a $100 card on Valentine's Day, only to find out it had a three-month expiry.

"$100 could go a long way in a cost of living crisis," she said.

Lee drafted the bill due to personal experience, and estimates she first put the bill into the ballot in 2018.

"This bill was put in the ballot such a long time ago, I completely didn't think I was going to get it. I have such bad luck getting bills drawn out of the ballot, it was a bit of a surprise this morning," she said.

Member's bills allow any MP who is not on the executive to suggest laws.

The chance they are drawn from the ballot is small, and the chance they become law is smaller still, particularly for bills from opposition MPs.

Lee was not yet sure if she had the support of other parties.

While there were other countries which had no expiry dates on gift cards, Lee picked three years as that was what Australia did.

But she was open for it to be changed in select committee, should the bill get that far.

"I think three years is actually quite fair," she said.

Lee said she would need to take advice on situations where someone could no longer redeem a card from a company that shuts up shop.