North Ayrshire & Arran MP and SNP Consumers Affairs spokesperson Patricia Gibson has renewed her calls on the UK Government to protect shoppers from losing out on millions of pounds of gift card cash.
The UK Gift Card and Voucher Association estimates the UK gift card market to be worth around £6,000 million a year, with around £300 million going unspent. The minimum period and policies for gift cards vary across retailers, and some have very short or hidden expiry periods with no indication on the card of when this arbitrary date may be. As a result, many people end up losing their money because the card has expired and the retailers effectively get money for nothing.
Mrs Gibson has repeatedly urged the UK Government to introduce greater protections for consumers, and has now written to the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Kelly Tolhurst MP, calling for the introduction of a minimum five-year expiry period on all gift cards sold in the UK.
Commenting, Patricia Gibson MP said:
“More transparency around expiry dates on gift cards is essential. Expiry dates vary and are unclear, which leaves consumers out of pocket with unspent vouchers being clawed back as profit by retailers.
“It is important that at the very least a minimum across the board five-year expiry date is introduced to protect consumers.
“America already has a blanket minimum five-year expiry date for gift cards enshrined in federal law, with Ireland set to follow suit. The EU is also set to act on this issue which means post-Brexit, consumers in the UK will enjoy less protection than their European counterparts unless the UK Government urgently acts to regulate this industry.
“If the UK Government fails to act, we will see a divergence in consumer protection between the UK and EU citizens which the UK Government has assured us would not occur.
“The gift card industry is a £6,000 million industry with £300 million of gift cards unspent each year; money parted with which ultimately buys nothing. The regulation of expiry dates is now essential.”