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    What You Didn’t Know About Gift Cards
    Posted: 2012-06-26 05:00:04

    Thinking of buying a gift card for you friend’s birthday or for your cousin on Christmas? It sounds rather simple, until you start thinking about the law behind it.

    Gift cards have been regulated in Canada for a number of years now. Each province has laws that regulate how retailers can sell gift cards to you and how you can use them.

    Here are some interesting and useful facts:

    • Gift cards cannot have expiry dates. Under Ontario¬ís regulations, retailers cannot sell gift cards that have expiry dates. However, this new rule does not apply to gift cards sold for specific goods or services such as a manicure in a spa or a meal at a restaurant, or gift cards sold for promotional purposes.

    • Information about the card must be disclosed. When retailers sell gift cards, they have to disclose the terms and conditions that attach to the card. This information has to be disclosed clearly in writing.

    • Retailers cannot charge you extra fees. Retailers cannot charge you fees that diminish the value of the card over time. The card should be available for use at any time with its original value.¬† If a retailer charges you fees, it has to give you a refund within 15 days, provided you request it.

    • Loyalty cards are not covered by this law. This law does not apply to loyalty cards that accumulate points. The reason is that these cards do not have a fixed value. Rather they can be used to accumulate new value that you can use to make purchases.

    • There are penalties for breaking the law. If an individual breaks this law, he or she can be fined up to $50,000 and/or receive jail time of up to 2 years. If the offender is a corporation, it can receive a penalty of up to $250,000 in fines.

    For more information, you can refer to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, sections 25.1-25.4. Other provinces may have different regulations, so it’s best to check the local laws to determine where the differences are. However, many of them follow Ontario and include similar rules.

    Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal advice.