McGuinty Government Celebrates The Holidays With Ban On Gift Card Expiry Dates



    Consumers Can Call Gift Card Hotline With Questions And Complaints

    QUEEN'S PARK, Dec. 6 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is making a list and
checking it twice to assure consumers that Ontario retailers are complying
with the province's ban on gift card expiry dates, Government and Consumer
Services Minister Ted McMeekin said today.
    "Gift cards are becoming increasingly popular during the holidays,
especially as stocking stuffers," said McMeekin. "And we want Ontario
consumers to know that gift cards are worth the money they paid for them,
regardless of when those cards are used."
    The Ontario government's ban on gift card expiry dates - the first of its
kind in Canada - came into effect on October 1, 2007. To further ensure that
consumers get what they pay for, the new rules prohibit fees or deductions
from a card's value, often charged for "inactivity", which is another way of
expiring a gift card.
    "These new regulations strike a good balance between responding to the
concerns of consumers and taking into consideration the legitimate needs of
retailers," said Retail Council of Canada President and CEO Diane J.
Briseboise. "We are pleased to work with the government to support compliance
in the retail sector, and to work towards an even playing field for all gift
card issuers."
    "People who receive gift cards no longer need to rush into a purchase
just to get full value from their card," said Consumers Council of Canada
Vice-President Eleanor Friedland. "Ontario continues to set an example for
other provinces to follow when it comes to consumer protection initiatives
like this."
    Ontario consumers who have questions, complaints or comments regarding
the ban are encouraged to call the provinces toll free consumer hotline at
1-800-889-9768, or in Toronto at 416-326-8800.

    
                           Disponible en français

                              www.mgs.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                       Banning Gift Card Expiry Dates

    On October 1, 2007, amendments to the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 and
Ontario Regulation 17/05 that relate to the sale of gift cards came into
effect. The new regulations apply only to gift cards bought on or after
October 1, 2007. Across Ontario many retailers voluntarily eliminated expiry
dates and fees on existing cards.
    The amendments establish rules to protect consumers in Ontario who
purchase or receive gift cards or gift certificates from stores and malls. The
new consumer protection measures now being implemented include:

    1.  Prohibiting expiry dates on gift cards and certificates holding a
        specific dollar amount.
    2.  Restricting fees charged for gift cards to a) customizing a gift
        card, or b) replacing a lost or stolen gift card.
    3.  Requiring the clear and prominent disclosure of any items and
        conditions relating to a gift card (e.g., any limits to redeeming a
        card).
    4.  The rules apply to pre-paid and re-loadable gift cards and gift
        certificates sold by retailers. Gift cards redeemable at more than
        one unaffiliated store (e.g., shopping mall cards) must follow the
        rules relating to expiry dates and disclosures, but are temporarily
        exempt from the rules on fees while the ministry examines options to
        regulate these types of cards.
    5.  Gift cards for specific goods and services, such as a massage or
        manicure or dinner for two, are exempt from the law even if a dollar
        amount is specified on the card.

    Most major Canadian retailers sell gift cards to their customers. Gift
cards and other stored-value cards are one of the fastest-growing products in
the marketplace today.
    Ontario is the first Canadian jurisdiction to move to regulate gift cards.
The restriction on fees will not apply to mall cards. This will allow more
time to develop a workable solution with industry stakeholders that will
ensure an informed decision that will best reflect the interests of consumers
and business.

                         Retail Compliance in Ontario

    Businesses in Ontario must make every effort to accurately notify
consumers about the terms affecting gift cards, including prominent disclosure
explaining expiry dates are not applicable to gift cards holding a specific
dollar amount if they are purchased on or after October 1, 2007.
    To date, compliance by retailers has been very good. The Ministry has
undertaken several spot checks and has uncovered only 8 cases of
non-compliance out of approximately 28 retailers spot-checked. The majority of
non-compliance is point of purchase/sale disclosures where the retailer is
using up existing gift card stock.
    The Ministry has written to these few retailers about non-compliant cards,
and has received responses indicating that they are moving quickly to comply -
we will of course follow up on these cases. The Ministry will continue to work
with retail partners and continue its enforcement activities over the holiday
period.

                           Disponible en français
                              www.mgs.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Greg Dennis, Minister's Office,
Office: (416) 327-3072, Cell: (647) 281-4403; Ciaran Ganley, Communications
Branch, (416) 325-8659

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