Consumers Council of Canada

Consumers Council of Canada

December 15, 2006 13:21 ET

Gift card warning from the Consumers Council of Canada

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Lifestyle Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA ADVISORY--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 15, 2006) - The Consumers Council of Canada advises consumers to make sure they understand all the conditions that apply to any gift cards they buy during this holiday season. Such gift cards, which can be used like cash to buy merchandise, have become the gift of choice for many people; however, many of the cards carry limitations that can make them less attractive as gifts.

Many gift cards come with a time limit after which they expire and become worthless. Any money still on the card is not refunded. The Consumers Council commends the Ontario government for taking action to protect consumers in Ontario by banning expiry dates on gift cards. However, the amendments to the Consumer Protection Act currently before the provincial legislature will not be passed in time to apply to gift cards purchased this holiday season.

Until the new rules are in place, the Consumers Council of Canada recommends that consumers who purchase gift cards ask when they will expire, record purchase dates, retain receipts, and tell the people to whom they give gift cards when they will expire.

Other limitations include geographic boundaries. A card purchased at an A&P or Dominion store in Ontario can only be used in Ontario. Other retailers charge activation fees which are deducted from the value of the card. However, not all businesses do so and the Consumers Council commends merchants like Starbucks whose cards state that they have no time limits or fees.

The gift card business has exploded in popularity over the past few years and has become increasingly complex. For example, while there is no time limit on Canadian Tire money, there is a two-year time limit on Canadian Tire gift cards. To avoid confusion, the Council recommends that consumers read the small print on the back of gift cards before purchasing them and remember that if they don't like the conditions, they can always give money. /For further information: Ms. Eleanor Friedland
Consumers Council of Canada
35 Madison Avenue, Suite 100
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2S2
Tel: 416-961-3487
Fax: 416-975-8819

Contact Information

  • Ms. Eleanor Friedland, Vice-President
    Primary Phone: 416-961-3487