Province Taking Another Step To Protect Consumers
Ontario is protecting consumers from losing reward points based only on the amount of time passed since they were earned. Beginning on January 1, 2018, consumers will be protected against losing reward points that they have been saving up for larger purchases, and the change will be retroactive to October 1, 2016.
Consumers who believe their points improperly expired will be able to request that businesses reimburse them, or may file a complaint with Consumer Protection Ontario.
Banning the expiration of reward points is one of a number of changes the province has proposed to increase protection for consumers, including:
- Adding new protections for new home warranties and condo owners
- Strengthening rules and professional standards in the real estate sector
- Increasing transparency in travel services pricing
- Preventing event ticket fraud and excessive markups in ticket re-sales.
Protecting consumers is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- The province examined the terms of over 50 different programs when drafting the regulations.
- If a reward points program issues vouchers, they will be considered as gift cards, and will not be allowed to expire.
- If a member does not earn or redeem reward points over a long period of time, some rewards programs close accounts due to prolonged inactivity. This will continue to be permitted if it is stated explicitly in the membership agreement.
- Reward programs dealing only with low-value items of $50 or less will be exempt.
“These are important new ground rules that preserve the points consumers have built up over time. Many people save their points for years to use toward a large purchase. That has real value and should be protected.”
“With so many reward programs out there, it’s important for some basic rules to be in place from one program to the next. This bill was always about basic fairness, and I’m thrilled to see that it’s becoming a reality.”
“Reward point programs have become an important tool for businesses to engage consumers in ways that build trust and loyalty for their brands. The Canadian Marketing Association is pleased to see a balanced framework of rules that will reassure points collectors without creating unnecessary program restrictions in a fast-moving and competitive marketplace.”
“The CAA Rewards program aims to surprise and delight and create additional value for our Members. We are pleased to see some fair and consistent ground rules that focus on the customer experience.”
Teresa Di Felice