Loblaws rebate making consumers skeptical, professor says

A Western University professor says Loblaws' “outrageous and egregious” behaviour by Loblaws is causing an understandable degree of skepticism.

Loblaws is offering a $25 rebate for fixing bread prices between 2002 and 2015


A London woman is raising privacy concerns about the personal information she was forced to share in order to claim a $25 gift card from Loblaws.

Michelle Deveber followed typical online protocol this week to sign up for the gift card, which is being offered to customers angered by the company's admission that it had inflated the price of bread between 2002 and 2015.

She was shocked when she read the fine print of the privacy policy, which stated her information could be stored in databases of third-party providers in the United States or El Salvador.

"[I] didn't realize that [my] personal information was going to be shared with other sources," she told CBC News.

"I'm not going to do it. I'm not satisfied that the information that I was given on the internet and through the phone is satisfactory for the safety of my own personal information," added Deveber, who called the company multiple times to get clarification. 

Western University law and media professor Sam Trosow says privacy isn't a particular concern in this case, but the company's "outrageous and egregious" behaviour has resulted in an understandable degree of skepticism.

Several products carried by Loblaw saw price hikes in the past, including Ben's Bread, County Harvest Bread and No Name Bread.

Screen shot of Loblaws $25 gift card registration (David Donnelly/CBC)

Privacy, not a worry

CBC News contacted Loblaw representatives on Monday. The company responded but did not provide a spokesperson to be interviewed.

The sign-up page on the website offers an extensive review of its privacy policy related to the gift card. 

The information -- which includes a customer's name, date of birth and mailing address -- will be shared with third-party collectors. Blackhawk Network will distribute the cards and track their activation. Peoples Trust Company will act as the card issuer.

Trosow said there's nothing unusual about the privacy policy, but said the price-fixing debacle has subjected Loblaw to more intense scrutiny. 

"People are focusing on this one a little bit more because the corporate conduct here was so outrageous and egregious, and it's something that has affected a lot of people," he said.

"There's something very sensitive about this under the surface right now … People are angry at Loblaw's. People are very, very angry at what they did."

Paying attention

Although collecting data for some companies may seem beneficial, Loblaw said it will not use personal data for marketing purposes, unless customers give their consent.

Despite this,Trosow hopes concerns about the privacy policy will encourage more people to read the fine print.

"You have to look at all the other things you sign up for," he said.

Deveber, meanwhile, remains adamant about her decision to pass up on the offer. And she hopes other Canadians will also reconsider.

"I'm just thinking of the average Canadian who is just going ahead and filling these things out without any thought of possible repercussions for their personal information."