Montreal

Should loyalty card points ever expire? CAQ private member's bill would make it illegal

In the wake of the consumer uproar that forced Air Miles to nix its expiry policy, CAQ MNA Simon Jolin-Barrette plans to table a bill on Tuesday making it illegal in Quebec for loyalty reward points to expire.

After uproar forces Air Miles to nix expiry plan, MNA Simon Jolin-Barrette says consumers need protection

Canadians have more than 129 million subscriptions to different loyalty cards. (image source: rootinc)

In the wake of the consumer uproar that forced Air Miles to nix its expiry policy, the Coalition Avenir Québec's justice critic plans to table a bill on Tuesday making it illegal in Quebec for loyalty reward points to expire.

"We want to assure the protection of the consumer," Simon Jolin-Barrette, the MNA for Borduas told CBC in an exclusive interview.

Canadians have more than 129 million subscriptions to reward programs. In exchange for personal information about shopping habits, collectors receive points that can be redeemed for travel and other items.

Coalition Avenir Québec justice critic Simon Jolin-Barrette will table a bill on Tuesday that would make it illegal for loyalty rewards points to expire. (Bernard Gagnon/CBC)

After last year's outcry over expiring miles — and the inability of collectors to redeem miles for the rewards they wanted, Air Miles owner LoyaltyOne caved to pressure, nixing the policy that would have seen miles collected prior to 2012 expire on Jan. 1, 2017.

However, many other loyalty cards continue to apply such a policy.

Consumers group says points should never expire

Yannick Labelle, a lawyer and consumer protection analyst with the Union des Consommateurs, said Jolin-Barrette's bill is a step in the right direction.

"Most people have quite a few cards in their wallet and, unfortunately, they don't always know the different implications of having such cards," she said.

Labelle said people need to know what their rights are under each loyalty program and what the benefits are for each of their cards.

Yannick Labelle, a consumer protection analyst with the Union des Consommateurs, said her organization gets many complaints about expired loyalty-card points and arbitrary rule changes. (CBC)

Complaints about certain reward programs are nothing new to her consumer advocacy organization, she said.

"We hear often that there are issues with the expiry dates and the unilateral modifications brought to the programs by the different companies that do manage those programs," she said.

Province looking into the issue

In December, a private member's bill tabled by Ontario Liberal MPP Arthur Potts received royal assent at Queen's Park.

At the end of November, Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée asked the province's consumer protection office to report back to her with recommendations. The office is still working on her request. 

Jolin-Barrette said he hopes his bill will put pressure on the government to act.

"I hope that with that bill that we will be able to work together to make it happen really quickly," he said.

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