Loblaws $25 gift card program now open, but read the fine print

Loblaw, George Weston under fire for bread price-fixing scheme response. (The Canadian Press)

If you’ve been waiting for your $25 gift card from Loblaws, today’s your lucky day.

Registration is now open for the Loblaw Card Program, which offers Canadians the opportunity to get a $25 gift card by signing up at Loblawcard.ca.

The offer is being made to anyone who was affected by Loblaw’s collusion in a 14-year-long bread price fixing conspiracy. In an effort to make things right with consumers in Canada, Loblaw is offering all consumers who paid more than they should have for bread a $25 gift card. The program is expected to cost the grocery giant up to $150 million.

How to sign up

To sign up with the program, visit Loblawcard.ca and enter your legal name, address, contact phone number and email address. You also need to confirm you are the age of majority in your province, and that you purchased one of the specific brands from one of the specific retailers between Jan. 1, 2002 and Mar. 1, 2015. You can make one card request per person (you’re not limited to one per household).

Cards should arrive in approximately six weeks, although in certain circumstances it may take up to 12 weeks for consumers to receive their gift cards.

When you sign up for your card, save or write down the registration number you are given. If you lose your registration ID, you’ll need to call the program administrator at this toll free number: 1-855-465-8881.

Who qualifies

There is no requirement to upload a receipt to confirm the purchase, but Loblaw does say they have a fraud management team verifying claims, which could delay payout.

Specific brands include:
– Ben’s Bread
– Bon Matin Bread
– Country Harvest Bread
– Dempster’s Bread
– D’Italiano Bread
– Gadoua Bread
– McGavin’s Bread
– No Name Bread
– Old Mill Bread
– POM Bread
– Weston Bread
– Wonder Bread

Bread must have been purchased from one of the following retailers:
– Loblaws
– Atlantic Superstore
– Bloor Street Market
– Cash & Carry
– Club Entrepôt
– Dominion (in Newfoundland & Labrador)
– Extra Foods, Fortinos
– Independent City Market
– Loblaws City Market
– Maxi
– Maxi & Cie
– No Frills
– Presto
– Provigo
– Provigo Le Marché
– Real Canadian Superstore
– Real Canadian Wholesale Club
– Valu-mart, Wholesale Club
– Your Independent Grocer
– Zehrs

Further restrictions on the card, like not being usable at Loblaw-owned gas stations, are detailed in the Loblaw Card Holder Agreement.

Legal action still permitted

Signing up for the gift card will not prevent you from joining a class-action lawsuit, like the one started by Derek Nepinak, the former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Nepinak says that “the poorest of the poor” are the people who were truly impacted by the scandal, and that overpaying by a few cents on every loaf has a genuine impact on their lives.

Nevertheless, Loblaw advises that you seek independent legal advice before agreeing to the release. In the fine print on the gift card site, Loblaw outlines that any compensation from a class-action lawsuit to you will be less $25 if you agree to sign up for the card. According to the site, signing up waives any impact you may have had by the scandal up to that amount.

However a judge ruled on Jan. 9 that Loblaw may not be able to enforce that deduction. Hon. Justice Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that Loblaw would not be able to automatically deduct the $25 value of the gift card it is providing to consumers. The company needs to demonstrate that the practice is fair to consumers as part of the overall resolution, representing law firm Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP states in a press release.

Jay Strosberg, a partner at the firm, stresses that what Loblaw is offering shouldn’t be considered a gift card, and is a coupon.

“The word ‘gift’ presupposes you’re giving something and not receiving anything in return,” Strosberg told Yahoo Canada Finance. “Loblaws is offering a coupon for its customers, and in exchange for this coupon, it wants a reduction in the civil liabilities from our lawsuit.”

Strosberg says that since the judge’s ruling, he’s confident that signing up for the coupon will not impact your ability to get full compensation as part of a class action lawsuit if it gets certified. All customers are automatically part of the class action, and will only be excluded if they opt out. Loblaw will likely point to the gift card gesture in an attempt to reduce the amount it would need to pay out as part of a class action, but Strosberg says what the judge ruled is significant in the case, and wouldn’t guarantee their ability to withhold further payment.

While Loblaw may be out up to $150 million for the gift card payout, the actual amount that they profited off the bread price-fixing scandal could be significantly higher, as much as $1 billion based on some estimates.

“If Loblaws truly wants to make amends, they should disclose how much they earned as a result of participating in this 14 year price fixing scheme,” said Strosberg. “But they won’t tell anybody.”

“How do you evaluate whether this is a good starting point unless you know how much was taken from you?” asks Strosberg.

Donating your gift card

Many people have said they would be donating their cards to charity after widespread pushes on social media. But Gail Nyberg, Executive Director of Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, told Yahoo Canada Finance in December that while any and all donations are appreciated, unless they make some sort of arrangement with Loblaw, they can’t do as much with gift cards as they can wish cash.

“What I’m afraid of is we may end up with thousands of dollars of [gift cards], and they don’t work quite the same way that cash does,” said Nyberg.

If you are looking to donate the gift card to a food bank, consider keeping the gift card and making a $25 cash donation instead.

This story was updated on Jan. 10, 2018.

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