Gift cards are an increasingly common stocking stuffer, on which Canadians spend an estimated $6-billion a year. And judging by this ad for drugstore Jean Coutu appearing in yesterday's issue of the free daily 24 h, Quebeckers have plenty of options to choose from.
However, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid last summer, Quebeckers appear to be significantly less likely than Canadians in the ROC to buy or receive gift cards. 72% of all Canadians claim to have bought or received at least one gift card in the past year compared to 64% of Quebeckers.
A refund obligation
There is also a difference in terms of the regulatory framework. In June, 2010 Quebec's Consumer Protection Act implemented legislation designed to protect purchasers of gift cards. The merchant must refund to the consumer, upon request, an amount equal to the balance on the card when the balance is lower than $5.00. The refund obligation – which does not have a parallel in any other province – is designed to prevent consumers from having to choose between losing the balance on their prepaid cards and overspending - except for a mobile telephone card or a prepaid credit card.