03/14/2012 10:45 EDT | Updated 05/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Pharmaprix Optimum members sue over program changes

A Montreal judge has approved a class action lawsuit that claims the Pharmaprix Optimum loyalty card program unfairly lowered the value of its points, costing members more to redeem them for goods.

“We contend this changing of value is illegal,” said Marie-Anaïs Sauvé, a lawyer handling the lawsuit. "You cannot change the central elements of a contract without having the consumers' consent."

The suit will now be filed on behalf of 1.4 million Optimum card holders in Quebec.

In July 2010, Pharmaprix’s parent company, Shoppers Drug Mart, dropped the value of points on the cards.

The points needed for $10 worth of goods at the store used to be 7,000. After the changes, members now need to use 8,000 points to get a discount of the same value.

The suit claims the company broke its contract with members when it decreased the value of the program points.

In terms of damages, the claimants are seeking the re-establishment of the previous points threshold and compensation for the loss of value to all consumers.

All Pharmaprix Optimum members who were living in Quebec on June 30, 2010, are represented in the suit.

A representative from Pharmaprix said the company will "vigorously" defend itself when the case comes to court.

It will likely be another two years before it reaches that point, Sauvé said.