BUSINESS
01/08/2018 08:50 EST | Updated 01/08/2018 12:25 EST

Loblaws Gift Card Now Available, But ‘Read The Fine Print,’ Lawyers Urge

The retailer is trying to make amends with customers for a bread price-fixing scheme.

A Loblaw supermarket is pictured in Ottawa, Ont., Nov. 14, 2017. The company has launched a website where customers can register for a $25 gift card, to make amends for an alleged bread price-fixing scheme.
Chris Wattie / Reuters
A Loblaw supermarket is pictured in Ottawa, Ont., Nov. 14, 2017. The company has launched a website where customers can register for a $25 gift card, to make amends for an alleged bread price-fixing scheme.

Loblaws' attempt to make up for being involved in an alleged multi-year bread price-fixing scheme is going live today.

The company has launched a website where customers can register for a $25 gift card, which can be used at any Loblaw Co. store, including Loblaws, Provigo, Valu-Mart and No Frills. Customers can also request registration by mail, or through a toll-free number available on the website.

On the registration page, Loblaw tells customers that the $25 they receive as a gift card will be deducted from any other settlement the customer may receive as part of court action on the price-fixing scheme.

To be eligible for a card, users must be the age of majority or older in their province (18 years old in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, or Saskatchewan, 19 years old elsewhere) and have bought bread products from a Loblaw Co. retailer between Jan. 1, 2002 and March 1, 2015.

Watch: Loblaws offers $25 gift card for alleged bread price-fixing

Loblaw and its parent company, George Weston Ltd., revealed last month that they had notified the Competition Bureau of an alleged bread price-fixing scheme involving numerous Canadian retailers.

Among those reportedly being investigated by the Competition Bureau are Canada Bread, Walmart, Sobeys, Metro and Giant Tiger as well as "other persons known and unknown."

'Read the fine print'


Several class-action lawsuits have sprung up since the alleged price-fixing scheme was revealed, and lawyers involved in those cases are urging members of the public to "read the fine print" before accepting a gift card.

"Loblaw is leaving consumers in the dark about what the gift card programme is really intended to do," David Wingfield, a partner at Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP, told The Suburban last week.

"Before you register, be aware of what it is you're signing over," Michael Vathilakis of Montreal-based law firm Renno Vathilakis Avocats told the Montreal Gazette. "Make sure you're not relinquishing any rights."

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On its newly launched website, Loblaw says accepting the gift card will not prevent customers from pursuing other forms of compensation — but it does state that Loblaw will deduct the $25 from any further settlement the customer may receive through the courts.

"Registering for and obtaining the $25 Loblaw Card will not affect customers' right to participate in any class action or to receive any incremental compensation that may be awarded by the court," the company said.

In its terms and conditions, Loblaw also notes the card can't be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco, and it can't be reimbursed for cash.

Loblaw says the gift cards will arrive by mail within six weeks of registration, though in some cases it could take up to 12 weeks. The cards have no expiry date.

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