Friday, April 11, 2008

Gift Cards Won't Expire in British Columbia

Gift Cards Protected
Under New BC Law

Consumers will get full value out of their gift cards as the Province bans expiry dates and service charges under legislation introduced today, Solicitor General John van Dongen has announced.

“Gift cards are increasingly popular, and fair, consistent rules are needed to ensure people get what they pay for,” van Dongen said. “Whether someone buys a $10 coffee card or a $500 boutique gift card, they should not see its value eroded by service charges or eliminated by an expiry date. We are going to make sure they get their money’s worth.”

Effective later this year, the Public Safety and Solicitor General (Gift Card Certainty) Statutes Amendment Act will:

Require businesses to inform customers at the time of purchase how cards can be redeemed, used and replaced.

· Prohibit expiry dates and fees, except in limited circumstances.

The changes follow consultations with businesses and retail and consumer organizations. Individuals or businesses that violate the new law could be subject to administrative penalties, and customers will be entitled to a refund if they are charged prohibited fees.

Expands Civil Forfeiture

The new act will also amend civil forfeiture legislation so vehicles may be forfeited and sold if a civil court rules unlawful activity – such as impaired driving or street racing – could have caused serious injury or death. Under current legislation, civil forfeiture does not apply if inherently dangerous, unlawful activity is interrupted by police before it causes harm.

The expanded legislation will also help take the profit out of more organized crime and unlawful activities. It will clarify that a civil forfeiture action can be taken against instruments of unlawful activity – for example, property and equipment used to grow marijuana where the crop has not yet been harvested and sold. It will also clarify and strengthen the legal intent and validity of the two-year-old Civil Forfeiture Act, in response to judges’ interpretations and legal advice related to civil forfeiture actions. To date, rulings and judgments related to actions taken under this pioneering legislation have been favourable.

The Amendment Act also will allow the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), corporate sponsors and national Olympic committees to operate temporary, liquor-licensed facilities before and during the Games. These time-limited licences will only apply to venues hosting official Games events or facilities. Temporary licensees will be required to meet B.C.’s existing, high standards designed to prevent intoxication and service to minors.

Other amendments in the new legislation support regulatory reform by eliminating duplication and obsolete requirements from the Motor Vehicle Act and Commercial Transport Act. These changes reflect current practices and will not affect service to the public.


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