Ontario regulations re: prohibition of expiry of reward points

The Ontario government has launched a consultation, to obtain public commentary on proposed regulatory amendments to the Consumer Protection Act (the “CPA“) to implement the prohibition on the expiry of reward points due to the passage of time alone. It is expected that once the reward points amendments come into force, they will govern a wide range of reward point programs including programs that are offered by specific retailers, multi-retailer programs, and reward programs associated with credit cards (how the latter will be implemented will be watched closely as to the application of provincial consumer protection laws on federal entities who issue credit cards associated with reward points).

The proposed definition of “reward points” is “any way of expressing partial progress that must be accumulated before a benefit is accessible, whether earned across multiple transactions or through spending a certain amount and whether described as points, dollars spent, stars, or using any similar term, provided that such progress is capable of being accumulated across transactions.”

It is stated that the reward points expiry will apply to points earned under consumer agreements regardless of the form they take, and “reward points” would cover any way of expressing partial progress that must be accumulated to reach the point where a benefit can be accessed. Reward points programs that allow consumers to convert or exchange points earned from another supplier would also be covered.

What would not be considered reward points include tickets, coupons or vouchers or price reductions that represent a right already purchased or granted in full and some partial progress rewards for punch or stamp cards and for specific goods or services (similar to the gift card expiry exemption under the CPA, where the expiry prohibition does not apply to gift cards issued for a specific set of services e.g., services at a spa).

The consultation is looking for views on:

  • What the definition of reward points should be
  • Clarification on the “passage of time alone” expiry
  • Preventing the use of contract termination and renewal as a means to expire points
  • Addressing any transition issues, including how long the transition period should be for businesses to adapt their systems and documentation for implementation of the new rules

The consultation paper provides further details on the foregoing, which details will be covered in the next (fulsome) post.

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