$25 gift card deadline nears, but Loblaws to keep paying for fixing bread prices


Tuesday marks the ultimate day to apply for Loblaws’ $25 gift card, provided as compensation for the retailer’s admitted half in a bread price-fixing scandal.

Many Canadians report they’re glad with their gift of free groceries. Nonetheless, the tip of the card program does not mark the tip of the retailer’s troubles — removed from it.

For starters, Loblaws nonetheless faces a number of proposed class motion lawsuits concentrating on the retailer and alleged co-conspirators within the scandal. 

Loblaws has said that it expects to subtract $25 from any potential settlement funds to class motion members who additionally acquired a gift card. 

Nonetheless, within the case of a proposed class motion in Ontario, a Superior Court docket decide not too long ago dominated that is not essentially the way it will play out. 

“Whether or not or not they get credit score for the gift playing cards is an open query,” stated lawyer Jay Strosberg, who’s concerned within the Ontario go well with. “Loblaws does not get to resolve that situation. The decide does.”

Sharron Katz in Stratford, Ont., instructed CBC Information in February that she was pleased to obtain her Loblaws gift card. (Submitted by Sharron Katz)

Loblaws instructed CBC Information that it has made it clear to prospects that making use of for the gift card does not forestall folks from collaborating in school motion lawsuits.

“Our $25 Loblaw Card is a real effort to put a reimbursement in our prospects’ arms shortly,” stated spokesperson Kevin Groh in an e mail to CBC Information.

Swamped with case inquiries

In November, Strosberg’s agency, Strosberg Sasso Sutts, launched a $1-billion class motion in Ontario representing victims of the alleged bread price-fixing scandal. 

The agency hopes to flip the Ontario go well with right into a nationwide class motion that will characterize anybody who bought packaged bread on or after 2001 in all provinces, besides Quebec the place a separate go well with has been filed.

One other agency, Service provider Regulation Group, can be pursuing the same nationwide class motion.

Strosberg says his workplace has already been swamped with 1000’s of inquiries from folks throughout the nation.

“This case, out of any case I’ve ever handled, actually hits house, I feel, with Canadians as a result of everyone buys bread.”

The Ontario go well with alleges that Loblaws, Canada Bread and grocers Sobeys, Walmart, Metro, and Large Tiger colluded to artificially inflate prices for packaged bread for about 16 years.

“The defendants have been unjustly enriched,” alleges the assertion of declare.

Sobeys, Large Tiger and Walmart proceed to deny any involvement. Canada Bread stated it is investigating the allegations and Metro declined to remark.

Extra investigations

In the meantime, Canada’s Competitors Bureau continues its investigation into the identical corporations for alleged bread price-fixing.

Loblaws is the one one to admit to any wrongdoing, and can obtain immunity from prosecution for co-operating with the Bureau’s investigation.

But it surely might face repercussions from Canada’s privateness commissioner on the way it dealt with the gift card program. The commissioner is investigating the retailer for asking some prospects to ship a replica of their ID, resembling a driver’s licence, earlier than receiving a gift card.

Robyn Fleming in St. John’s was displeased to get this e mail from Loblaws requesting she ship identification earlier than getting her $25 gift card. (Robyn Fleming)

Some affected prospects, together with Suzette Collins in Toronto, have been so upset by the request, they refused to comply and vowed to boycott Loblaws shops.

“It is completely ludicrous,” stated Collins, who occurs to work as a privateness and access-to-information guide. “There’s every kind of data on my driver’s licence that they are not entitled to for the aim of fulfilling a gift card voucher.”

Loblaws stated any private info despatched can be protected, and that the retailer wanted to do the ID examine to fight fraud. “We wished to be sure that the cash was really touchdown in our prospects’ arms,” stated Groh.

Gift playing cards successful?

Many shoppers who weren’t requested for ID acquired their gift card with no trouble and report they’re proud of the gesture. “They did the precise factor,” stated Chris Dunstan in Stanley, N.B., who purchased groceries along with his rebate. “I’m very glad with it.”

Meals business knowledgeable Sylvain Charlebois believes that Loblaws’ card program was a sensible transfer that helped forestall some prospects from shedding religion within the retailer following the price-fixing scandal.

“A price-fixing scheme which is overly difficult to perceive does not resonate all that effectively,” says Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie College specializing in meals distribution and coverage. 

“Twenty-five bucks, that is very straightforward to perceive.”

Chris Dunstan in Stanley, N.B., purchased groceries together with frozen pizza along with his $25 Loblaws gift card. (submitted by Chris Dunstan)

Charlebois says it is too early to decide the general success of this system. But he believes a optimistic signal is that Loblaws’ had quarter: the firm’s earnings grew to $377 million, a rise of 62.5 per cent in contrast to the primary quarter of 2017.

“While you have a look at monetary outcomes, it appears as if Loblaws has finished very effectively,” he stated. 

Though pending lawsuits and investigations concentrating on Loblaws proceed, Charlebois says the retailer can be benefiting from dwindling unfavourable press in regards to the price-fixing scandal and gift card program.

“Folks will neglect.”




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