Have you ever wondered why the balance on your shopping mall gift card has decreased since it was purchased? Well, it may be because “mall cards” are allowed to charge fees in BC. Mall cards can be a great option for your friends or family members who are hard to buy for but note that there may be some additional fees.
We oversee a piece of law called the Prepaid Purchase Cards Regulation in BC which speaks mainly to fees and expiry dates, as well as what kind of cards are exempt. Let’s get started and learn why mall gift cards sometimes decrease in value overtime.
What are mall cards?
Typically, mall cards are for a shopping mall and can be used at multiple unaffiliated sellers within the mall. Mall cards are allowed to charge fees in BC but the issuers must inform the purchasers about the extra fees. Here are some rules:
- At the time of purchase, mall cards may charge up to $1.50 service fee
- If a post-purchase fee applies, information about the fee must be included on the card itself
- Post-purchase fees may begin 15 months after purchase
- At the request of the consumer, post-purchase fees may be delayed for an additional three months
What kind of post-purchase fees are they allowed to charge?
If there is still a balance on the card after 15 months from the time of purchase, a post-purchase fee of up to $2.50 per month may be deducted from the balance. However, as I mentioned above, a consumer may request a three-month extension before the fees are charged.
Example: Susan was gifted a $50 mall card a while ago and she forgot about the card and kept it in her kitchen drawer for 20 months. Now that she re-discovered her mall card, she wants to use it. She finds out that the card now has a balance of $37.50 ($2.50 x 5 months deducted from $50).
How do I find out what fees and expiry dates apply?
By law, mall card issuers must make purchasers aware that extra fees apply, so that you can make informed decisions about the purchase. Often, the additional terms and restrictions are stated in the Card Agreement Purchase (supplied with every gift card).
Why are mall cards allowed to charge fees?
There are extra costs involved with processing cards that can be used at multiple unaffiliated sellers, for example several stores in a mall.
Was I overcharged?
If you ever feel that you are charged fees that are not permitted, the first step is to contact the shopping mall where your card comes from. If you choose to do so, make sure that your request is in writing and keep any paperwork associated with it. If you still feel that the situation has not been resolved, you can contact us.
So, there’s a lot to know about the gift card law in BC – if you would like more information, take a look at other blog posts related to gift cards.