Last December, it was reported that Loblaw was involved in a bread price-fixing scheme and investigation that involved other retailers including Sobeys, Canada Bread, and Metro Inc.
In a bid to pacify their customers for their role in the price-fixing arrangement, and show some goodwill, Loblaw Companies Ltd. indicated that they would be offering customers a $25 gift card. In December 2017, they also opened a website – LoblawCard.ca – where customers could enter their email addresses in order to be notified when registration opened.
The company expects that 3 to 6 million Canadians will be eligible to receive the gift card, and that it could cost them $75 to $150 million in pay-outs.
The ongoing investigations into price-fixing within the bread industry dates back to as far as 2001 until 2015 – over 14 years!
What is Price-Fixing?
According to Investopedia,
Price fixing is setting the price of a product or service, rather than allowing it to to be determined by free-market forces.
What does that mean?
Well, if you have been hearing the word “collusion” a lot in the news lately (hint: think U.S. politics), this is a real example of that.
Businesses sometime collude with one another to fix the price of a good or service – either at a discount or at a premium to what the price should actually be. More often than not, price-fixing is done to benefit the businesses involved.
Price-fixing is illegal in Canada and a criminal offence under Section 45 of the Competition Act.
Are You Eligible For the $25 Loblaw Gift Card?
Registration for the gift card commenced on January 8, 2018. According to information on LoblawCard.ca website, you are eligible for the $25 card if:
If you do meet the eligibility requirements, you can complete the online form that is found here – Loblawcard.ca/en/form. Paper registrations are also possible and you can obtain a printable form by emailing: [email protected].
All registration forms (online and paper) must be submitted by May 8, 2018, in order to be processed.
What About Ongoing Class-Action Suits?
There are already several class-action suits against Loblaw because of their price-fixing admission. These class-action suits have left some people wondering if they would miss out on potentially larger payoffs by collecting on the $25 gift card being offered by Loblaw.
This doesn’t appear to be the case, however. On the FAQ portion of the Loblaw website, they state that:
No. Registering for and obtaining the $25 Loblaw Card will not affect your right to participate in a class action or to receive any incremental compensation that may be awarded by the court. However, agreeing to the release will mean that twenty-five (25) dollars will be deducted from any compensation that you may otherwise be entitled to receive in any class action judgment against, or settlement with, Loblaw relating to any overcharge on the price of packaged bread in the period between January 1, 2002 and March 1, 2015.
This seems to mean that you may still be eligible for any other compensation or settlement up to any amount over and above the $25 already provided through the gift card.
Will Other Involved Stores Offer Compensation?
This remains to be seen, and it appears the investigations are ongoing. However, I am pretty sure we will be hearing more about this issue in the days ahead.
Save-On-Foods recently announced a similar $24 rebate to members of their More Rewards program. However, they indicated that they were not involved in any way in the illegal activity. As per the retailer’s President, Darrell Jones, they will also be seeking compensation from their suppliers who were involved in the scheme.
While news that some retailers in Canada were skimming their customers for probably 14 years is not “good” news, there has been some good out of the mess. Many people are already donating their gift cards to charities and local food banks in the bid to help the homeless and less-privileged. This is a good and kind gesture that I totally subscribe to.
Other Readings Around The Web This Week
The Globe and Mail broke the news that RBC had hiked their posted 5-year fixed mortgage rate by 15 basis point to 5.14% (from 4.99%) on Thursday. This means that new mortgage borrowers will have to qualify at the 5.14% starting next week under the new stress testing rules. It is worthy to note that posted five-year fixed mortgage rates haven’t been this high since 2014.
TD and CIBC followed suit early on Friday, raising their rates as well. It appears that the big banks are expecting the Bank of Canada to raise its key interest rate target from 1 to 1.25% soon. Rising yields in the bond market are also pointing to this scenario as well.
As reported by William Watts at MarketWatch, Warren Buffett recently slammed the craze going on in the cryptocurrency world. He is confident that “they will come to a bad ending.” That’s pretty tough stuff right there!
Fin$avvy Panda shared: How to Save (and Spend) Money the Sexy Way. Wondering how to cut back and save some money in 2018 without beating yourself up? She discusses 15 different strategies that can help your wallet.
Gen Y Money shared her 2018 Personal Finance Resolutions. If you are looking for a challenge to improve your finances in 2018, you will enjoy this great piece!
Alexis Bennett at Instyle talked about 10 Easy Ways to Save on Travel this Year. It’s an interesting read for you travel hackers out there.
Buying a house soon and looking for the lowest mortgage rate possible? check out IntelliMortgage for the best mortgage rates available in your area!
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