Groupon has really taken off in Canada. I think mainly because many popular restaurants have been available as Groupons and that has driven alot of adoption. One of my favourite restaurants, Utopia Cafe sold almost 1500 Groupons during their promotion. Today’s Groupon is for the very popular Table 17 Restaurant
If you’re not familar with the concept basically a Groupon is presented for a limited time period, usually 24 hours and a certain number of people have to buy the Groupon for the deal the activate. In most cases the Groupon offers a 50% discount when you purchase immediately. Most Groupon’s don’t have alot of restrictions on when they can be used but do have an expiry date. Groupon also encourages additional Groupons to be purchased as Gifts. This presents an interesting legal aspect, especially in Ontario, where Gift Cards and Certificates are regulated.
In 2007, the Consumer Protection Act was amended to ban expiry dates and most fees on gift cards purchased after that date to ensure consumers get their full value, regardless of when they use them. The enhanced consumer protection measures now in force include:
- Prohibiting expiry dates on gift cards and certificates
- Restricting fees charged for gift cards to a) customizing a gift card, or b) replacing a lost or stolen gift card;
- Requiring the clear and prominent disclosure of any terms and conditions relating to a gift card (e.g., any limits to redeeming a card).
Should this protection apply to Groupons? Are they a gift card or certificate?