Gift Cards for Experiences - Ontario Rules and how Brew Donkey does better

The holiday season is finally here! Do you know what that means?

Gift cards, gift cards everywhere! 

Everyone loves gift cards. They’re the perfect, easy gift option for people of all ages and interests. They eliminate guesswork and let the recipient use their gift whenever it works best for them. 

There are often many unknowns with buying gift cards. This can lead to headaches and unwanted holiday frustration. To help you out, we decided to dedicate a blog to this topic to clarify the laws surrounding gift cards. We’re going to show you precisely what you are guaranteed when gifting or getting a gift card and how you can maximize its value. 

Then we’re going to show you how here at Brew Donkey, we don’t only comply with the laws, but go above and beyond to give our customers the best gift-giving experience possible. 


What you need to know - retail gift cards 

Luckily in Ontario, we have the Consumer Protection Act, which helps regulate and ensure consumers get a fair deal. One of the most crucial things it does is prevent retail gift cards from expiring. This means no matter when you purchased a gift card, it still holds all its value and does not ever decline. 

A big bonus for buying gift cards for someone is that there is no sales tax on them. Businesses are not allowed to charge HST, so please ensure this by checking your receipt. This way, if you have a set budget or are tight with money, you don’t have to worry about hidden fees or taxes exceeding your limit. 

Nothing sucks more than burning money...

Although there are no expiry dates for retail gift cards, there is an exemption for gift cards donated to charities and when a gift card is for specific services such as a spa, massage or tailor services. You’ll want to redeem these gift cards before their expiry date (often within a year.) If not, you risk losing out on some or all of its value. 

Now you may be asking, “what about my loyalty cards and points cards?” Well, unfortunately, these cards are not covered by the gift card rules. Stores can choose to have them expire at any time. Other cards that can lose value include pre-paid credit cards. As a result, we recommend steering clear from pre-paid credit cards as gifts. Not only do they lose value, but they’re kind of just boring, low hanging fruit! You may as well gift someone some cash…

What about malls? 

A different set of rules exists for malls. Make sure you’re informed before buying a gift card from places like Bayshore or the Rideau Centre. These cards are not sold by stores but rather the malls themselves. 

Unlike retail stores, they can charge you various other fees retail stores can’t. For example, you can often expect to get charged $1.50 just to activate the card. 

Now, these gift cards don’t exactly expire, but they can lose value. After 15 months from the date of purchase, they can begin depreciating in value. They can also start charging you an inactivity fee of up to $2.50 a month.

You can request a 3-month extension before fees are charged by contacting the mall supplier no later than during the 15th month after purchase. Should you get an extension, fees cant be charged for an extra three months. 

The business closed! What are my options?

You may very well be out of luck here. There are often exemptions here, though. For example, you may be able to use the gift card at another retail location. If the company has filed for bankruptcy you can try to contact the trustee for help resolving the issue. 

If you have a mall gift card and your favourite store closes, that does not mean the gift card can be returned. You can use it at any other store in the mall.

The best gift card experience in Ottawa - Brew Donkey Tours

Here at Brew Donkey, we go the extra mile with our gift cards to ensure our customers have a merry Christmas and a headache-free experience. Although we are an “experience,” our gift cards never expire. Annoying processing or activation fees like the ones imposed by shopping malls is something you’ll never have to worry about with us. Not only do our gift cards never expire, they never lose their value either! 

Get reminders for your gift card. 

It happens, right? We all forget about that gift card tucked away in your drawer or wallet. We want our customers to get value with their purchase. That’s why we send reminder followup emails to people who bought gift cards that are full value still and over two years old to ensure they and the recipient get the value they deserve.

The Brew Donkey gift options? 

We offer gift cards in $25 increments as well as tour passes in the exact value of each of our tour designs. These make for the perfect gift for Ottawa beer and experience lovers. Our tours book up fast around this time of year, and our bonus glasses are a hot commodity. Visit us in-store today and finish all your holiday shopping. 

If you’re wondering, we’ve been using the same gift card engine from Shopify for all six years in business. This means your purchase experience is exceptionally user-friendly and straightforward. Unlike some other gift cards, ours are delivered immediately by email and can be used instantly upon purchase. Your recipient can then use them online simply by entering the 16 digit code when booking. 

Looking to get a gift card? Browse our gift options by clicking the link below: