When Ann Hull of Barrie, Ont., visited her local Bed Bath & Beyond store last week, she bought an ice cream scooper and a paper towel holder, determined to use her $50 gift card before it was too late.
“It was not what I really wanted,” she said. “I was disappointed and I was definitely frustrated.”
The U.S.-based Bed Bath & Beyond retail chain is in financial trouble, so it’s closing all of its 54 Bed Bath & Beyond stores and 11 buybuy BABY locations in Canada.
Last month, Bed Bath & Beyond Canada was granted bankruptcy protection by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The company told CBC News its Canadian stores are set to close sometime next month, but customer gift cards and Welcome Rewards points will expire next week — on March 9.
Hull said she thinks the March 9 deadline is unfair.
“There’s going to be a lot of disappointed people,” she said. “I think they should be honouring the gift cards right until their doors close.”
Can gift cards expire?
Typically, gift cards can’t expire in Canada as mandated by provincial consumer protection regulations. But that rule no longer applies when a company seeks bankruptcy protection — leaving the courts to determine whether, and for how long, a retailer’s gift cards will be accepted.
“Generally, the judge will accept the company’s recommendation, but it is ultimately the judge who needs to approve it,” said insolvency lawyer Geoffrey Dabbs.
Bed Bath & Beyond did not answer questions about the March 9 deadline, except to say that it had been extended following an initial expiry date of Feb. 25.
Dabbs said gift cardholders are fortunate they have a window of opportunity to redeem their cards, as they join a long list of unsecured creditors owed money by Bed Bath & Beyond Canada.
“The unsecured creditors on the bottom typically get little or nothing,” said Dabbs, a partner with Gehlen Dabbs Cash LLP