A gift card received by a Calgary woman was drained of $50 before she got the chance to use it.

Launa Germiquet  got the $125 gift card to the Core shopping centre three years ago but didn’t hurry to spend it, since Alberta’s gift card law forbids expiry dates or card maintenance fees. But when she finally used it at the mall, $50 had disappeared.

The card is subject to a $2.50 per month fee beginning 16 months after its activation date, which was the day it was purchased.

“This is really a big trick and I'm not happy about it,” she said. “I have another five to seven gift cards and I thought they were all good but now I'm worried and I think I have to phone or call.”

Last year, 87% of Canadians gave or received gift cards according to surveyor Blackhawk Canada, and cards that can be used at any store in a mall are the most popular.

A spokesperson for the Core said the fees in this case are legal because the card is issued by a financial institution and make up administrative costs that do not profit the Core.                                 

Launa’s card has fine print on the back showing that it is in fact a Mastercard issued by Bank of America.

Some malls in Calgary charge the fees, some don’t, so it’s wise to shop around and understand what you are getting.

Under the Fair Trading Act, businesses convicted of breaking the gift card law can be fined as much as $300,000 and face up to 2 years in prison, but in the eight years since the law was enacted the province has investigated only 24 complaints and laid only 2 charges.