Bottom Line: Once again we see upset consumers – and a class action – as a company tries to change key terms in its loyalty program.
On March 6, 2012, the Quebec Superior Court authorized a class action against Groupe Aeroplan Inc. (“Aeroplan”) relating to its decision to implement expiry dates on its loyalty program points (“Aeroplan Miles”). Neale c. Groupe Aéroplan Inc., 2012 QCCS 902 (CanLII).
Under the Aeroplan Terms and Conditions (“Aeroplan Terms”), in place since 2007, if there is no activity in a member's Aeroplan account within a 12-month period, Aeroplan Miles will expire. All accumulated Aeroplan Miles will also expire if they are not used within seven years of acquisition. To reinstate expired points, members have to pay a fee.
Mrs. Noëlla Neale, on behalf of Aeroplan members, is asking for the reinstatement of her expired Aeroplan Miles, the reimbursement of money spent to reinstate the Aeroplan Miles, $50 in compensatory damages, an undetermined amount of exemplary damages and a declaration that both changes in the Aeroplan Terms, which led to the current legal proceedings, are void.
Legally speaking, Mrs. Neale claims that Aeroplan is civilly liable for unilaterally, and without proper warning, modifying the standard form contract (i.e., the Aeroplan Terms) that governs Aeroplan membership. Aeroplan contends that these modifications were perfectly legitimate since the Aeroplan Terms specifically provide that Aeroplan may modify the terms at any time. In addition, Aeroplan argues the sufficiency of the warnings and of the deadline given to its members.