A class action suit claiming banks and pre-paid credit card companies breached B.C.’s Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act by selling prepaid cards with purchase fees and expiry dates has been approved by the province’s highest court.
The defendants – Peoples Trust Company, Peoples Card Services Limited Partnership, Peoples Card Services Ltd., Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, Citizens Bank of Canada, Amex Bank of Canada and All Trans Financial Services Credit Union Limited – are all issuers of general-use prepaid cards, a unanimous May 2 ruling by the B.C. Court of Appeal judges said
“These are prepaid cards that function like a credit card and are branded as VISA, American Express or MasterCard,” the court said. ”The defendants all charge various fees in relation to the purchase and use of their prepaid cards, and some cards have expiry dates.”
The cards are used for a variety of reasons: personal use, business purposes, both personal and business use and by governments to distribute social assistance benefits.
The woman bringing the action, proposed representative claimant Ying Jiang, purchased a general-use, prepaid card with a face value of $25 – plus a $3.95 activation fee – in Burnaby. It was issued by Citizens Bank and branded with a VISA logo.
Jiang’s main allegation is that the cards infringe provincial law because they have expiry dates and charge fees. B.C.’s laws on such cards were amended in 2008.
B.C. Supreme Court in March 2016 dismissed the plaintiff’s original class action certification application, saying the requirements of the Class Proceedings Act were not met.