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London Drugs says 'non' to shipping to Quebec on behalf of B.C. customers

Language law cited for not shipping to Quebec: London Drugs says it is “unable to adapt” to requirements of Bill 96.
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A London Drugs store in Vancouver. NONO SHEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER — It was going to be a joyous Christmas gift sent by mail to his 95-year-old mother in Montreal: A jigsaw made with the adorable photos of her two great grandchildren.

But it became a bit of a puzzler for a B.C. man, who learned London Drugs won’t ship to Quebec.

Eric Brown, who lives in Vancouver, wanted to send his mom a photo album he crafted using London Drugs’ PhotoLab. He made the online order but when the shipping address menu popped open it listed every province and territory except Quebec.

“I know this isn’t a big news story compared to what’s going on in the world but I just really want to know why they won’t ship to Quebec,” he said.

“I went through the whole process on their website, making everything, going past the purchase point, but when it got to the shipping point, and then Quebec wasn’t there, I thought ‘is there a bug in the system?’”

He said he called London Drugs about the issue but the only explanation he received was that “it was a business decision.”

He sent an email to the company and received a brief reply from the customer care centre saying the same thing.

“Unfortunately, a business decision has been made at this time that we are no longer shipping to Quebec. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused,” read the Nov. 24 email from London Drugs, which Brown shared with Postmedia.

He asked why the company would make such a business decision but received no response.

“It makes no sense,” he said. “They are using Canada Post and they ship as far as Prince Edward Island, so it is bizarre that they won’t ship to Quebec.”

Eventually, he gave up and went to another company to have a photo gift made because he wanted to make sure it got to his mother’s residence in time for Christmas. He mailed it through Canada Post himself.

He said he usually sends her photos of his two grandkids — her great-grandchildren — around the holidays so it wasn’t a big surprise but the jigsaw, he thought, added a nice twist to a holiday favourite.

The reason has to do with a new language law — commonly known as Bill 96 — in Quebec which imposes stricter language requirements on businesses and cities. Other companies such as PetSmart and OtterBox have also suspended shipping to Quebec.

In September, the Colorado-based OtterBox said: “We have temporarily suspended shipments to Quebec, Canada due to Bill 96, which requires French language support across all sales and marketing touch points. We are working to comply with the provisions of this new law so we can resume shipments to Quebec as soon as possible.”

The Quebec government has described the law as a moderate response to what it says is the declining use of French in the province, particularly in Montreal.

In a statement to Postmedia Saturday, London Drugs called it “a difficult decision” but due to a variety of logistical challenges and working with legal advisers the company stopped shipping to Quebec Nov. 15.

“We respect the changes in the laws and restrictions put in place by the Quebec government, and are unable to adapt to them at this time,” the statement said.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

— With files from The Canadian Press