Consumer Reports Automatic Subscription Renewal California Class Action

California has a large variety of consumer protection laws. One is the California Automatic Renewal Law (ARL), which sets forth rules businesses must follow when signing consumers up for a program that involves automatic renewal at the end of some term. The complaint for this class action alleges that Consumer Reports, Inc. does not follow these rules and violates ARL when it renews California customers’ subscriptions.

The class for this action is all individuals in California who, within the applicable limiitations period, were enrolled by Consumer Reports, Inc. in an automatic renewal or continuous service program.

In previous times, magazines and other periodicals sold subscriptions with a limited term. The consumer chose the period desired and paid for that. When the end of the subscription approached, the company would notify the consumer and provide and option for renewal.

However, these days when electronic payments are the norm, businesses already have consumers’ payment card information. They have created a “negative option” in which consumers will be charged for a subscription renewal unless they specifically reject the additional subscription. This is profitable for the company but bad for the consumer who may not remember when to cancel or reject the renewal.

In fact, some consumers don’t even realize they have been enrolled in automatic subscription renewal programs. The complaint quotes the reasoning behind the law: “Consumers report they believe they were making a one-time purchase of a product, only to receive continued shipments of the product and charges on their credit card. These unforeseen charges are often the result of agreements enumerated on the ‘fine print’ on an order or advertisement the customer responded to.”

The California law then requires several things:
The business must present the automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner “before the subscription or purchasing agreement is fulfilled…”
The business must obtain affirmative consent to the automatic renewal or continuous service agreement before charging the consumer’s credit card or debiting the consumer’s account.
The business must provide the consumer with an acknowledgement that includes the terms of the automatic renewal or continuous service offer, the cancellation policy, and information on how to cancel, in a form that can be retained by the consumer.

According to the complaint Consumer Reports did not meet these requirements for those of its customers who live in California.

The complaint quotes online postings from other consumers alleging the same questionable behavior from Consumer Reports.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Consumer Reports Automatic Subscription Renewal California Complaint

April 6, 2020

California has a large variety of consumer protection laws. One is the California Automatic Renewal Law (ARL), which sets forth rules businesses must follow when signing consumers up for a program that involves automatic renewal at the end of some term. The complaint for this class action alleges that Consumer Reports, Inc. does not follow these rules and violates ARL when it renews California customers’ subscriptions.

Consumer Reports Automatic Subscription Renewal California Complaint

Case Event History

Consumer Reports Automatic Subscription Renewal California Complaint

April 6, 2020

California has a large variety of consumer protection laws. One is the California Automatic Renewal Law (ARL), which sets forth rules businesses must follow when signing consumers up for a program that involves automatic renewal at the end of some term. The complaint for this class action alleges that Consumer Reports, Inc. does not follow these rules and violates ARL when it renews California customers’ subscriptions.

Consumer Reports Automatic Subscription Renewal California Complaint
Tags: Undisclosed Auto Subscription Renew