Washington Post Auto-Renewal Violations California Class Action

The WP Company, LLC does business as the Washington Post, or WaPo. The complaint for this class action alleges that when consumers sign up for subscriptions, WaPo enrolls them in automatic renewal plans, without the disclosures and authorizations required by California law.

The class for this action is all persons in California who, within the applicable statute of limitations period, up to the date of final judgment in this case, incurred renewal fees with WaPo’s subscription offerings to the Washington Post.

WaPo sells subscriptions through its website, mobile applications, and third-party websites, applications, and platforms. The complaint alleges that however consumers sign up, they are put into automatic renewal programs that result in additional charges to the consumers’ credit cards or other accounts. Although this is legal in most states, California has an Automatic Renewal Law (ARL) which requires specific things of online companies who wish to enroll consumers in automatic renewal subscriptions.

Under the ARL, online retailers who offer auto renewals to California customers must do a number of things:

  • They must get the consumers’ affirmative consent before the purchase.
  • They must provide the complete terms of the automatic renewal program in a clear and conspicuous manner, in visual proximity to the request for consent.
  • They must give the consumers an acknowledgement that contains and easy and efficient way for consumers to cancel their subscriptions.

The complaint claims that WaPo’s online subscription processes violate each of these requirements. It alleges that WaPo “makes it exceedingly difficult and unnecessarily confusing for consumers to cancel their WaPo subscriptions.”

The plaintiff in this case, Deborah Jordan, signed up for a free trial subscription to WaPo when she was in California. She was not aware that WaPo intended to convert her to a paying subscriber as soon as the free month was over. Before she was aware of it, WaPo had charged her eight unauthorized charges for additional months, adding up to $80.

Eventually, when she became aware of it, she contacted WaPo and asked for a refund of the $80. WaPo refused.

The complaint alleges that companies that sign people up for auto-renewal programs benefit from inertia: “[R]etailers have also recognized that, where the recurring nature of the service, billing practices, or cancellation process is unclear or complicated, ‘consumers may lose interest but be too harried to take the extra step of canceling their membership[s].”

The complaint notes that the “inadequate disclosures and refusal to issue a refund are contrary to ARL, which deems products provided in violation of the statute to be a gift to consumers.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Washington Post Auto-Renewal Violations California Complaint

July 29, 2020

The WP Company, LLC does business as the Washington Post, or WaPo. The complaint for this class action alleges that when consumers sign up for subscriptions, WaPo enrolls them in automatic renewal plans, without the disclosures and authorizations required by California law.

Washington Post Auto-Renewal Violations California Complaint

Case Event History

Washington Post Auto-Renewal Violations California Complaint

July 29, 2020

The WP Company, LLC does business as the Washington Post, or WaPo. The complaint for this class action alleges that when consumers sign up for subscriptions, WaPo enrolls them in automatic renewal plans, without the disclosures and authorizations required by California law.

Washington Post Auto-Renewal Violations California Complaint
Tags: Undisclosed Auto Subscription Renew, Unlawful Subscription Renewal