Autorenewal Programs or How Corporations Pick Your Pockets
Have you ordered something online, advertised at a great one time price or even free (but for paying for shipping and handling) for products like fountain-of-youth vitamins, delicious diet food, magazines or services (Sirius XM, Match.com, etc.), and you purchase these services products or (or just the cost of shipping or handling) with your debit/credit card?
Subsequently you check your credit card and discover that the company charged your card again (which is offensive in itself) – but not just the $1.95 you had agreed to, but instead for $79.00. You realize you have been slammed into an auto renewal program that you never want to be in and you have no idea how to get out of it. When you try to get out of it, you discover on the company’s website there’s no way to remove yourself from the auto renewal program or when you try to call the company, you can never get through to a live person, or when you do, it’s a person who only has the authority to upsell you on more products or services or maybe if you can convince the person that you want out, the person will agree to put the auto renewal program on pause (you did though enjoy talking to the agent and hope his son did well in the cricket game and that it wasn’t rained out because of the monsoon rains that could last a month).
Why did this happen? Think about it this way. If you gave your credit card to a family member or a friend for them to use for a specific purpose, have you noticed that it is kind of hard to get your card back? And when you later get the bill for that card, you read it very slowly, while providing line-by-line commentary such as, “Who the f’ spent $67.34 at Orange Julius! I didn’t even know Orange Julius’s were still around.” “There used to be one in that one shopping mall.” “I wasn’t aware that there still were shopping malls.”
Well, my friend, though you never intended it, you have in effect handed your credit card over to a corporation, and good luck ever getting it back on your own.
In Iran, if someone takes money out of your bank account (i.e. stealing), that person will lose a hand. It’s called Sharia law. People in America think that Sharia law is a bad thing, but when you’re on the phone for three days trying to get an automatic debit removed from your checking account, you may start thinking differently about Sharia law.
In all seriousness, more than fifteen states have enacted statutes regulating automatic renewals. (See below) These statutes require companies to disclose automatic renewal policies in a clear and conspicuous manner. Furthermore, some statutes require companies to obtain customers’ informed consent with respect to the automatic renewal terms before charging a credit card and to disclose how to cancel the subscription and avoid future recurring payments.
For example, California’s automatic renewal law prohibits retailers from charging consumers’ credit card, debit card, or bank account for ongoing orders without their explicit consent. Under the law, businesses who automatically renew customers’ orders must state the automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms in a “clear and conspicuous” manner before the order is finalized, which means that the terms must be in a larger or contrasting type that “clearly calls attention to the language” and that the disclosure must be made before and in immediate proximity to the signature line or online authorization button.
The states which have enacted automatic renewal laws include California (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17600-17606), Connecticut (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-126b); Florida (Fla. Stat. § 501.165), Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 13-12-3); Illinois (815 ILCS 601/10); Louisiana (La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2716; Maryland (Md. Code Com. Law § 14-12B-06;, New Hampshire (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 358-I:5); New York (N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-903); North Carolina (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-41); Oregon (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 646A.293, .295); Rhode Island (R.I. Gen. Laws § 6-13-14); South Carolina (S.C. Code § 44-79-60); South Dakota (S.D. Codified Laws § 49-31-116); Tennessee (Tenn. Code §§ 62-32-325, 47-18-505); and Utah (Utah Code § 15-10-201).
Have you been slammed into an auto renewal program without realizing it until you see the charge on your credit or debit card or a product you didn’t order appears on your doorstep? Also, in those instances where you intended to sign up for auto renewal program, did the company provide you will full knowledge of the terms and conditions of this program – i.e., you have to unenroll within 45 days of the next billing cycle in order to not be charged again, etc? In any event, are you having a difficult time getting out of an auto renewal program? Did you come across our website while searching for the answer to “How in the bleep bleep hell can I get this bleep bleep business to stop charging my bleep bleep credit card?!”
One word: Lawsuit.
The attorneys at CPL are sitting by a phone right now ready to work for you at no risk or expense to you unless we recover on your behalf.
Companies that we are currently investigating include, but are not limited to:
Any companies offering free or low cost samples (supplements, hair or body care products, etc.) who continue to charge you beyond what you understood;
Any magazine subscription providers;
Any music subscriber subscription providers;
Any content subscriber subscription providers;
Any companies who have charged you without your consent on a periodic basis; and
Any companies who make it difficult to get out of an auto-renewal program.