Crain’s Chicago Business Subscription Auto-Renewal Investigation
The Lyon Firm is investigating potentially illegal automatic renewal schemes and deceptive billing practices on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide. If you have questions about an auto-renewal of your Crain’s Chicago Business subscription, contact The Lyon Firm to review.
Crain’s Chicago Business is a weekly business newspaper in Chicago. It is owned by Detroit-based Crain Communications, a privately held publishing company with more than 30 magazines, including Advertising Age, Modern Healthcare, Crain’s New York Business, Crain’s Detroit Business, Crain’s Cleveland Business, and Automotive News.
Consumers have alleged that when they subscribe to Crain’s Chicago Business, the company automatically enrolls them in an auto-renewal program. If you think you have been deceptively entered into a Crain’s Chicago Business subscription, call for a free consultation.
Joe Lyon is a class action consumer fraud lawyer investigating Crain’s Chicago Business subscription auto-renewal claims, and other deceptive billing practice complaints for plaintiffs nationwide.
What Are the Requirements for Proper Auto-Renewal?
There are specific components that must be included in subscription automatic renewal contracts:
- Clear disclosures about the offer: Companies must present the terms of any automatic renewal offer “clearly and conspicuously.”
- Disclosures about the contract period: The contract period must be clearly presented prior to a consumer purchase.
- Obtaining consent: Consent must be “express” and “informed.” Written consent is voluntarily given by a competent individual after details of the offer have been disclosed.
- Written confirmation following a purchase: Written acknowledgment must be given to the customer after a purchase, and must include the initial disclosures, and specific information on how to cancel. If a free trial is offered, this must also include details on how to cancel the subscription before being charged.
- Cancellation mechanisms must be simple: Methods to cancel a subscription must be cost-effective, timely, and easy.
- Renewal reminders must be timely: These vary by state, but companies should send proper notice to customers before their subscription is automatically renewed.
Crain’s Chicago Business Subscriptions: What are Automatic Renewal Law Violations?
There have been allegations that Crain’s Chicago may not entirely comply with state Automatic Renewal Laws (Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act), and may be liable for relevant violations.
To comply with Illinois law, if the subscription is for less than a year, Crain is required to disclose the automatic renewal clause clearly and conspicuously, including the cancellation procedure. If the subscription is annual, Crain Communications is required to comply with subsections (b) and (b.5) of the relevant Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, listed below:
- “[a]ny person, firm…that sells or offers to sell products or services to a consumer pursuant to a contract…, where such contract automatically renews unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall disclose the automatic renewal clause clearly and conspicuously in the contract, including the cancellation procedure.” 815 ILCS 601/10 (a).
- “[a]ny person, firm…. that sells or offers to sell products or services to a consumer pursuant to a contract…, where such contract term is a specified term of 12 months or more, and where such contract automatically renews for a term of more than one month unless the consumer cancels the contract, shall notify the consumer in writing of the automatic renewal. Written notice shall be provided to the consumer no less than 30 days and no more than 60 days before the cancellation deadline pursuant to the automatic renewal clause. Such written notice shall disclose clearly and conspicuously: (i) that unless the consumer cancels the contract it will automatically renew; (ii) where the consumer can obtain details of the automatic renewal provision and cancellation procedure (for example, by contacting the business at a specified telephone number or address or by referring the contract). 815 ILCS 601/10 (b)
- “a person, firm…that makes an automatic renewal offer or continues service offer shall provide a toll-free telephone number, electronic mail address, a postal address if the seller directly bills the consumer, or another cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use mechanism for cancellation that shall be described in subsection (b). 815 ILCS 601/10(b.5). “A consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online must be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online, which may include a termination email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without additional information.”
Any violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act by Crain’s Chicago Business or another subscription-based entity may constitute an unlawful practice and affected individuals can contact an attorney to consider seeking compensation and justice.