Washington Times 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 Washington Times subscription, contact The Lyon Firm to review.
Deceptive billing schemes have become a frequent complaint for consumers across the country. Many modern business models rely on auto renewal contracts and companies feed on this continual cash flow. These companies are quick to charge you for a service, but they may be overlooking consumer protection laws that make them liable for deceptive billing violations.
Consumers have alleged that when they subscribe to the Washington Times, the company automatically enrolls them in an auto-renewal program. If you think you have been deceptively entered into a Washington Times subscription, call for a free consultation.
Online automatic renewal programs are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA), which requires clear disclosures of contract terms, informed consent before a purchase, and an easy method to cancel the charges. Violations of this law are regarded as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Joe Lyon is a class action consumer fraud lawyer investigating Washington Times subscription auto-renewal claims, and other deceptive billing practice complaints for plaintiffs nationwide.
What Are the Requirements for Proper Auto-Renewal?
To be clear, companies can legally automatically renew subscriptions if they make all terms clear and obtain your written consent. Too often, however, companies rely on customer confusion, deliberately bypass these requirements and violate consumer fraud statutes.
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.
Washington Times Subscriptions: What are Automatic Renewal Law Violations?
There have been allegations that the Washington Times may not entirely comply with District of Colombia Automatic Renewal Protections, and may be liable for relevant violations.
- 28A-203 states that a person who sells a good or service to a consumer for an initial term of 12 months or more, which automatically renews for one month or more, shall notify the consumer by first-class mail, email, or another easily accessible form in accordance with the following:
- “The notice must be sent to the consumer no fewer than 30 days and no more than 60 days before the automatic renewal;
- Disclose clearly and conspicuously: (i) unless the consumer cancels the contract, it will automatically renew; (ii) the costs of goods or services for the term of renewal; and (iii) the deadline by which the consumer must cancel the automatic renewal contract; and (iv) the methods by which the automatic renewal provision and cancellation procedures, including by contacting the seller at a specified phone number, email address; and
- If the notice is provide by email, include active web links to allows the cancel the automatic renewal. Moreover, a violation shall render the automatic renewal provision void and terminate the contract. Because the contract is void, Defendant rendered a gift onto the consumer and the money should be returned to class members.”
Can I File a Lawsuit for Deceptive Billing Practices?
Consumers who have been unwittingly entered into an automatic renewal agreement should contact a consumer fraud attorney and consider taking legal action. The Lyon Firm believes that companies that mislead their customers into agreements should be held liable and compensate customers for any violations.
You may ask yourself the following questions before contacting an attorney:
- Are your subscription terms and conditions clear and conspicuous?
- Did the company clearly explain their automatic renewal program?
- Does the company have clear instructions on how to cancel a subscription?
- Did the company obtain your affirmative consent before charging you for the product or service?
- Did the company give you proper notice (30-60 days) before your subscription contract was renewed?
Multiple states have updated consumer protection laws that prohibit companies from automatically renewing subscriptions without obtaining proper consent or clearly explaining the terms and conditions of the contract. Federal laws also protect consumers. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), businesses must take proper steps to ensure that charges to customers’ credit cards and accounts are authorized.
Any violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act by the Washington Times or another subscription-based entity may constitute an unlawful practice and affected individuals can contact an attorney to consider seeking compensation and justice.