A class action lawsuit accusing Apple Inc. of automatically renewing certain “In-App Subscriptions” on consumers’ iPhones, iPads and Apple TV without their permission is moving forward after a federal judge granted class certification in April.
The Apple auto-renew lawsuit covers all California residents who purchased a third-party automatically renewing app subscription through iTunes from December 1, 2010 to September 13, 2016.
Plaintiffs in the newly certified Apple auto-renew lawsuit claim that Apple continues to offer California consumers digital content (including magazines, newspapers, periodicals, and other digital content) that automatically renews in violation of California law.
Two of the plaintiffs say they were charged a $7.99 monthly fee for Hulu Plus after agreeing to a one-week free subscription on their Apple TV. Another plaintiff alleges she purchased a one-year subscription to Women’s Health Magazine through her iTunes account that automatically renewed without her knowledge, leading to charges she did not agree to.
The plaintiffs say Apple refused to issue a refund for the auto-renew fees and failed to present the automatic renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner.
California law requires businesses that make use of any automatic renewal terms to make clear and conspicuous disclosures about the fact that they are enrolling in such a program and provide easy ways for consumers to cancel.
The company has responded to the Apple auto-renew lawsuit by arguing they have no obligation to disclose details about subscription services for third-party apps and when they will be renewed.
Apple claims that they did meet the disclosure requirements by informing consumers that the subscriptions would auto renew and that even after the charges were made, no refund attempts were made against the company by the plaintiffs.
Other Auto-Renew Lawsuits Being Filed
Auto renewal charges have been receiving various news attention lately due to consumers who raise allegations that these are a violation of consumer protection regulations.
California has some of the strictest laws and regulations for governing automatic renewal clauses, but at least 15 other states have also enacted legislation that governs the use of an automatic renewal clause as part of a business model. These are in addition to federal regulations specified under the Federal Trade Commissions Act, which requires companies to disclose their auto renewal clause policies in a clear and conspicuous manner.
In addition to the Apple auto-renew lawsuit, class action lawsuits have been filed against Spotify, SiriusXM, Blue Apron and Tinder, where customers were charged for the service after signing up for a free trial. Plaintiffs in these auto-renewal lawsuits allege they did not see clear language defining the terms of the free trial, and were automatically charged a renewal fee without providing affirmative consent.
It’s not just the big companies being named in auto-renew lawsuit and class action lawsuit filings.
Throughout California, big and small companies are exposed to risks in the form of an auto-renew lawsuit if they do not clearly provide disclosure materials and easy ways for someone to know how to cancel the service. Otherwise, it’s not clear to consumers what they are signing up for and the shock of seeing an auto-renew charge on their credit card bill or bank statement can be alarming. More consumers are considering their grounds for participating in an auto-renewal lawsuit against an offending company.
If you believe a company may have violated automatic renewal laws, fill out the form on this page for a FREE case evaluation. The attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher will review your claims and contact you for a free, no-obligation consultation if they believe you have grounds to file an auto-renewal lawsuit or join a class action lawsuit.