An auto renewal settlement has been reached over allegations by eHarmony users that the dating website duped them into a subscription to their services. The lawsuit ends with a $2.2 million auto renewal settlement for consumers who argued that they were denied the opportunity for a refund when their account automatically renewed with the popular dating site.
Auto Renewal Settlement Says Consumers Were Never Told About Terms
The primary issue in the lawsuit that led to the auto renewal settlement had to do with lack of appropriate disclosure of terms. The lawsuit alleged that eHarmony was involved in false advertising and never gave contracts to consumers that clearly outlined what the consumer was signing up for, causing confusion and breaking state laws.
According to laws, which have become more important in recent years as more consumers come forward with legal claims, companies must advise customers about the right to cancel and provide instructions about how to do so. The eHarmony customers in the auto renewal lawsuit alleged that they were never fully informed about the terms of eHarmony’s membership service.
In addition to making the $2.2 million payment, under the terms of the auto renewal statement, the company will have to change its sale practices and must disclose renewal terms to consumers clearly and conspicuously before they sign up for the service. eHarmony representatives says that they have already developed an internal task force to work towards a solution that keeps consumers informed about the service and their right to cancel their membership.
Both state and federal laws mandate that companies obtain “affirmative consent” from any consumer signing up for an auto renewal service. Another lawsuit that ended prior to the eHarmony auto renewal settlement required consumers to complete a check box regarding their affirmative consent to sign up for an auto renewal service.
Other lawsuits have claimed that companies have gone out of their way to hide the terms of auto renewal, making it difficult for consumers to make an informed decision about what they sign up for online.
Auto renewal lawsuits have popped up in recent months and years after customers look at their bank or credit card statements and notice recurring charges they don’t remember. Digging into the matter, consumers discover that the charges are for an auto renewing service like a gym membership or subscription box.
This model in an of itself is not illegal. Many companies successfully and lawfully use the subscription model to provide a regular service for consumers without the hassle of signing up often.
Where the legal issues come into play has to do with how the company operates that model. California laws especially have cracked down on the way in which companies allow consumers to sign up for auto renewal services.
Companies following the law and keeping an eye towards risk mitigation should be mindful of the dangers presented by auto renewal settlements and lawsuits. Consumers are well within their rights to file a legal claim if appropriate legal disclosure of the issues was never presented to them.
If you believe you have grounds to file a claim, talk to the lawyers at Bradley/Grombacher today by filling out the form on this page.
The auto renewal settlement case is People of the State of California v. eHarmony Inc., Case No. 17-cv-043314, filed in the Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Santa Cruz.
Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.