Video content provider Starz was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging its supposed free 7-day trial violates New York automatic renewal law.
The Starz free trial is difficult to cancel, alleges the plaintiff. Additionally, the service is automatically renewed on a monthly basis. The plaintiff says her credit card was charged by the company without prior notification.
According to the lawsuit, consumers sign-up for the Starz free trial online using a quick two-step process. Starz never requires them to sign a contract or knowingly consent to use their service after the free trial, alleges the plaintiff. However, payment information is required as well as an account.
After signing up for the Starz free trial, the lawsuit alleges that consumers are sent an email notifying them that they will be charged $8.99 when the 7-day trial ends. The plaintiff says she attempted to cancel her Starz free trial after only two days, but Starz continued to charge her $8.99 a month.
The plaintiff points to numerous complaints from other consumers who experienced the same problems trying to cancel the Starz free trial. Consumers describe long wait times to call the company and round-about discussions with customer service reps that do not result in a refund.
The plaintiff seeks to represent consumers who signed up for the Starz free trial and found it impossible or at least very difficult to cancel the auto renewal subscription service. She is also seeking damages on behalf of herself and the Class.
Free Trials and Automatic Renewals
As use of the internet increases, companies and consumers are turning to automatic renewals for goods and services at a faster rate. While companies attempt to lure customers with free goods and services, consumers complain that they are being hit with recurring charges after the free trial ends. Further, say consumers, unscrupulous companies make it extremely difficult if not impossible to cancel the subscription.
In addition to taking steps to protect themselves, like monitoring credit card statements and bank accounts, consumers are protected in some states by automatic renewal laws. Under these state laws, companies must meet a set of requirements if they want to offer goods and services that automatically renew.
Some state laws require cancellation terms to be easy and provided to consumers prior to signing up for the automatic renewal. Laws may also require companies to notify consumers prior to charging them a renewal fee.
If a phone call or email does not stop an automatic renewal charge, the Federal Trade Commission recommends disputing that charge and making a complaint against the company.
The Starz Free Trial Lawsuit is Roberts v. Starz Entertainment LLC, Case No. 1:17-cv-09452, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Despite these new laws, consumers still struggle with unwanted auto-renewal charges. If you have been hit with an automatic renewal charge, contact the attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher to help evaluate your claim.
Note: Bradley/Grombacher is not representing the plaintiff in this lawsuit.