It’s been a busy year in consumer protection law and during this holiday season, we’re taking stock of the past year and looking ahead to what’s next. In 2018, we saw many class actions related to pricing practices, scrutiny of Made in USA claims, continued growth in popularity and the evolution of influencers (
California’s updated automatic renewal law (ARL) took effect on July 1, 2018. We covered these changes in a 2017 client alert, but a reminder is important here because the new law is now “live” and we expect to see more enforcement efforts for alleged noncompliance with the law.
The ARL sets rigid rules about transparency for subscription-based business models where the subscription is automatically renewed, and the subscriber is charged, on a recurring basis (e.g., monthly for a video-on-demand service or beer-of-the-month club). Specifically, such businesses must (1) disclose the automatic renewal offer terms clearly and conspicuously; (2) obtain affirmative consent from the consumer before charging his/her payment method; (3) provide the consumer with an acknowledgement of the automatic renewal terms and cancellation policy in a manner that can be retained for their records (e.g., an email receipt); and (4) notify consumers of any material changes to the automatic renewal terms. The recent changes in the law also now (5) require an online cancellation option for automatic renewal offers that the consumer signed up for online, and (6) clarify that the business must clearly and conspicuously disclose the price that will be charged after a free trial period ends and how and when to cancel before such charge occurs.…