Potentially Illegal Auto-Renew Subscriptions

Automatic Renewal Laws Vary by State

Many states have laws on the books protecting businesses and consumers from predatory automatic renewal subscription models. Many of these laws require certain information about the automatically renewing subscription to be made clearly and conspicuously to the consumer and prohibit certain practices without the consumer’s express consent.

For example, the California Business and Professional Code requires that auto-renew subscription services clearly and conspicuously provide the consumer with information on the subscription’s cancellation policy, what the recurring charges are and if those charges will change at any point, minimum purchase obligations, etc.

Meanwhile, under Oregon’s Revised Statutes, a consumer’s credit card cannot be charged for automatic renewal without the consumer providing affirmative consent to a provided agreement containing the terms and conditions of the auto-renew service. And should there be any changes to the subscription service and terms, the consumer must receive clear and conspicuous notice of the change.

How to Know if State Law Has Been Violated

Understanding state laws surrounding automatic renewals can be challenging. However, if you feel something is off about how a company is doing business, it may be worth speaking with an attorney familiar with these types of cases. In particular, it is recommended that you talk with a law firm experienced in bringing consumer class action lawsuits nationwide, like Golomb Legal. This is because many of these companies operate across the country; as such, they may be based in a different state than where you live, and this can affect how you pursue your case.

Common issues that may violate state automatic renewal laws include:

  • Changing the terms and conditions of an auto-renewal subscription service without adequately notifying subscribers
  • Failing to provide the consumer with information regarding the length of the renewal term or inform them that the service is continuous
  • Failing to obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent to the subscription renewal terms and conditions before charging their card
  • Failing to provide clear and conspicuous notification to subscribers of changes to the subscription terms, conditions, cancellation policies, and/or procedures
  • Unclear, difficult, or predatory cancellation policies

Some state automatic renewal laws also cover subscription services with free trial periods. For example, in Oregon, a business offering a subscription service with a free trial must disclose to consumers how to cancel before they are charged for the service after the trial period ends.

The Case Against NFL Game Pass

Recently, NFL Game Pass (now called NFL+ Premium) has come under fire for violating state automatic renewal laws. Specifically, attorneys are investigating whether the NFL Game Pass auto-renew subscription model violates automatic renewal laws in California and Oregon.

In particular, because the NFL Game Pass only allows subscribers to cancel their membership during one month out of the year, attorneys and subscribers allege that the level of difficulty with which a subscriber can cancel is in violation of both states’ laws.

There have also been issues reported with the NFL Game Pass transition to their new NFL+ Premium redesign. A subscriber has alleged that the change was done without the clear consent of subscribers and that the cancellation process was complicated and difficult.

If it is determined that NFL Game Pass/NFL+ Premium has violated state automatic renewal laws, attorneys may bring a class action lawsuit against the NFL. If a lawsuit is brought and a settlement is reached, eligible parties may file a claim and receive compensation. However, this case is only under investigation at this point, and it has not yet been determined if a lawsuit will be filed.

Other similar auto-renew subscriptions under investigation include:

  • Happily – a date box subscription service
  • MyHeritage – a genealogy platform
  • Motorsport.com – a news subscription
  • The Athletic – a news subscription
  • Whoop – a workout app

If you have been struggling with an auto-renew subscription that violates state laws, reach out to one of our attorneys immediately to discuss your situation. You may have legal options you have yet to be aware of.