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Conde Nast Automatic Renewal of Magazines California Class Action

Cover of Vogue Magazine Featuring Rihanna

Now that people pay for so many things through electronic means, it’s become easy for companies simply charge them again for things they never consented to. The complaint for this class action alleges that Conde Nast Entertainment, LLC charges consumers’ credit or debit cards for automatic renewal or continuous service subscriptions without first getting the consumers’ affirmative consent. 

The class for this action is all individuals in California who, within the statute of limitations, were enrolled by Conde Nast in an automatic renewal or continuous service program.

Conde Nast is a large magazine publisher, offering such publications as Vogue, Bon Appetit, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, The New Yorker, Allure, GQ, and Architectural Digest. Years ago, payments for subscriptions were made by check or money order. This meant that when subscriptions ended, the magazine company had to ask consumers whether they wanted to continue, and, if so, it had to obtain the requisite payment from them. 

However, in the 1990s, some companies began operating off of a “negative option” model. This meant that if customers did not did take action to cancel a subscription or service agreement, the company would charge them for additional subscriptions.

California now has an Automatic Renewal Law (ARL) governing such subscriptions and the steps companies must take to ensure that consumers consent to them. Business making automatic renewals offers to customers in California must therefore do several things:

  • They must present the auto renewal or continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner before the agreement is fulfilled, in visual proximity to the request for consent to the offer.
  • Before charging a consumer’s credit or debit card or account, they must obtain the customer’s affirmative consent to the agreement containing the auto renewal or continuous service offer terms.
  • They must provide an acknowledgement that include the auto renewal or continuous service offer terms, the cancellation policy, and information about how to cancel, in a form that the customer can easily retain. 

The complaint alleges that Conde Nast did not do any of these things in the case of the two plaintiffs in this case. 

In July 2017, plaintiff Saul Granillo answered an online offer for six issues of Vogue for $6. He used his debit card for the order, and in November was charged $21.99 for additional issues, without his authorization.

In August 2017, Jennifer Fyte used a credit card to pay for a one-year subscription to Vanity Fair for $5. Sometime around September 2018, her credit card showed a charge for $12 to continue the subscription. She had not authorized the charge.

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