People may not mind making an occasional charitable donation. But the complaint for this class action alleges that Rite Aid used a misleading opt-in method to take donations for its foundation from customers, when the customers had no idea they were donating anything.
The class for this action is all persons in California who made a purchase at Rite Aid and had the amount of their purchase rounded up to the whole dollar after they were enrolled in the Rite Aid Foundation KidsCents program, or a similar program, between March 28, 2015 and March 28, 2019. There is a also a subclass of persons in the above class who are age 65 or older.
Plaintiff Katherin Martinez bought something at a Rite Aid store in December 2018. At some time during the checkout process, the complaint claims, Martinez was opted into the Rite Aid Foundation’s KidsCents program. The program rounds Martinez’s purchases up and contributes the extra change to the Foundation. Martinez claims that the did not knowingly give her consent to these extra charges. The complaint says it believes the extra charges will continue until Martinez somehow manages to opt out.
The contributions may seem like a nice idea, but the complaint alleges that before the contribution is made, Rite Aid takes a percentage of the collection for itself.
Rite Aid claims that it obtains consent via a prompt when customers are checking out. But the complaint quotes a Rite Aid cashier as saying, “I can tell you it’s really easy to miss the ‘Kidcents’ donation prompt …. Also, they’ll sometimes think it’s part of their credit card purchase.”
The complaint says, “Any quick review of online comments regarding [t]his campaign by Rite Aid [sic], it is apparent that a majority of consumers are opted into the KidsCents program without knowingly consenting to such program.” Not only that; the donations are charged to a Wellness card which is tied to a telephone number. Any person who has the telephone number can opt the cardholder into the program, “into perpetuity,” and from then on, the donation is made anytime anyone uses the card.
“Since 2014,” the complaint says, “consumer have been complaining to Rite Aid that its method of opt[ing]-in is misleading …. One complaint even notifies Rite Aid that her elderly grandmother, who has poor vision, was opted into this program despite never providing consent.”
The complaint claims that Rite Aid has engaged in an unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practice under California law and committed conversion.