Best Buy Charges Customers for Unwanted Monthly Subscription Plans, Class Action Alleges
by Erin Shaak
Karim v. Best Buy Co., Inc.
Filed: August 26, 2022 ◆§ 3:22-cv-04909
A class action alleges Best Buy has enrolled customers in automatically renewing subscriptions without providing certain disclosures or an easy way to cancel.
California Business and Professions Code California Automatic Renewal Law California Consumers Legal Remedies Act
A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Best Buy has enrolled customers in automatically renewing subscriptions without providing certain disclosures or an easy way to cancel.
The 17-page lawsuit claims that Best Buy has run afoul of the California Automatic Renewal Law by “aggressively and sometimes deceptively” marketing internet security protection plans and other auto-renewal services in a way that causes customers to be charged monthly fees for difficult-to-cancel subscriptions they never intended to sign up for.
“Best Buy has described these service offerings as ‘FREE,’ without disclosing that the service will automatically convert into a paid, auto-renewing subscription at a later date unless the consumer cancels or takes other affirmative action, and without sending an email or other communication, before the auto-renewal of the service is imposed, to alert consumers that they are about to be charged for such renewal,” the complaint summarizes. “Additionally, Best Buy has made it difficult for consumers to cancel the unwanted subscriptions and the accompanying unauthorized charges.”
The plaintiff, an Oakland, California resident, says he was unwittingly enrolled in a free three-month subscription to Trend Micro internet security software after purchasing a television from Best Buy in February 2020. The man claims he was ultimately charged a total of $44.85 in monthly fees for “an anti-virus program he never wanted or intended to use and, indeed, had never even downloaded.”
According to the case, the plaintiff never knowingly took action to purchase an auto-renewing subscription to Trend Micro internet security software, yet three days after purchasing his TV, he received an email in which the retailer thanked him for his purchase of “Trend Micro Internet Security + Antivirus TTS” and another monthly membership.
Per the complaint, Best Buy failed to satisfy the California Automatic Renewal Law in that it did not present the automatic renewal terms for the Trend Micro software “in a clear and conspicuous manner” before the purchase agreement was executed.
Moreover, the suit says the email sent to the plaintiff did not include an acknowledgment consisting of the automatic renewal offer terms as required by California law. Per the case, the email did not:
- State the terms in a clear and conspicuous manner that “clearly calls attention to the language”;
- Inform the plaintiff of all the terms of the offer, including, for example, that he would be charged $2.99 for Trend Micro; and
- Inform him of how to cancel before being charged for the service in May 2020.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that Best Buy failed to provide an exclusively online way to cancel the Trend Micro subscription. Indeed, although the plaintiff attempted to cancel on bestbuy.com after discovering the first $2.99 charge to his credit card for the Trend Micro service, he was unable to do so, the suit says.
Per the case, Best Buy continued to charge the plaintiff a monthly $2.99 fee through July 2021 for a service that the man “did not use and did not want.” The plaintiff says he ultimately placed a phone call to Best Buy’s customer support line and was able to cancel his membership after having paid a recurring monthly fee for 15 months.
The lawsuit looks to represent California consumers who were charged by Best Buy for an auto-renewing subscription for any product or service in connection with a purchase made on the retailer’s website between July 11, 2018 and the date of judgment in the case.
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