(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong and a coalition of 26 state attorneys general submitted comments in support of Federal Trade Commission amendments to the Negative Option Rule protecting consumers from deceptive auto-renewal programs.
Negative options are marketing methods for companies to enroll consumers in subscriptions, continuity plans and programs, automatic renewals, and other reoccurring actions. These plans and programs do not require consent for each attached reoccurring charge; rather, in some cases, a consumer’s silence is consent.
Amendments to the existing Negative Option Rule would provide more protection to consumers, clarifying terms at enrollment, offering easy and immediate cancellation options, and reminders of upcoming charges.
“My office has numerous complaints from consumers unwittingly lured into expensive subscriptions that they cannot cancel. It’s far too easy right now for sellers to bury fine print and trick consumers into these unwanted renewals and recurring charges. That shouldn’t be. The FTC has proposed a straightforward rule—sellers need to obtain clear consent before charging consumers. I fully support these pro-consumer reforms,” said Attorney General Tong.
The comment letter was filed on June 23 in response to an FTC notice of proposed rulemaking. In the notice, the FTC sought comment on the following proposed amendments:
• Applying the Rule to all forms of negative option marketing;
• Prohibiting misrepresentations of any material fact regarding the entire agreement;
• Requiring clear and conspicuous disclosures of certain information before obtaining consumer’s billing information;
• Requiring sellers to obtain express informed consent before charging consumers;
• Requiring sellers to provide a simple mechanism for consumer to cancel a negative option subscription; and
• Requiring sellers to provide reminders concerning the frequency and amount of charges, and the means to cancel.