BIG NEWS: If You Used, the Iowa Attorney General Has Your Back

NewspaperArchive ComplaintsIn May 2014, I wrote a blog post about my experience in trying to cancel my subscription, which morphed into a blog post about the shady way they compelled subscribers to donate to their mysterious charity. If you missed it, you can click here to read it. Be sure to read the comments as well.

The following month, the Cedar Rapids Gazette did a story on this issue. Click here to read the article. The article indicated that the Iowa Attorney General’s office was looking into the matter.

Guess what? They really did. Here’s the outcome, according to the same reporter who wrote the original story:

  • has signed an agreement to stop engaging in deceptive practices, which includes (at the very least) the pre-checked box that signs you up for a recurring donation to their charity
  • The company must pay up to $100,000 in refunds to people who unknowningly or unwillingly donated to the charity when they subscribed (i.e. many of us might actually get some money back)
  • Silently auto-renewing subscriptions are no longer allowed. They have to notify you when they renew. They also have to let you know when they increase the price.
  • The Terms of Service (TOS) must be made clearer, and customer service people have to be available to help customers who want to cancel.

You can read the newest article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette by clicking here. If you’re looking for a refund for your involuntary charitable donation, you’ll want to scroll to the bottom for instructions on how to get the ball rolling.

I’m impressed that the State of Iowa takes this sort of thing seriously and has taken action. Rock on, Attorney General for Iowa. (EDITED TO ADD: The State of Iowa has now collected the money, and you should contact them if you believe you’re eligible for a refund. Read more about this here.)

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