Lingerie company refunds nearly $700K for deceptive subscription service
Jun 16, 2023, 12:43 PM
(Photo from the Federal Trade Commission)
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Friday that an online lingerie apparel company must pay refunds for a total of $695,000 to around 5,700 people for deceptively enrolling them into a monthly subscription service.
For a five-year period between 2012 to 2017, the company Adore Me, which sells lingerie and other women’s clothes online, had a pre-checked box for all orders that enrolled purchasers into a “VIP Membership.” Those that did not see the option and uncheck it were charged the monthly membership fee of $39.95.
The money was placed in shoppers’ accounts to use for future purchases, “however, many Washingtonians did not know this money went into an account and accrued during the course of many months,” Ferguson said.
“Deceiving Washingtonians into subscriptions they don’t want cheats the consumer and hurts other businesses that play by the rules,” Ferguson said. “I am committed to ending these schemes. If this happened to you, contact my office so we can help.”
Ferguson said that this practice was a violation of the Consumer Protection Act and took them to court.
A Thurston County Superior Judge ordered Adore Me to pay restitution for users that were enrolled in the program. The Attorney General’s Office said that they will contact consumers that qualify for repayment.
Adore Me was also ordered to clearly display all fees, costs, and conditions of the VIP Membership program, refund all consumer cancellations requests, and cancel the recurring charges on any consumers who have 12 months of unused store credit due to the membership.
The Federal Trade Commission asserted the company made it hard to cancel memberships, including by limiting how consumers could submit cancellation requests, understaffing its customer service department, and putting consumers through drawn-out cancellation processes.
Victoria’s Secret bought Adore Me in January.
Many more Washingtonians are paying for unwanted subscriptions
According to a survey done by the Attorney General, 59% of Washingtonians may be enrolled in a plan they thought was a one-time purchase.
“This survey reveals that corporations are deceiving Washingtonians into paying for unwanted subscriptions – and consumers want this practice to end,” Ferguson said in a press release. “If you unintentionally signed up for a subscription service, contact my office so we can help.”
The survey showed that around 100,000 people may not have been able to cancel the subscription because they found it too difficult. Those pre-checked boxes may be one of the main culprits when it comes to unintentionally subscribing to services, with 70% of those surveyed thinking pre-checked boxes should be prohibited.
Attorney General Ferguson urges consumers to file a complaint with his office if they inadvertently signed up for a subscription while attempting to make a one-time purchase.