Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2013 > AG Announces $30 Million Multistate Settlement with Discount Club Marketer

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

AG Announces $30 Million Multistate Settlement with Discount Club Marketer

Imagine discovering monthly charges on your credit card statement for a membership you don’t recall signing up for — and the frustration of trying to deal with those charges. That was the experience of many consumers who filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office regarding charges to their credit cards or bank accounts for Affinion, Trilegiant and/or Webloyalty memberships.

Connecticut-based Affinion and its subsidiaries, Trilegiant and Webloyalty, agreed to pay more than $30 million to 47 states, including Ohio, to settle allegations that they misled consumers into enrolling in discount clubs and memberships. More than $19 million in consumer refunds will be available throughout the nation as a result of the settlement.
Affinion runs discount clubs and membership programs offering credit monitoring, roadside assistance, discount travel, and other services. It uses a practice called “negative option marketing,” in which it charges consumers a monthly fee until the consumer affirmatively cancels. It also markets programs through “marketing partners” — well-known banks and retailers that present the programs to consumers, often immediately after the consumer has made a transaction with that bank or retailer.
Consumers complained that Affinion charged them without authorization or that they had trouble canceling or getting a refund from Affinion. Some were confused about Affinion’s identity because the offers appeared to come from Affinion’s marketing partners rather than Affinion itself.
The states found that Affinion did not clearly and conspicuously disclose its identity or the cost and nature of its charges to consumers. Under the settlement, Affinion agrees to provide consumers with clearer information about its memberships and improve its cancellation policies.
Ohio’s share of the settlement is $450,000, which will be paid into the Consumer Protection Enforcement Fund. Additionally, Affinion is establishing a fund of more than $19 million to provide refunds to consumers who received unauthorized charges for Affinion’s programs. Ohio consumers should check their credit card and bank account statements for the names of Affinion’s affected membership programs.
Consumers who sign up for a “free” 30-day trial offer for a service or product should beware of a process — called a negative option — in which the consumer is required to affirmatively cancel within the 30-day trial period or be charged a continuing monthly fee.
Those who believe they were improperly charged by Affinion, Trilegiant, or Webloyalty should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.