The Wine Institute recently held a webinar to warn members that professional litigators are targeting wineries with wine clubs who fail to meet the requirements of the Automatic Renewal laws. (If you are a Wine Institute member, log into the member’s area for a replay of this webinar.) Remember the ADA problem a few years ago? This is a similar situation, whereby attorneys are taking advantage of obscure and lesser-known laws by targeting small businesses that do not adhere. They know that small businesses do not have the resources to fight a lengthy battle. They count on settling for an amount that is just enough to be painful; however not enough to fight.
The law I’m referring to is in regards to the automatic renewal laws which apply to your wine club membership. This issue is so obscure that the only article I found was published by the Santa Monica Daily Press! Thanks to the Wine Industry Advisor for mentioning this article. Click here to READ ARTICLE.
As I mentioned, this is not a new issue. In 2015 several regional district attorney offices formed The California Automatic Renewal Task Force (CART). That group met with the California Alcohol Beverage (ABC) and they issued an advisory. Here are the 4 key features that you must follow to be in compliance:
- Disclosure – Disclose automatic renewal offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner (larger font, contrasting font or another way to call attention to the terms)
- Consent – Obtain affirmative consent before charging the consumer (ex: a checkbox)
- Acknowledgment – Sorry, this does not translate to standard English
- Cancellation – Provide an easy, user-friendly method for cancellation; also, if the initial signup was done online, members must be able to cancel online
For the full advisory CLICK HERE
If you are not in California, be advised that the Federal statutes are similar. There are penalties at the Federal level as well.
Please consult with your attorney to confirm that you are in compliance with all features of these laws. We all know how easy it is to fall prey to a subscription service that we did not intend to pay for. These rules are not difficult to follow, so I urge you…don’t be one of those services.
One more thing…if you are not a member of The Wine Institute, consider joining! They are great advocates for the wine industry. They have spearheaded the agenda of growing the list of states where we are able to ship wine directly to customers.
Links mentioned in this post
Wine Institute https://wineinstitute.org/
Alcohol Beverage Control advisory on Club Renewals https://www.abc.ca.gov/club-renewals/
Santa Monica Daily Press article https://www.smdp.com/wine-settlement-is-latest-success-for-consumer-protection-law/186738
Wine Industry Adviser https://wineindustryadvisor.com