Automatic Subscription Renewal Law
California purchases are regulated by the automatic subscription renewal law that was enacted in 2010. This law covers the purchase of any consumer product that automatically attempts to charge your card after a period of time (your subscription term). Learn more about the law and what you can do if your rights are violated.
Magazines Subscriptions, Book Subscriptions, Music Subscriptions, Food Subscriptions, Cosmetic Subscriptions, Clothes/Apparel Subscriptions, and other Recurring Subscriptions
In 2010, California enacted an Automatic Renewal Law (“ARL”) (California Business and Professions Code §§ 17600-17606). This law prohibits companies from automatically charging your credit card, debit card, or third party account (Paypal, Amazon payments, etc.) without first obtaining your consent after your initial subscription term has ended.
So how does this apply to you?
You may have signed up for a contract to receive magazines, books, online music streaming, or another type of subscription to either receive goods or services for a period of time (like a year). This company may have even provided a free trial. After your subscription period (or free trial) ends, some companies automatically renew your subscription and continue charging you without your authorization and your explicit consent. This behavior is illegal.
What are my rights?
- The company must provide you with the renewal terms in a “clear and conspicuous” manner (this means drawing attention to the terms).
- The company must provide you with their cancellation policy.
- The company must provide you information regarding how to cancel (toll-free number, electronic mail address, postal address, or another cost-effective and timely mechanism allowing for cancellation).
I was charged for an automatic renewal. What can I do?
You have the right to recover your damages for an illegal automatic renewal. Please contact us for a free consultation. Call 619-272-4242 to discuss your situation.
Automatic Subscription Renewal Law:
BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS CODE
17600. It is the intent of the Legislature to end the practice of
ongoing charging of consumer credit or debit cards or third party
payment accounts without the consumers’ explicit consent for ongoing
shipments of a product or ongoing deliveries of service.
17601. For the purposes of this article, the following definitions
(a) “Automatic renewal” means a plan or arrangement in which a
paid subscription or purchasing agreement is automatically renewed at
the end of a definite term for a subsequent term.
(b) “Automatic renewal offer terms” means the following clear and
(1) That the subscription or purchasing agreement will continue
until the consumer cancels.
(2) The description of the cancellation policy that applies to the
(3) The recurring charges that will be charged to the consumer’s
credit or debit card or payment account with a third party as part of
the automatic renewal plan or arrangement, and that the amount of
the charge may change, if that is the case, and the amount to which
the charge will change, if known.
(4) The length of the automatic renewal term or that the service
is continuous, unless the length of the term is chosen by the
(5) The minimum purchase obligation, if any.
(c) “Clear and conspicuous” or “clearly and conspicuously” means
in larger type than the surrounding text, or in contrasting type,
font, or color to the surrounding text of the same size, or set off
from the surrounding text of the same size by symbols or other marks,
in a manner that clearly calls attention to the language. In the
case of an audio disclosure, “clear and conspicuous” and “clearly and
conspicuously” means in a volume and cadence sufficient to be
readily audible and understandable.
(d) “Consumer” means any individual who seeks or acquires, by
purchase or lease, any goods, services, money, or credit for
personal, family, or household purposes.
(e) “Continuous service” means a plan or arrangement in which a
subscription or purchasing agreement continues until the consumer
cancels the service.
17602. (a) It shall be unlawful for any business making an
automatic renewal or continuous service offer to a consumer in this
state to do any of the following:
(1) Fail to present the automatic renewal offer terms or
continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner
before the subscription or purchasing agreement is fulfilled and in
visual proximity, or in the case of an offer conveyed by voice, in
temporal proximity, to the request for consent to the offer.
(2) Charge the consumer’s credit or debit card or the consumer’s
account with a third party for an automatic renewal or continuous
service without first obtaining the consumer’s affirmative consent to
the agreement containing the automatic renewal offer terms or
continuous service offer terms.
(3) Fail to provide an acknowledgment that includes the automatic
renewal or continuous service offer terms, cancellation policy, and
information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of
being retained by the consumer. If the offer includes a free trial,
the business shall also disclose in the acknowledgment how to cancel
and allow the consumer to cancel before the consumer pays for the
goods or services.
(b) A business making automatic renewal or continuous service
offers shall provide a toll-free telephone number, electronic mail
address, a postal address only when the seller directly bills the
consumer, or another cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use
mechanism for cancellation that shall be described in the
acknowledgment specified in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a).
(c) In the case of a material change in the terms of the automatic
renewal or continuous service offer that has been accepted by a
consumer in this state, the business shall provide the consumer with
a clear and conspicuous notice of the material change and provide
information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of
being retained by the consumer.
(d) The requirements of this article shall apply only prior to the
completion of the initial order for the automatic renewal or
continuous service, except as follows:
(1) The requirement in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) may be
fulfilled after completion of the initial order.
(2) The requirement in subdivision (c) shall be fulfilled prior to
implementation of the material change.
17603. In any case in which a business sends any goods, wares,
merchandise, or products to a consumer, under a continuous service
agreement or automatic renewal of a purchase, without first obtaining
the consumer’s affirmative consent as described in Section 17602,
the goods, wares, merchandise, or products shall for all purposes be
deemed an unconditional gift to the consumer, who may use or dispose
of the same in any manner he or she sees fit without any obligation
whatsoever on the consumer’s part to the business, including, but not
limited to, bearing the cost of, or responsibility for, shipping any
goods, wares, merchandise, or products to the business.
17604. (a) Notwithstanding Section 17534, a violation of this
article shall not be a crime. However, all available civil remedies
that apply to a violation of this article may be employed.
(b) If a business complies with the provisions of this article in
good faith, it shall not be subject to civil remedies.
17605. The following are exempt from the requirements of this
(a) Any service provided by a business or its affiliate where
either the business or its affiliate is doing business pursuant to a
franchise issued by a political subdivision of the state or a
license, franchise, certificate, or other authorization issued by the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
(b) Any service provided by a business or its affiliate where
either the business or its affiliate is regulated by the CPUC, the
Federal Communications Commission, or the Federal Energy Regulatory
(c) Any entity regulated by the Department of Insurance.
(d) Alarm company operators, as defined in Section 7590.2, and
regulated pursuant to Chapter 11.6 (commencing with Section 7590) of
(e) A bank, bank holding company, or the subsidiary or affiliate
of either, or a credit union or other financial institution, licensed
under state or federal law.
(f) Service contract sellers and service contract administrators
regulated by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair pursuant
to Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 9855) of Chapter 20 of