PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A class-action lawsuit was filed against YouTube and Google on behalf of two Oregon men, claiming the defendants were engaging in an “illegal automatic renewal scheme” with respect to their subscription plans.
The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court in Portland, seeks at least $5 million or “punitive damages to be determined by the court and/or jury.” The plaintiffs also requested an order declaring the defendants’ conduct violated specific statutes and common laws, along with reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses with the cost of the suit.
According to the complaint, when consumers sign up for the auto-renewal membership programs, YouTube and Google enroll consumers in a program that automatically renews the subscriptions from month-to-month or year-to-year and results in monthly or annual chargers to the person’s credit card, debit card or third-party payment account.
In doing so, added the document, the defendants fail to provide the requisite disclosures and authorizations required to be made to Oregon consumers under Oregon’s Automatic Renewal Law, which is in direct violation of Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
The lawsuit says Oregon law requires online retailers — who offer automatically renewing subscriptions to Oregon consumers — must provide the complete automatic renewal offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner and in visual proximity to the request for consent prior to the purchase.
The suit says they must also obtain consumers’ affirmative consent to the purchase prior to charging their payment methods in connection with the subscriptions and provide an acknowledgement that includes the automatic renewal offer terms and identifies a cost-effective, timely and easy-to-use mechanism for consumers to cancel their subscriptions.
“Defendants also make it exceedingly difficult and unnecessarily confusing for consumers to cancel their (auto-renewal membership programs),” the document stated.
The complain lists Victor Walkingeagle from Portland as one plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit.
Walkingeagle said he signed up for a free trial of the defendants’ monthly YouTube Music subscription from the defendants’ website while in Oregon.
After providing his debit card information, Walkingeagle said the defendants did not disclose to him all the “required” automatic renewal offer terms associated with the subscription program or obtain his affirmative consent to those terms. Walkingeagle has not been able to cancel his subscription “due to the defendants’ confusing cancellation policy.”
The complaint says he’s still enrolled in and continues to receive monthly renewal charges for his subscription to this day, “despite the fact that he does not want to remain subscribed or pay any further renewal fees.”
Nathan Briggs of Klamath Falls is also listed as a plaintiff in the case, which was a similar case as Walkingeagle.
However, the class-action lawsuit said Briggs was only able to stop the automatic payment by cancelling his debit card through his bank.
KOIN 6 News reached out to Google and YouTube for comment but did not hear back as of this writing.