Time Inc. Settles Subscription Probe with $8.8 million Settlement
Time will pay $4.5 million to cover investigative costs, which will be divided by the 23 states, and anticipates having to pay what could amount to $4.3 million in customer claims.
Other complaints centered around the publisher’s institution of an automatic renewal method that required consumers to "affirmatively cancel at the end of the subscription period to avoid being billed for a renewed subscription."
"It doesn’t surprise me at all," said Dan Capell of Capell’s Circulation Report. "In fact, if there was anything they could come after publishing for, continuous service would have been next on my list." He added that even if the terms of continuous service had been specified on the statements, consumers could easily say they were confused.
No definitive list of the magazines involved was given, but Time, People, Sports Illustrated, This Old House, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune and Popular Science were mentioned in New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s release.
Time says it has already adjusted its practices to allow for clearer disclosure of automatic renewal subscriptions.