For release on February 4, 2019
Jennifer Deng, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
COMPANY MARKETING PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS PAYS
UP TO $8.5 MILLION IN CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWSUIT
A large California company that marketed acne treatment care and hair products will pay up to $8.5 million to clear up a consumer protection lawsuit that it misled customers into paying more than they expected.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, as part of the California Automatic Renewal Task Force, alleged that Guthy-Renker L.L.C. did not properly disclose automatic charges resulting from Wen hair care products and ProActiv acne prevention purchases made on their websites.
As part of its settlement, the El Segundo-based marketing company will pay $1.2 million in penalties and up to $7.3 million in restitution to customers whose payments were automatically renewed without their consent.
“We urge companies to make absolutely sure their online customers know exactly when they are signing up for automated payments,” prosecutor Jennifer Deng said. “We urge consumers to make absolutely sure they read the fine print before buying things online.”
Under California law, online businesses must clearly and conspicuously disclose all automatic renewal charges and terms and get affirmative consent of those recurring charges from the consumer.
The settlement applies only to Guthy-Renker, and not to other entities selling Wen or ProActiv products.
Guthy-Renker cooperated with the investigation. The company has promised to more clearly display its automatic payment renewal policy on its website and will send out restitution notices to affected customers.
The California Automatic Renewal Task Force also includes the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and the city of Santa Monica.
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