NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield has introduced new legislation that will help protect New Yorkers from the consequences of their failed New Year’s Resolutions. The bill will prevent businesses such as gyms from automatically renewing subscriptions or memberships without first obtaining affirmative consent from the customer. This bill will protect New Yorkers from unwittingly being charged for products and services they do not want.
“It’s only natural to feel optimistic at the beginning of a new year,” Greenfield said. “That’s why you do things around that time such as joining gyms and telling yourself that you’re going to start working out every day. Then by the middle of February, that optimism sometimes begins to fade as reality sets in. It’s unfortunate that not everyone can always keep all their resolutions, but that doesn’t mean that New Yorkers should have to keep paying forever for something they don’t really need or want.”
Greenfield’s law would require businesses to obtain affirmative consent from consumers at least one time per 12-month period in any contract for a product or service containing periodic, automatic payments continuing for more than one year. Customers could provide the required consent by replying to an email, checking a box on a webpage, or signing a form to indicate acceptance of the continued charges; provided in all cases that the consent to continued charges is clearly labeled. Businesses that violate this new rule would be subject to a $200 civil fine, as well as a penalty payable to the wronged customer in the amount of the annual value of the contract and an additional penalty of up to $250.
“Whether it’s your gym membership, your magazine subscription, your streaming movie service or anything else that charges on a recurring basis, customers have the right to know how much they are being charged, as well as what product or service they are paying for,” Greenfield said. “By requiring businesses to obtain affirmative consent before renewing such charges, we will save consumers money that they may not even be aware they are spending!”
“Automatically renewing memberships and subscriptions can be a convenience, but they can also be abused,” Greenfield said. “By passing this bill, we will provide an additional layer of protection for customers in New York, so that people know what they are paying for. No one should have to be haunted by the ghosts of their failed New Year’s resolutions.”