Online subscription services are prevalent in the everyday consumer’s life; and consumers may feel like it is difficult to cancel or stop the subscription from renewing every month and charging the consumer time and time again.
Under Georgia’s Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act (HB 528 – Enacted in 2023), it is unlawful for online subscription services to create unnecessary barriers for consumers’ cancellation of automatic renewal programs or continual subscription services. To prohibit these practices, this law requires any business that allows a consumer to accept an automatically renewed subscription service to provide an online method of cancellation that includes: (1) a clear and conspicuous link to cancellation or (2) a cancellation email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without further explanation. Businesses may require consumers to provide information to authenticate their account to show that they are indeed the accountholder.
Further, HB 528 makes it illegal, with some exceptions, for any Georgia business to fail to provide the cancellation methods described above. The law also puts the responsibility on the business to thoroughly inform the consumer of the terms and conditions of the subscription service prior to, or within three days of, the consumer being charged for the service. Businesses must make it clear that the service will be automatically renewed if the consumer does not cancel the service and state the length and any additional terms of the renewal period. The notice shall also include the business’s contact information (to allow the consumer to contact someone to cancel the service), and if sent electronically, the business should provide a reasonable cancellation method, such as a link.
Entities Exempt from the Law include:
- Any service provided by a business or its affiliate when either the business or its affiliate is doing business as a franchise issued by a political subdivision of this state.
- Any service provided by a business or its affiliate when either the business or its affiliate is regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Federal Communications Commission, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
- Any entity regulated by the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.
- Any financial institution as defined in Code Section 7-1-4 or any subsidiary or affiliate of such institution, or any bank holding company as defined in Code 149 Section 7-1-605.
- Any foreign bank maintaining a branch or agency licensed under federal law or under 151 the laws of any state of the United States.
If you believe that you have agreed to an automatic renewal-based subscription service that does not comply with Georgia’s Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act, please contact the Georgia Attorney General’s Office (Consumer Protection Division). You can do this by phone or through filing an online complaint.