NJ Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit Against Discount Clubs
As a result of its participation in a multi-state settlement with Affinion, as well as its subsidiaries Trilegiant and Webloyalty, New Jersey will get about $250,000. The settlement resolves allegations the three companies misled consumers into signing up and paying for discount clubs and memberships. Affinion must also pay roughly $607,000 in direct restitution for NJ consumers.
Consumer complained that Affinion charged them for services without their authorization or knowledge and that once they learned they were being charged, they had trouble canceling or getting a refund. Others said they were confused about who Affinion even was because the company’s offers appeared to have come from Affinion’s marketing partners which are typically banks or retailers with which they’d done business.
According to acting NJ Attorney General John Hoffman, the multi-state probe uncovered Affinion’s marketing practices that misled consumers included a lack of clear and conspicuous disclosure about its identity, and the cost and ongoing nature of the charges.
Perhaps the most disturbing practice included checks. In a live check solicitation, consumers were sent what appeared to be a check via direct mail. If consumers endorsed and deposited the check, they unknowingly “authorized” Affinion to enroll them in membership programs, and to bill them each month indefinitely.