May 25, 2012 in Region

RealNetworks settles Washington lawsuit

Associated Press

OLYMPIA – Digital media provider RealNetworks will pay a $2.4 million settlement because of free trial subscriptions that resulted in unwanted monthly charges to customers, Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna announced.

The lawsuit settlement was filed Thursday morning in King County Superior Court in Seattle. McKenna said that over the past seven years his office and the Better Business Bureau received more than 500 complaints against RealNetworks from customers across the country alleging charges on their credit cards for subscriptions for television, sports or game content that they never ordered.

McKenna said “deceptive” prechecked boxes misled customers into signing up for free trials that converted into paid subscriptions.

The company will pay $2 million in restitution to customers and $400,000 in attorneys’ fees. Other requirements of the settlement include: ending the use of prechecked boxes to obtain consent from consumers to buy services; providing an online method of cancellation for consumers to cancel subscriptions easily; and canceling subscriptions within two days of a request.

Consumers who were unknowingly signed up using prechecked boxes between January 2007 and December 2009 will receive a postcard indicating they are eligible for a refund. Additionally, consumers may visit realnetworksrestitution .com to submit a claim.

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