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October 23, 2014

Amazon Agrees to Refund 1,100 Iowa Amazon Prime Customers

Iowans enrolled by online retailer for unused Amazon Prime memberships will receive refunds or credits

(DES MOINES, Iowa) More than one thousand Iowa consumers charged for unused Amazon Prime memberships through online retailer Amazon.com will receive refunds or credits, under an agreement with Attorney General Tom Miller.

Amazon.com Inc. and Amazon Services LLC have agreed to provide $122,000 in refunds and credits to about 1,100 Amazon Prime members in Iowa whose unused memberships may indicate they did not know they had been enrolled.

Amazon Prime, with an annual $99 membership fee, offers members shipping discounts, streaming video, music content and electronic book downloads.

Free Shipping Promotion Led to Membership Charges
Amazon had promoted its Prime memberships by offering free two-day shipping to online purchasers, and customers who accepted the promotion were enrolled in Prime on a free-trial basis.  Unless those customers canceled during the trial period, trial Prime memberships shifted to regular Prime memberships, with annual charges and automatic renewals.
“We commend Amazon for fully cooperating with our office in straightening this out,” Miller said.  “To its credit, Amazon had taken steps to address the underlying problem even before we contacted the company with our concerns,” Miller added.

Agreement: Amazon to Provide Refunds to Eligible Consumers, Comply with Iowa Law
The agreement, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, provides for refunds or credits to Iowa consumers who paid for memberships without using them.

The agreement also requires Amazon to comply with Iowa’s Buying Club Memberships law, which requires certain notices and disclosures designed to make the enrollment process clear to consumers.

“Once we contacted Amazon, the company worked with us in fixing the problem and in reimbursing Iowans who may have been charged without their knowledge and consent,” Miller said.

As part of the agreement, Amazon denies any wrongdoing or liability.

Amazon will contact Iowans who qualify for refunds or credits, so consumers do not need to contact the Consumer Protection Division or Amazon for a refund or credit.

“Free Trial Offer” & Buying Club Tips
Miller said that consumers can best protect themselves from unexpected charges by reviewing their credit card and bank statements carefully, and promptly disputing any questionable charges.

  • Be wary of trial offers, “free trial” offers, and membership offers.  Get the details and ask questions.  Will you be billed automatically if you don’t cancel?  By when must you cancel?  How do you cancel?  Will you receive a mail notice?  Remember, they already may have your bank or credit card number to charge you.
  • Examine your credit card bills every month, your checking account and debit card statements, other financial accounts, and phone bills.  Watch for unauthorized charges, and dispute them at once, in writing.
  • Watch your mail and email for notices that you will be billed unless you cancel.  These mailings may look like junk mail or spam.

 

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov or email directly to consumer@ag.iowa.gov.  Consumers can also call the Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926, or outside the Des Moines area, toll free, at 1-888-777-4590.

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