William A. Peak, Jr. , of Voorhees, age 85
Letters to the Ed: WHAT ARE YOU VOTING FOR?

ABCmouse Agrees to Pay $10M for Deceptively Marketing Memberships

 

September 2, 2020
by

Amy Hebert

Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Juggling life at home with kids? Like many parents, you might’ve looked into different ways your kids can learn from home online. Maybe you’ve even signed up and paid for a program.

But say over time you find your kids have lost interest in the program or moved on to something else. You think that when your year-long membership is up, you’re done — until you see you’ve been charged for another year, this time without your permission. And when you try to cancel, you find it’s not easy because there are a lot of steps. Sounds frustrating, right? Many parents who enrolled their kids in ABCmouse programs found themselves in a similar situation.

Today the FTC announced that ABCmouse has agreed to pay $10 million to settle charges that it deceptively marketed memberships for its online educational content for kids. How? By not telling people the membership would automatically renew, and then making it tough to cancel, despite promising “Easy Cancellation” when people signed up. And people who did manage to cancel sometimes discovered they had only canceled the “base membership” and that ABCmouse was still charging them for other services.

The FTC will work to return money to people who’ve had their memberships automatically renewed without their permission, or who’ve been charged after trying to cancel. In the future, ABCmouse will also disclose important details about a membership when people sign up including:

  • how much it costs
  • how long it lasts
  • whether it renews
  • how people can cancel it

If a business won’t give you a refund for a credit or debit card charge that's inaccurate or unauthorized, and won’t stop making automatic charges to your account, here’s what you can do:

  • File a dispute (also called a “chargeback”) with your credit or debit card company.
  • Contact the company that’s charging you. Tell them to cancel your subscription. Keep a copy of your cancellation request or your notes about who you talked to and when you cancelled. 
  • Watch your bank statements for new charges that you might need to dispute.
  • Report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Learn more at ftc.gov/credit.

Comments