WASHINGTON, D.C. – The online social networking website Classmates.com has agreed to improve its disclosures to District of Columbia consumers to settle allegations of misleading practices and to pay the District $300,000 to settle the matter, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced today.
The settlement resolves the District’s investigation into several practices by Classmates.com that affected thousands of District consumers. The District alleged that Classmates’ email solicitations – which misrepresented to consumers that people they knew were trying to contact them through the Classmates website – improperly induced consumers to purchase Classmates memberships. The District further alleged that Classmates failed to notify consumers clearly and conspicuously that their memberships would be automatically renewed unless they took action to terminate the subscription.
As a result of the District’s investigation, Classmates.com agreed that in email solicitations to consumers, the website will clarify that the consumers are not necessarily being sought by people they know. In addition, Classmates’ paid membership offers will clearly and conspicuously disclose that the memberships automatically renew, and Classmates will provide automatic-renewal reminder notices to D.C. consumers with subscription terms of one year or more so that they can choose not to renew their subscriptions.
The settlement also resolves the District’s allegation that when Classmates allowed other companies to market their membership plans through Classmates’ website, consumers did not receive clear and conspicuous notice that the offers were from companies other than Classmates. Under the settlement, Classmates will clearly and conspicuously disclose when consumers are leaving Classmates’ website and being directed to an offer on another company’s website. Classmates.com is owned by Memory Lane, Inc., of Seattle, Washington.
Classmates.com has agreed to pay the District $300,000 for its cost of investigation and associated attorneys’ fees.
Attorney General Nathan said, “We will be vigilant in responding to email solicitations that have the potential to mislead consumers into making unwanted purchases. In addition, we urge consumers to pay careful attention to the details of what they are offered over the Internet.”
The Attorney General commended Bennett Rushkoff, chief of the Public Advocacy Section of the Public Interest Division, and Assistant Attorney General Gary Tan of that section, for their work on the case.
Ted Gest, Public Information Officer