Florida Senate - 2021 SB 2000 By Senator Gruters 23-01678-21 20212000__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to automatic renewal and continuous 3 service offers; creating s. 501.166, F.S.; defining 4 terms; specifying unlawful practices relating to 5 automatic renewal and continuous service offers; 6 providing requirements for automatic renewal offers, 7 continuous service offers, and unconditional consumer 8 gifts; providing applicability, penalties, and 9 exemptions; providing an effective date. 10 11 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 12 13 Section 1. Section 501.166, Florida Statutes, is created to 14 read: 15 501.166 Prohibited service offer practices.— 16 (1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term: 17 (a) “Automatic renewal” means a plan or an arrangement in 18 which a paid subscription or purchasing agreement is 19 automatically renewed at the end of a definite period of time 20 for a subsequent period of time. 21 (b) “Automatic renewal offer terms” means the following 22 clear and conspicuous disclosures: 23 1. The subscription or purchasing agreement will continue 24 until the consumer cancels. 25 2. The description of the cancellation policy that applies 26 to the offer. 27 3. The recurring charges that will be charged to the 28 consumer’s credit card, debit card, or payment account with a 29 third party as part of the automatic renewal plan or 30 arrangement, and that amount of the charge that may change, if 31 applicable, and the amount the charge will change, if known. 32 4. The length of the automatic renewal period or that the 33 service is continuous, unless the length of the term is chosen 34 by the consumer. 35 5. The minimum purchase obligation, if applicable. 36 (c) “Clear and conspicuous” means in larger type than the 37 surrounding text, or in contrasting type, font, or color to the 38 surrounding text of the same size, or set off from the 39 surrounding text of the same size by symbols or other marks, in 40 a manner that clearly calls attention to the language. In the 41 case of an audio disclosure, the term means in a volume and 42 cadence sufficient to be readily audible and understandable. 43 (d) “Consumer” means any individual who seeks or acquires, 44 by purchase or lease, any goods, services, money, or credit for 45 personal, family, or household purposes. 46 (e) “Continuous service” means a plan or an arrangement in 47 which a subscription or purchasing agreement continues until the 48 consumer cancels the service. 49 (2) UNLAWFUL PRACTICES.—It shall be unlawful for any 50 business making an automatic renewal or continuous service offer 51 to a consumer in the state to: 52 (a) Fail to present the automatic renewal offer terms or 53 continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner 54 before the subscription or purchasing agreement is fulfilled and 55 in visual proximity or, in the case of an offer conveyed by 56 voice, in temporal proximity, to the request for consent to the 57 offer. If the offer also includes a free gift or trial, the 58 offer shall include a clear and conspicuous explanation of the 59 price that will be charged after the trial ends or the manner in 60 which the subscription or purchasing agreement pricing will 61 change upon conclusion of the trial. 62 (b) Charge the consumer’s credit card, debit card, or 63 payment account with a third party for an automatic renewal or 64 continuous service without first obtaining the consumer’s 65 affirmative consent to the agreement containing the automatic 66 renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms, including 67 the terms of an automatic renewal offer or a continuous service 68 offer that is made at a promotional or discounted price for a 69 limited period of time. 70 (c) Fail to provide an acknowledgment that includes the 71 automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms, 72 cancellation policy, and information regarding how to cancel in 73 a manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer. If 74 the offer includes a free gift or trial, the business shall also 75 disclose in the acknowledgment how to cancel and allow the 76 consumer to cancel before the consumer pays for the goods or 77 services. 78 (3) AUTOMATIC RENEWAL.— 79 (a) A business that makes an automatic renewal offer or a 80 continuous service offer shall provide a toll-free telephone 81 number; an electronic mail address; a postal address, only when 82 the seller directly bills the consumer; or another cost 83 effective, timely, and easy to use mechanism for cancellation 84 that must be included in the notice pursuant to paragraph (c). 85 (b) In addition to the requirements of subsection (2), a 86 consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service 87 offer online shall be allowed to terminate such renewal or 88 service online, which may include a termination e-mail formatted 89 and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the 90 business without additional information. 91 (c) In the case of a material change in the terms of the 92 automatic renewal or continuous service offer that has been 93 accepted by a consumer in the state, the business shall provide 94 the consumer with a clear and conspicuous notice of the material 95 change and provide information regarding how to cancel in a 96 manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer. 97 (4) APPLICABILITY.—The requirements of this section only 98 apply before the completion of the initial order for the 99 automatic renewal or continuous service, except as follows: 100 (a) The requirement in paragraph (2)(c) may be fulfilled 101 after completion of the initial order. 102 (b) The requirement in subsection (5) shall be fulfilled 103 before implementation of the material change. 104 (5) UNCONDITIONAL GIFT TO CONSUMER.—If a business sends any 105 goods, wares, merchandise, or products to a consumer, under a 106 continuous service agreement or an automatic renewal of a 107 purchase, without first obtaining the consumer’s affirmative 108 consent, the goods, wares, merchandise, or products shall be 109 deemed an unconditional gift to the consumer, who may use or 110 dispose of the gift in any manner without any obligation to the 111 business for the cost of, or the responsibility for, shipping 112 any goods, wares, merchandise, or products to the business. 113 (6) PENALTIES.—For any violation of this section, an 114 application may be made by the Attorney General to a court 115 having jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and upon notice to 116 the defendant of not less than 5 days, to enjoin and restrain 117 the continuance of such violations. If the court finds that the 118 defendant has violated this section, an injunction may be issued 119 by the court to enjoin and restrain any further violation 120 without requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been 121 injured or damaged thereby. In any such proceeding, the court 122 may make allowances to the Attorney General and direct 123 restitution. In connection with any such proposed application, 124 the Attorney General may take proof and make a determination of 125 the relevant facts and issue subpoenas. If the court determines 126 that a violation of this section has occurred, the court may 127 impose a civil penalty of not more than $100 for a single 128 violation and not more than $500 for multiple violations 129 resulting from a single act or incident. A knowing penalty of 130 not more than $500 for a single violation and not more than 131 $1000 for multiple violations resulting from a single act or 132 incident. A business may not be deemed to have violated this 133 section if such business shows, by a preponderance of the 134 evidence, that the violation was not intentional and resulted 135 from a bona fide error made notwithstanding the maintenance of 136 procedures reasonably adopted to avoid such error. 137 (7) EXEMPTIONS.—The following are exempted from this 138 section: 139 (a) Any service provided by a business or its affiliate 140 where the business or its affiliate is doing business pursuant 141 to a franchise issued by a political subdivision of the state. 142 (b) Any entity regulated by the Department of Financial 143 Services. 144 (c) Security system alarm operators. 145 (d) Banks, bank holding companies, or the subsidiary or 146 affiliate of either, or credit unions or other financial 147 institutions, licensed under state or federal law. 148 (e) Sellers and administrators of a service contract, as 149 defined in s. 501.165(1). 150 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.