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Class Claims Angie’s List|Cheats on Renewals

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Angie’s List boosts prices for subscriber renewals without informing customers, and uses confusing language on its website to allow it, a class action claims in Federal Court.
     Lead plaintiff Marie Fritzinger claims Angie’s List uses confusing language on its website so it can renew subscriptions “pursuant to the Membership Renewal Fee Schedule rather than the less costly Membership Fee Schedule.”
     “When a member enrolls in Angie’s List, the defendant Angie’s List quotes that person the applicable ‘Membership Fee’ options,” the complaint states.
     “Enrolling members also must agree to automatic renewal of their Angie’s List memberships, and must allow Angie’s List to keep a valid credit or debit card number on file to facilitate that automatic renewal.
     “The Angie’s List Membership Agreement provides that the automatic renewal, like the initial enrollment, is to be billed at ‘the Membership Fee.’
     “In breach of the plain language of its Membership Agreement, Angie’s List instead automatically renews its members pursuant to a distinct – and more costly – ‘Membership Renewal Fee.’
     “In this manner, Angie’s List has breached its own membership contract over one million times.”
     Fritzinger claims that since she signed up in May 2007, “on each subsequent July 1 through the present, plaintiff’s annual Angie’s List membership was automatically renewed at a fee higher than the ‘membership fee’ for which she contracted.
     “In addition, beginning on or about July 1, 2010, and continuing until July 2012, plaintiff’s subscription was automatically renewed by Angie’s List at the ‘Angie’s List Bundle’ membership level without notice from Angie’s List of this change in membership plan, and without plaintiff authorizing this change to her membership plan.”
     Fritzinger says the website’s claim of a “discount” for customers who choose yearly plans instead of paying each month is also misleading, that “the ‘discount’ identified in the Membership Fee Schedule falsely represents that memberships will be renewed automatically at the published Membership Fee … [but] Angie’s List instead automatically renews its members at a so-called ‘Membership Renewal Fee’ for each geographic market.”
     Fritzinger adds: “The ‘Membership Renewal Fee’ is not identified in the Membership Agreement.
     “There is no mention of a distinct ‘Membership Renewal Fee’ on defendant’s extensive website.
     “The ‘Membership Renewal Fee’ is not identified in defendant’s FAQ regarding membership fees.
     “Defendant does not publish a publically available schedule identifying the so-called ‘Membership Renewal Fees.’
     “The Membership Renewal Fee schedule is not accessible to persons who have not already joined Angie’s List.
     “Thus, Angie’s List conceals from prospective members all information regarding the Membership Renewal Fee.”
     Fritzinger claims, “the Membership Renewal Fee Schedule is an attempt by Angie’s List to confer validity on a predatory pricing plan that is contrary to the plain language of the Membership Agreement and contrary to Angie’s List’s own publications concerning membership fees.”
     She seeks class damages for breach of contract, deception and unjust enrichment.
     She is represented by Irwin Levin, with Cohen and Malad.

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