SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal class action claims Hewlett-Packard, doing business as Snapfish.com, "has stolen money from its own customers" sending their credit-card information to a marketer who uses it "along with a misleading website, to deceive Snapfish's customers into enrolling in a fee-based membership."
A slew of similar complaints have been filed against online merchants and marketers. As in this case, the defendants are accused of offering a small gift, or free shipping, but inadequately disclosing that clicking upon the offer will result in monthly charges of $14.95..
Lead plaintiff Carol Hill Castagnola, "a senior citizen," sued Hewlett-Packard dba Snapfish.com and the marketer, Regent Group dba Encore Marketing International.
"Hewlett-Packard Company dba Snapfish.com ('Snapfish') has stolen money from its own customers by transferring its customers' credit card information to their party Regent Group Inc. dba Encore Marketing International Inc. ('Regent'). Regent then used the customers' credit card information, along with a misleading website, to deceive Snapfish's customers into enrolling in a fee-based membership," the complaint states.
Snapfish sells photography goods and services on its website. As is customary, consumers are led through "several checkout screens" to make their purchase.
"Defendants have used this checkout process to deceive customers into enrolling in a fee-based membership," Castagnola says.
She says the Snapfish website sends customers to "a different website, controlled by Regent," without informing them. "To the contrary, Regent designed its website to deceive consumers into believing they were still viewing the Snapfish website by displaying the Snapfish trademark and using the Snapfish layout and color scheme."
Regent offers a "$10 gift code or other perk" if the unwitting sucker "join(s) the Snapfish Valuepass program," Castagnola says.
"Only in small print, on the far left side of the Regent website, designed not to be noticed by the consumer, did the Regent website disclose that consumers would be charged a $1.95 activation fee and then billed $14.95 per month thereafter for the Snapfish Valuepass program."
Castagnola seeks restitution, costs, an injunction and class damages for unfair and deceptive trade, and business law violations.
She is represented by Jeffrey Rosenfeld with Kronenberger Rosenfeld.
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