KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - Subscribers filed a class action against McClatchy and 30 of its newspapers, including its flagship Bee papers, claiming the chain double bills customers who renew their subscriptions.
Lead plaintiffs Elizabeth and Michael O'Shaughnessy sued The McClatchy Company on behalf of subscribers, in Jackson County Court. Thirty McClatchy papers are named as defendants, including The Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee and the other Bee papers in California, The Charlotte Observer and the Fort Worth-Star Telegram.
The class claims that when customers renew a subscription, McClatchy starts the new subscription from the day it renews it-without letting the previous subscription run out-thereby charging twice for overlapping days.
"Pursuant to the specific terms of the standard agreements, subscription customers of defendant, including plaintiffs, agreed to pay defendant, and did pay defendant, a flat fee for the newspaper services to be provided by defendant during the specific duration of the specific subscription period selected by the customer, in the amount indicated in the standard agreements and in accordance with the terms specified in the standard agreements," the complaint states.
"Notwithstanding the express terms of the standard agreements, and the express duration of the subscription period set forth in the standard agreements, whenever defendant renews a customer's subscription it begins the new subscription period to the end of the current subscription period which results in an overlap in a customer's subscription period."
The O'Shaughnessys claim the class includes "thousands of members."
They seek actual and punitive damages for breach of contract, breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing and violation of consumer protection statutes.
They are represented by Theodore C. Beckett III with Beckett & Hensley.
McClatchy is a highly regarded chain, known as one that has tried to withstand the nationwide deterioration of the newspaper business without resorting first to staff cuts and reduced news coverage.