Free trials are great. Signing up for them and struggling to cancel before you get hit with a monthly charge? That really sucks.

That won’t be happening anymore to people who play games made by Oberon Media, thanks to some work done by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. It reached an agreement with Oberon, a video-game company that sells games at iplay.com and other big third-party websites, to stop signing up customers under false pretenses and for hard-to-cancel recurring charges.

The Attorney General’s Office called the tactics “unfair and deceptive” under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.

Oberon sells games that are downloaded individually or through subscriptions that give customers a certain number of games per month. Customers were fed up with the company because they had been receiving charges well beyond an agreed timeframe and canceling the subscription was near-impossible.

“Consumers were misled to believe they could cancel anytime,” Assistant Attorney General Jake Bernstein said in a release. “Perhaps they should have been told they could try to cancel anytime. In truth, consumers were stuck with subscriptions that lasted two to twelve months. Monthly subscriptions often automatically converted into ongoing, month-to-month plans. For those who were dissatisfied with the arrangement, stopping credit card charges was difficult by design.”

Oberon will pay $50,000 in attorney’s costs and fees. An additional $25,000 in penalties is suspended, assuming Oberon abides by the terms of Wednesday’s agreement.

Oberon denies the allegations but based on the consent decree filed yesterday in King County Superior Court, the company will now:

  • Clearly and conspicuously disclose terms of its membership service before accepting payments from customers.
  • Send notices to customers explaining how to cancel memberships 10 days before they are charged for services beyond their initial subscription.
  • Obtain a consumer’s permission before an initial charge is to be placed on a consumer’s credit or debit card for any game service membership of undefined length, including month-to-month subscriptions.
  • Honor cancellation requests and refund charges mistakenly initiated after a request for cancellation is received, provided such cancellation request is in accordance with contractual requirements.

Oberon, which is based in Delaware, has an office in Seattle.

Comments

  • JMcAll

    Apparently they didn’t learn their lesson. I dealt with their shenanigans a couple of years ago and after paying for their ridiculous membership fees for a year, I felt that it was finally resolved. I haven’t touched their website since then, but today I looked at my bank account and saw that I was charged TWICE for membership fees. I never received any e-mail asking me to confirm membership….they just took it upon themselves to begin charging me with the credit card information I gave them years ago.

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