In April 2013 our host published an article featuring Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson had sued Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts after she had refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.
Washington’s consumer protection act bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation AG Ferguson sought a $2000 penalty for each violation and to end the business’ allegedly discriminatory practices. The case garnered considerable attention in both the state and nationally in which the religious rights of business owners do not necessarily comport in some cases with antidiscrimination statutes which require equal services be provided for all customers.
The Internet Order company, known for its product “The Pimsleur Approach” language software sold online, has agreed to pay a one million dollar fine to settle charges by the Washington Attorney General who alleges the company violated consumer protection laws by engaging in what is referred to as a Negative Option Trap.
Negative option billing, is the business practice of automatically billing a consenting consumer for products or services of which the consumer must pay or cancel in advance of delivery. Washington State law treats deceptive Negative Option Billing as a violation of the consumer protection act and also considers unsolicited goods delivered to a consumer to be gifts and the recipient has no obligation to pay.
The investigation began after an advertisement program offering to sell consumers a language instructional CDs for the introductory price of $9.95. Consumers complained that afterward they were unexpectedly billed for additional language CDs every sixty days for in some cases reportedly $64.00 each.