1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. General Business
  4. Article 29-BB: Prohibited Service Offer Practices


Section 527-A Unlawful practices

General Business (GBS)

1. It shall be unlawful for any business making an automatic renewal or continuous service offer to a consumer in this state to do any of the following:

  a. fail to present the automatic renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms in a clear and conspicuous manner before the subscription or purchasing agreement is fulfilled and in visual proximity, or in the case of an offer conveyed by voice, in temporal proximity, to the request for consent to the offer. If the offer also includes a free gift or trial, the offer shall include a clear and conspicuous explanation of the price that will be charged after the trial ends or the manner in which the subscription or purchasing agreement pricing will change upon conclusion of the trial;

  b. charge the consumer's credit or debit card or the consumer's account with a third party for an automatic renewal or continuous service without first obtaining the consumer's affirmative consent to the agreement containing the automatic renewal offer terms or continuous service offer terms, including the terms of an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer that is made at a promotional or discounted price for a limited period of time; or

  c. fail to provide an acknowledgment that includes the automatic renewal or continuous service offer terms, cancellation policy, and information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer. If the offer includes a free gift or trial, the business shall also disclose in the acknowledgment how to cancel and allow the consumer to cancel before the consumer pays for the goods or services.

  2. A business that makes an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer shall provide a toll-free telephone number, electronic mail address, a postal address only when the seller directly bills the consumer, or another cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use mechanism for cancellation that shall be described in the acknowledgment specified in paragraph c of subdivision one of this section.

  3. In addition to the requirements of subdivision two of this section, a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online, which may include a termination email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without additional information.

  4. In the case of a material change in the terms of the automatic renewal or continuous service offer that has been accepted by a consumer in this state, the business shall provide the consumer with a clear and conspicuous notice of the material change and provide information regarding how to cancel in a manner that is capable of being retained by the consumer.

  5. The requirements of this article shall apply only prior to the completion of the initial order for the automatic renewal or continuous service, except as follows:

  a. The requirement in paragraph c of subdivision one of this section may be fulfilled after completion of the initial order.

  b. The requirement in subdivision four of this section shall be fulfilled prior to implementation of the material change.

  6. In any case in which a business sends any goods, wares, merchandise, or products to a consumer, under a continuous service agreement or automatic renewal of a purchase, without first obtaining the consumer's affirmative consent, the goods, wares, merchandise, or products shall for all purposes be deemed an unconditional gift to the consumer, who may use or dispose of the same in any manner he or she sees fit without any obligation whatsoever on the consumer's part to the business, including, but not limited to, bearing the cost of, or responsibility for, shipping any goods, wares, merchandise, or products to the business.

  7. Whenever there shall be a violation of this section, an application may be made by the attorney general in the name of the people of the state of New York to a court or justice having jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and upon notice to the defendant of not less than five days, to enjoin and restrain the continuance of such violations; and if it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court or justice that the defendant has in fact, violated this section, an injunction may be issued by such court or justice, enjoining and restraining any further violation, without requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any such proceeding the court may make allowances to the attorney general as provided in section eighty-three hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitution. In connection with any such proposed application, the attorney general is authorized to take proof and make a determination of the relevant facts and to issue subpoenas in accordance with the civil practice law and rules. Whenever the court shall determine that a violation of this section has occurred, the court may impose a civil penalty of not more than one hundred dollars for a single violation and not more than five hundred dollars for multiple violations resulting from a single act or incident. A knowing violation of this section shall be punishable by a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars for a single violation and not more than one thousand dollars for multiple violations resulting from a single act or incident. No business shall be deemed to have violated the provisions of this section if such business shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error made notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adopted to avoid such error.

  8. The following are exempt from the requirements of this article:

  a. any service provided by a business or its affiliate where either the business or its affiliate is doing business pursuant to a franchise issued by a political subdivision of the state;

  b. any entity regulated by the department of financial services;

  c. security system alarm operators;

  d. banks, bank holding companies, or the subsidiary or affiliate of either, or credit unions or other financial institutions, licensed under state or federal law; and

  e. sellers and administrators of a service contract, as defined pursuant to section seven thousand nine hundred two of the insurance law.