Surprise! You’ve Been ‘Auto-Renewed’

It all began in 2007 when a Jacksonville woman got fed up with her home security monitoring service.

She just wanted to stop using the service, but was surprised to find that her contract contained an auto-renewal provision that allowed the company to automatically renew her contract. She could only have stopped the renewal by submitting a written request to the company 60 days before the contract was set to renew.

Instead of being able to cancel her service, she found that she had been auto-renewed for another two years.

Plainly, the woman wasn’t happy, and when her protests fell on deaf ears at the alarm company, Rep. Charles McBurney, a republican state representative from Jacksonville, stepped in.

On May 12, 2010, legislation to protect consumers against vague and unscrupulous auto-renewal contracts became law in Florida.

Under the statute, businesses that sell or lease services that have automatic renewal provisions must clearly and conspicuously disclose that in their contracts. Also, if a contract lasts at least 12 months, the business is required to give customers a one or two month notice before the renewal date, which states that they can either do nothing and let the contract renew or make a request to end the contract.

More importantly, the law specifies that if your service provider does not comply with these provisions, then the automatic renewal contract is void and you are off the hook. The law applies to contracts for services that last at least six months and have auto- renew provisions that extend the contract for more than one month.