Oregon Passes Laws Regulating Free Trial Offers And Negative Option Plans

Oregon has recently passed two new laws regulating free trial offers and negative option plans. The laws will go into effect January 1, 2012.

Oregon Senate Bill 292 will regulate free trial offers. A person making a free offer, or imposing a financial obligation on the consumer as a result of accepting a free offer, must provide clear and conspicuous notice of the offer's terms. As with many other states that have statutorily addressed this topic, Oregon's statute details certain baseline disclosures that are always required. Additionally, as in Maine, the seller must obtain the consumer's billing information directly from the consumer. Alternatively, the seller (i.e., the person providing the free offer) can transfer the consumer's billing information to a third party if it first acquires the consumer's affirmative consent.

Oregon Senate Bill 487 addresses automatic renewal and continuous service offers. The bill is very similar to the statutory provision adopted by California that we previously reported on. Advertisers in Oregon will be required to clearly and conspicuously disclose the terms providing for automatic renewal. The seller will also be required to obtain the consumer's affirmative consent to those terms before charging him. Either before or after completing the consumer's order, the seller must send an acknowledgment including the automatic renewal offer terms and information on how to terminate. The information must be presented in a manner that the consumer is capable of understanding. The seller must provide similar information whenever it makes a material change to the plan.

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