Rodale to pay $1.3 million over consumer complaints of billing practices

Men's Health magazine coverThe publisher of Prevention, Men's Health, Women's Health and other magazines has agreed to settle a case brought by the Florida Attorney General that raised questions about the company's sales practices.

Under the agreement, Pennyslvania-based Rodale,Inc., which also publishes and sells books, newsletters and other products related to health and fitness, will issue refunds to Florida subscribers and pay up to $1.3 million to the state.

Those receiving refunds include customers who enrolled online in the company's trial offers, automatic renewals or automatic shipment plans through third-party advertisers. Refunds will also go to consumers who paid for products only after receiving numerous requests for payment and to consumers who contacted the company about paying for a product or service they did not order.

Rodale came under investigation after the state received numerous complaints from consumers that they were being billed for items they never ordered or received. Others said they had received products they never ordered.

Investigators learned that the company billed customers who did not return books or cancel magazine subscriptions after enrolling in free trials. The company also enrolled those same customers in automatic magazine subscription renewals or shipped them books without their consent.

The settlement stipulates that Rodale will make the terms and conditions of its subscription plans more clear as well as whether a consumer has agreed to automatic renewals and automatic shipments.

Rodale spokeswoman Robin Shallow told Consumer Ally in an e-mail that the company did nothing wrong.

"Rodale denies violation of the law of Florida or any other jurisdiction, but has reached a settlement and agreed to marketing practices as outlined in the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance in order to assure best practices for consumers," the statement read.
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