Internet-based telecom provider Vonage agreed to pay $100 to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that it made it unduly difficult for consumers and businesses to cancel their subscriptions with the company, the regulator announced Thursday.
The FTC alleged the company, a subsidiary of Swedish telecom giant Ericsson
used so-called ‘dark patterns’ to make it difficult for customers to cancel and charged them after directly requesting a cancellation from a company agent. The complaint also alleges that Vonage surprised customers with early termination fees, or “junk fees” that were not clearly disclosed at enrollment.
“Today the FTC delivers on our commitment to protect consumers from illegal dark pattern tactics by companies that prevent consumers from canceling their services,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This record-breaking settlement should remind companies that they must make cancellation easy or face serious legal consequences.”
Vonage has agreed to a proposed court order that would require it to simplify its cancellation process and enable customers to cancel through the same method used to enroll. For instance, if a customer signed up for the service through a website, Vonage will have enable customers to cancel online as well.
The company will also pay $100 million, which will be used to pay for refunds to harmed customers.