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Consumer News

Wine Home Delivery Companies Settle Consumer Protection Lawsuit



LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and four other prosecutorial agencies have announced that Direct Wines, Inc., and Wine Awesomeness, LLC, have settled a consumer protection lawsuit alleging that the companies automatically renewed membership subscriptions in violation of state law.

In California, businesses must clearly and conspicuously disclose all automatic renewal charges and terms and get affirmative consent of those recurring charges from consumers.

Prosecutors said the violations involved wines sold by Delaware-based Direct Wines, a wine club marketing company, and Wine Awesomeness, a South Carolina wine retailer, which allowed people to subscribe to wine bottle home deliveries.

The Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz county district attorney’s offices and the Santa Monica City Attorney filed lawsuits against Direct Wines and Wine Awesomeness in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

On February 14, Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis approved the settlement with Wine Awesomeness. On February 18, Judge Steven J. Kleifield approved the settlement with Direct Wines.

Under the terms of the settlement, Direct Wines and Wine Awesomeness have agreed to pay $365,000 and change their sales practices. Additionally, the companies must:

  • Clearly and conspicuously disclose its automatic-renewal terms
  • Charge a consumer’s credit or debit card or account only when a consumer’s consent has been obtained through a check-box, signature, express consent button or other substantially similar mechanism that must be selected to give consent, in compliance with the automatic renewal offer terms
  • Provide confirmation of the transaction after the contract is made
  • Provide a toll-free telephone number, email address, a postal address or another cost-effective, time, and easy-to-use mechanism for cancellation
  • Allow consumers who accept an automatic renew or continuous service to terminate the contract online
  • All cancellations must be effective upon request.

The violations involving Direct Wines occurred between Sept. 1, 2013, and Sept. 27, 2017. Violations involving Wine Awesomeness occurred between Aug. 7, 2017, and June 20, 2018. The defendants did not admit wrongdoing in the stipulated judgments but worked cooperatively with prosecutors to amend their business practices to ensure compliance with the state’s automatic renewal laws.

In 2015, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office formed the California Automatic Renewal Task Force (CART) with the San Diego, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz district attorney’s offices, and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office.

The goal of CART is to address the automatic renewal issues that have troubled many consumers when they purchase goods and services online. CART finds that some businesses do not properly disclose to their customers that their subscriptions would be automatically renewed until canceled by the customers. Such deficient disclosure is not limited to a particular industry.

In addressing the disclosure issues in the California’s wine industry, CART has joined forces with the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control to set forth automatic renewal disclosure guidelines for wine clubs.

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Consumer News

LA Alcohol Delivery Sees Massive Spike Following “Safer at Home” Order



Photo by Waldemar Brandt

LOS ANGELES — Following California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” order, Saucey has experienced an unprecedented number of users on their alcohol delivery platform.

The company has seen a 300% increase in area sales compared to a standard delivery day.

“As the concern over the COVID-19 virus has grown at both the state and public levels, I think you’re not so coincidentally seeing a rise in people ordering alcohol,” says Saucey co-founder and CEO Chris Vaughn. “We’re feeling the effects elsewhere too, like San Francisco and Chicago; we’re doing our best to assist everyone who wants to use us and use us safely.”

The Los Angeles-based app recognizes they are among select delivery services fortunate enough to be helping people in a variety of markets as they practice social distancing and protect themselves from the rapidly spreading Coronavirus.

“It’s good to see so many people making lifestyle adjustments that let them be as comfortable as they can be during this time,” Vaughn said.

There may be something to that comfort thing. Since March 15, Saucey has seen ice cream sales spike by 500% and soft drinks by 150%. Lime sales also spiked by 350%, potentially pointing to more people making mixed drinks.

As for the alcohol, vodka tops Saucey’s spirit sales and is up by 250%. Whiskey, however, saw the greatest spike at 300%. IPAs held the highest increase in sales in their beer category at 300%.

Saucey will continue providing safe deliveries to the people of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Orange County and San Jose.

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Costco Says Don’t Even Think of Returning Toilet Paper




(TMZ) — Costco is unsympathetic to all the folks who stocked up on toilet paper like they were never gonna get another sheet … because the superstore has made it clear — NO REFUNDS!!!

This sign was plastered on the wall of the Costco in Pentagon City outside Washington, D.C. Now that people have settled in, it seems they’re realizing they have waaaaaay too much toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes and Lysol, and apparently some are trying to return it for cash.

You gotta be a little sympathetic … lots of people got laid off after they hoarded these items, so money is a huge issue.

Also on the no-return list — Water and rice.

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Consumer News

Drives Aim to Keep Historic Restaurants Alive During Outbreak



Owner Dimitri Komarov at the famous Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES (Daily News) — With restaurants limited to takeout service or shut down completely by the coronavirus outbreak, a drive has been launched to keep some of Los Angeles’ legendary eateries from fading away.

Known as 1933 Group, the team operates about a dozen themed bars and restaurants in Los Angeles, including the barrel-shaped bar Idle Hour in North Hollywood, Harlowe in West Hollywood, Highland Park Bowl and the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood.

Many of them have shuttered in recent days amid strict orders implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti, aiming to stem the flow of deadly COVID-19.

“We are struggling to survive,” said Dimitri Komarov, the venues’ co-owner. “The impact is dire. We’re losing our […]

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