Age of Learning operates a membership-based online learning tool called ABCmouse Early Learning Academy for children between two and eight years old. ABCmouse failed to clearly disclose to consumers that their subscriptions would renew automatically, leading to additional charges, and made it difficult for them to cancel their memberships. The company also failed to disclose important information related to negative option plans, including the total amount consumers would be charged if they did not act to cancel and the deadlines by which they must cancel to avoid unwanted charges.
Consumers who tried to cancel by calling or emailing ABCmouse or submitting a customer support form were required to navigate a confusing process, often preventing many consumers from completing their cancellations. The company records show that hundreds of thousands of consumers who visited the ABCmouse cancellation path remained subscribed between 2015 and 2018.
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Age of Learning, the company that operates ABCmouse, with deceptive marketing and billing practices that violated several laws, including Section 5(a) of the FTC Act and Section 4 of the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act (ROSCA). The company was accused of using deceptive tactics, including forced continuity, hidden information, and the hard to cancel approach to prevent consumers from canceling their memberships.