On September 24, a federal judge in Minnesota declined to dismiss a proposed class action alleging that Sempris LLC (“Sempris”) sold “memberships” in supposed money-saving programs that instead resulted in illegal, unauthorized monthly credit card charges.

The plaintiff, a Georgia resident, alleges Sempris, which operates “membership loyalty programs” that offer discounts and coupons, was responsible for five unauthorized charges to her credit card that appeared after she responded to a television infomercial on digestive health.  The plaintiff claims that when she called she was subjected to a hard sell by a representative who persuaded her to sign up for a trial membership in “A Taste For Savings” for an initial payment of just $1.95.  The call-center representative allegedly promised to send the plaintiff information about the program as well free gifts, and advised that she could cancel the membership at any time during a trial period.

According to the plaintiff, she never received that information or any gifts, and she forgot about the matter until, months later, she noticed that she had incurred five charges of $24.95 each for the membership.  She claims that Minnetonka, Minnesota-based Sempris collaborates with the unidentified call center to hook unsuspecting consumers into the memberships, which are described as “negative option” plans that automatically enroll consumers and then require them to later cancel their participation.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery found that plaintiff Carol Maher had presented enough specifics about the operations of Sempris LLC to back up her claims and to allow the case to proceed.  The plaintiff alleges that Sempris engaged in violations of Minnesota consumer and business laws, as well as fraud by omission and fraudulent inducement.  She seeks restitution, damages, and injunctive or declaratory relief.