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Wisconsin Automatic Renewal Law

2009 Wisconsin Act 192


Date of Enactment:  April 21, 2010

An Act to create 134.49 of the statutes; relating to:  renewals and extensions of business contracts

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1.  134.49 of the statutes is created to read:   134.49 Renewals and extensions of business contracts

(1)  Definitions.  In this section:

(a)   "Business contract"     means a contract that is entered into for the lease of business equipment, if any of the business equipment is used
primarily in this state, or for providing business services, but only if the contract is for the direct benefit of the end user of the business equipment or business services.   "Business contract" does not include any of the following:

1.  A contract in which  a customer agrees to purchase from a seller an undetermined amount of business services or lease from the seller an
undetermined amount of business equipment, and agrees to pay the seller based on the amount of business services received or business  equipment leased, subject to a predetermined minimum payment in a 12-month period specified in the contract,  if the predetermined minimum payment is $250,000 or more.

2.  A contract  for the lease or purchase of real property

3  A contract for the lease of a vehicle for which a certificate of title has been issued under ch. 342.

4.  A contract for the lease of medical equipment

5.  A contract derived from a tariff issued by an energy utility, as defined in s. 196.027(1)(c).

6.  A contract for the lease of equipment that is for personal, family, or household purposes.

7.  A contract for the purchase of services that are for personal, family, or household purposes

8.  A contract for the lease or purchase of access service, as defined in s. 196.01(1b)

9.  An interconnection agreement, as defined in s. 196.01 (3b) or a contract or agreement offered by a telecommunications utility, as defined in s. 196.01 (10) to meet obligations imposed on the telecommunications utility under 47 USC 151 to 276.

10.  A contract  for the lease or purchase of telecommunications service, as defined in s. 196.01 (9m), including  commercial mobile service,
as defined in s.196.01 (2i), if the contract is derived from a tariff issued by a  telecommunications provider, as defined in s. 196.01 (8p), or  if the contract permits the lessee or purchaser to terminate  the contract after an automatic renewal by giving written  notice, permits the termination to take effect not more  than one month after receipt of the written notice, and  permits a termination without liability for fees or penalties other than a payment for services or equipment used  during the period before the termination takes effect, if  the amount of the payment is one of the following:

a.  The amount of the periodic payment due under the contract multiplied by the number of periods during which the services or
equipment are provided before the termination takes effect.

b.  If the contract does not provide for periodic payments, a portion of the amount due under the contract that is proportional to the
 portion of the  renewal contract term that elapsed before the termination takes effect.

11.  A contract that permits a customer to terminate an automatically renewed or extended contract period by  giving the seller notice of the
 customer's intention to terminate the contract period, if the contract does not require  the customer to give notice to the seller more than one month before the date of the customer's intended termination.

12.  A contract to which a federal, state, or local government entity is a party.

13.  A contract between a cooperative association organized under ch. 185 and a member of the cooperative or a contract under which a
cooperative association organized under ch. 185 is a seller.

14.  A contract for the lease, maintenance, repair, service, or inspection of elevator or escalator systems, including mechanical and electrical components of such systems when built into real property.

(b)   "Customer"  means a person who conducts business in this state and who is the lessee under a business contract that is entered into for the lease of business equipment or the purchaser under a business contract that is entered into for the purchase of business service.

(c)  "Seller"   means the provider of a business service or the lessor of business equipment under a business contract.


(2)  Disclosure Required

(a)  Subject to par. (d), if  a business contract that is entered into, modified, or  renewed after the effective date of this subsection.... [LRB inserts
date], provides that the contract will be automatically renewed or extended for an additional  period unless the customer declines renewal or extension, and the DURATION OF THE ADDITIONAL PERIOD IS MORE THAN ONE MONTH, THE SELLER SHALL DO ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:

1.  At the time the customer enters into the contract, present to the customer a copy of a form including disclosures required under
 par. (b) and OBTAIN THE CUSTOMER'S SIGNATURE  on the form.

2.  INCLUDE THE DISCLOSURES required under par. (b) in the contract in a  CONSPICUOUS MANNER AND OBTAIN
THE CUSTOMER'S INITIALS ON THE CONTRACT on a page on which a disclosure appears.


(b)  A DISCLOSURE REQUIRED UNDER PAR. (a) SHALL CONTAIN ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:


1.  A STATEMENT THAT THE CONTRACT WILL BE RENEWED OR EXTENDED unless the customer declines renewal or
extension.

2.  A STATEMENT INDICATING THE DURATION OF THE ADDITIONAL CONTRACT PERIOD that would result from an
automatic renewal or extension period.

3.  A STATEMENT INDICATING WHETHER AN INCREASE IN CHARGES   to the customer will apply upon an automatic
renewal or extension.

4.  A DESCRIPTION OF ACTION THE CUSTOMER MUST TAKE TO DECLINE RENEWAL OR EXTENSION.

5.  THE DATE OF THE DEADLINE  for the customer TO DECLINE renewal or extension.

(c)  IF A SELLER FAILS TO COMPLY WITH PAR. (a), AN AUTOMATIC RENEWAL OR EXTENSION PROVISION IN THE
CONTRACT IS NOT ENFORCEABLE AND THE CONTRACT TERMINATES AT THE END OF THE CURRENT CONTRACT TERM.

(d)  Paragraph (a) does not apply to a contract in effect on the effective date of this paragraph .... [LRB inserts date], or to subsequent renewals of such a contract.


(3)  NOTICE REQUIRED   

If a business contract that has an initial   TERM OF f MORE THAN ONE YEAR  provides that the contract will be automatically renewed or extended for an additional term of more than one year, unless the customer  declines renewal or extension and the deadline for  the customer to  decline renewal or extension of the contract is more than 60 days after the effective date of this  subsection..... [LRB inserts date],  THE PROVISION IS NOT ENFORCEABLE AGAINST THE CUSTOMER AND THE CONTRACT WILL  TERMINATE AT THE END OF THE CURRENT CONTRACT TERM     UNLESS THE SELLER PROVIDES TO THE CUSTOMER , at least 15 days but not  more than 60 days before the deadline for the customer  to  decline renewal or extension,    A WRITTEN NOTICE CONTAINING ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:  

(a)   A statement that the contract will be renewed or extended unless the customer declines renewal or extension.

(b)  The deadline for the customer to decline renewal or extension

(c)  A description of any increase of charges as to the customer that will apply after renewal or extension

(d)  A description of action that the customer must take to decline extension or renewal.


(4)  Manner of Giving Notice

A seller or a person acting on behalf of the seller shall give the written notice required under sub. (3) by any of the following methods:

(a)  By MAILING A COPY OF THE NOTICE BY REGULAR U.S. MAIL to the customer at the customer's last-known business
 address, unless the contract requires the customer to notify the seller by certified mail of the customer's intent to cancel.

(b)  By mailing a copy of the notice by REGISTERED OR CERTIFIED MAIL to the customer at the customer's last-known business address.

(c)  By GIVING A COPY OF THE NOTICE PERSONALLY to an owner, officer, director or managing agent of the customer's business.

(d)  By including the NOTICE ON THE FIRST PAGE OF A MONTHLY INVOICE sent to the customer.  Notice under this paragraph
shall be prominently displayed in bold face type and in a type sizer no smaller than 12-point.

(e)  By SENDING A FACSIMILE to the customer to the customer's last-known facsimile  number, if the contract permits the customer to
 use this method to notify the seller  that the customer declines renewal or extension of the contract.

(f)  By sending an ELECTRONIC MAIL MESSAGE to the customer at the customer's last-known electronic mail address, if the contract
 permits the customer to use this method to notify the seller that the customer declines  renewal or extension of the contract.

(g)  By sending notice  VIA A RECOGNIZED OVERNIGHT COURIER SERVICE, if the contract permits the customer to use this
 method to notify the seller that the customer declines renewal or extension of the contract.


(5)  UNENFORCEABLE TERMS

No business contract  between a seller and a customer that is entered into, modified, or renewed after the effective date of this subsection .... [LRB inserts date], may require that the customer permit the seller to match any offer the customer receives from or makes to another seller for services to be provided after the end of the stated term of the contract or  renewal period of the contract.  A provision in a business contract that  violates this subsection is void and unenforceable.

(6)  REMEDIES

(a)  Any of the following customers may bring an action or counterclaim for damages against a seller:

1.  A CUSTOMER WHO HAS NOTIFIED A SELLER     that the customer declines renewal or extension of a business contract to
 which sub. (3) applies, if the SELLER HAS FAILED TO GIVE NOTICE as required under subs. (3) and (4) and the SELLER HAS REFUSED TO TERMINATE the contract  as requested by the customer.

2.  A customer against whom a seller has attempted to enforce a provision in a business contract that is unenforceable under sub. (5). 
(am)  Notwithstanding par. (a) 1, if a seller who fails to give to a customer a notice required under sub. (3) subsequently receives notice that the customer declines renewal or extension and agrees to terminate the contract as of the date the  customer notified the seller, the customer is responsible for charges incurred by the customer under the contract  before the date on which the customer notified the seller and the customer may not bring an action against the seller based on the seller's failure to provide the required notice, unless the seller's failure to provide the required notice was willful or malicious.

(b)  A customer who prevails in an action or counter-claim under par (a) is entitled to damages in either of the following amounts:

1.  An amount that equals twice the amount of the damages incurred by the customer

2.  An amount that equals twice the amount of the periodic payment specified in the contract or $1,000, whichever is less.

(c)  Notwithstanding the limitations in  s. 814.04(1), the court shall award a customer who prevails in an action or counterclaim under this subsection costs, including reasonable attorney fees.

(d)  A seller is not liable in an action or counterclaim under this subsection if the court finds either of the following:

1.  All of the following:

a.  The seller has established and implemented written procedures for complying with this section.

b.  The seller's failure to comply with subs. (3) and (4), or the seller's attempt to enforce a provision that is void and unenforceable under sub. (5) was not willful or malicious.

2.  The customer requested, in writing, renewal or extension of the contract that is the basis for the customer's action or counterclaim against the seller and the customer was aware of the terms under which the contract would be renewed or extended.


Section 3  Effective Date

(1)  This act takes effect on the first day of the 12th month beginning after publication.


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