Nate Schimelpfenig was among the many who tried out the "Bold North" zipline across the Mississippi River as part of the Minneapolis Super Bowl 52 celebrations in January 2018.
Two years later, he's still getting charged for it.
The 36-year-old art director from St. Paul recently became aware of the charges when he received an email from the Active Network informing him that he had renewed his subscription.
The only problem was that to his knowledge, he had never taken out a subscription.
Active Network is a Texas-based company that offers software to be used in the organization of road races, outdoor activities, camps, and school events.
A further check of his "account" on Active.com showed that Schimelpfenig had paid the $36.14 including tax for the Bold North zipline on Jan. 10, 2018, but was subsequently charged $79.95 for an Active Advantage Membership on Feb. 9, 2018.
He was charged $89.95 for the same membership a year later, and again this past week, with the extra charges totaling just under $270.
It turns out that when he paid for the zipline, he had been signed up for a "free" membership for 30 days, which he wasn't aware of.
"I still don't follow how I signed up and maintained a membership," he told BMTN, with the email he received confirming he had booked the zipline making no mention that he was now a member of the Active Network, nor did an email he received a year later after he had been automatically renewed for the first time.
It was only the most recent email received last week that mentioned that his membership had been renewed.
"Since I didn't log in to cancel my unknown membership, they continued to charge me, until they finally made me aware of my membership this morning," he said on Sunday.
Schimelpfenig has since received an email from Active Network informing him that when he signed up for the "free" trial he would have been asked to re-enter his email address and click "an offer acceptance button."
When asked whether he remembered re-entering his email, he said: "I remember it being a crazy, frantic process to try and find a time slot that was not sold out.
"Is it possible I checked or didn’t uncheck a box when signing up? Sure, but to sign me up, retain my card information and continue to charge me for a membership I was unaware I had is fraudulent."
The email from Active said that Schimelpfenig would receive a refund for his membership, though it's not clear whether that would be for the 2020 membership or the two previous ones as well.
BMTN has reached out to Active Network, but has received no response.
Others have had this problem
But Schimelpfenig is not the first customer to fall foul of Active's seemingly vague opt-in memberships.
A look at the Better Business Bureau site shows numerous complaints from customers, with one saying: "I'm a lawyer who has litigated deceptive 'free trial' offer cases and I have no idea how i got enrolled in this Active Advantage scam."
Another wrote: "Signed up for a race, then 3 months later am charged 89.95 on my credit card without authorization. I am a teacher and am very sure I did not opt in for this membership. When you go to their website they actually have a dedicated page that explains this 89.95 charge - obviously is an issue. In a roundabout way they indicate that if you sign up for any of the races you automatically do a trial membership and then are charged subsequent to that if you do not cancel - of course you did not know - so could not cancel. Unbelievable!"
Its Yelp page is a similar collection of 1-star reviews, with one user describing the voluntary "opt-in" to join the trial.
"I never write reviews, but Active is the slimiest registration service I've ever encountered. Every single page of the registration process is bloated with ads and offers with hidden fees," he wrote. "With every click, make sure you read the fine print. Call it an 'opt-in' service or not, it is very clear they are trying to trick consumers into offers with recurring costs."
The company was also the subject of a class action lawsuit in California, which was settled in 2016 after consumers complained they had been enrolled in a discount program without their knowledge, per the Times of San Diego.
The complaint said Active had violated California law by advertising a free trial membership without "adequately disclosing that at the end of the trial period, the consumer would be automatically enrolled in a paid subscription program requiring the consumer to affirmatively cancel that membership to avoid annual charges."