Andrew Roley v. Google LLC, Case No. 18-cv-07537-BLFGoogle established its Local Guides program in early 2015 whereby locals photograph and comment on businesses and locations around the world in order to improve the quality and quantity of reviews about these locations. Google encouraged participation in the Local Guides program by providing incentives, such as “thank you gifts” and invitations to events. As Local Guides submitted more reviews, they graduated to higher “Levels” and became eligible for other items. For example, Google promised Local Guides who achieved “Level 4 status” a free terabyte of data storage.
Plaintiff became a Level 4 Local Guide and claimed his terabyte of data. After performing the work necessary to become a Level 4 Local Guide, Google informed Plaintiff that its offer of a free terabyte of storage was only free for two years. Plaintiff alleged that “a reasonable person under the circumstances would not understand an offer of a ‘free terabyte’ of data storage either to be terminable at will by the offeror or limited in time to as little as two years.”
AMS Survey Expert Brian Sowers designed and conducted a consumer survey to determine whether relevant consumers took away a mistaken belief from Google’s Local Guides offer that, if they earn enough points to “unlock” the one terabyte of Google Drive storage, they will never have to pay for it. Additionally, the Sowers Survey tested whether Google’s failure to disclose that the one terabyte of Google Drive storage was free only for two years was a material omission. That is, whether disclosing that information would negatively influence consumers’ decision to join the Local Guides program.
The results of the Sowers Survey demonstrated that a substantial proportion of relevant consumers who viewed the Google Local Guides offer took away the mistaken belief that, if they earn enough points to unlock the one terabyte of Google Drive storage, they will never have to pay for it. Additionally, the results of the Sowers Survey showed that Google’s failure to disclose that the one terabyte of Google Drive storage was free for only two years was a material omission. Stated another way, consumers who saw the Local Guides offer that clearly disclosed that the one terabyte of Google Drive storage was free for two years were significantly less likely to indicate that they would join the program compared to consumers who saw the offer without such a disclosure.
Google argued the benefits were subject to change under the terms of the offer, and therefore even if the one terabyte Benefit was initially offered for an indefinite period of time, Google had provided a reasonable notice of termination and therefore a class action procedure was inappropriate. The court was not persuaded. Instead, the court found that Plaintiff had satisfied the requirements for the putative class and granted the motion for class certification.
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