I subscribed to the New York Times with a simple one-step "put in your credit card deets". One year later I was going to leave the country so tried to cancel it. After several steps of forms you get the phone number of someone to call to cancel (remember phone calls?!). They put the hard sell to stay.
My plans changed, I stayed in the country. I really loved my NYTimes subscription (I miss my crosswords) - but ain't no way I'm signing up again until they make it equally easy to leave as it is to join. I apply that to every company I deal with now.
A little while ago, I noticed the dark pattern that dropbox uses and showed it to my friend while talking about dark patterns. Turns out he was in charge of his university for selecting a good vendor for file storage. He saw it and immediately said 'fuck that' and went for another vendor instead. You see, this is how dark patterns shoot you in the foot - the cost of trust and transparency is even higher. In this case, dropbox lost significant money that they could have otherwise won.
Besides, In this day and age, there is literally no value that dropbox offers to its users. Their competitors offer way more value for similar price points and the experience with dropbox isn't even that good. All they have is their brand name, which will also be gone soon after they've tortured their customers with these dark patterns.
I love to see a list of all my subscriptions with the ability to unilaterally cancel my subscription at any time via PayPal... I never even contact the companies I 'unsubscribe' from... I simply remove their access to my paypal.
My experience is internet companies don't collect debt the way you describe. It's the offline companies that do (ISPs, gyms, utilities, banks, etc)
Edit: they also need to inform you before sending your debt for collections, giving you time to get it right with them before any credit score issues. Seriously, people are so worried about keeping their promises to companies that don't reciprocate that concern. Most companies just deal with the consequences of breaking the rules. Why shouldn't we apply the same to them as their users?
I'd imagine this is in the Paypal terms when the company chooses to integrate with them and that 'debt' isn't enforceable
This is tangential, but on the topic of PayPal and privacy, this article is interesting about PayPal and HIPAA: https://simple.icouch.me/blog/is-paypal-hipaa-compliant-revi...
Short answer: if privacy matters, PayPal is a non-starter. I don’t want news publishers to have my information either. I know publishers like to howl and whine about “owning the customer relationship,” but unless they allow Apple for subscriptions, I won’t subscribe. I don’t need to be constantly reminder if their “special offers.”
Some consider paypal to be archaic, but it's bleeding edge payment tech when placed alongside traditional credit cards.
Had it happened with a credit you'd not only have your funds immediately blocked for 90 days, you also get hit with processing fees regardless of if the customer was scamming you or not.
Now we have even better tools available for subscriptions. Check out privacy card.
The disputes system is horribly inefficient. Reqarding fraudsters is worse than simply losing the money to mitigation efforts, as reqarding them incentivizes them too!
Right now payment processors are fairly detached from the negative repercussions, so they basically encourage customers to do chargebacks or disputes.
Both support payment via Bitpay. ExpressVPN returned the money no problem after I've discovered that they don't do port forwarding.
What ended up happening was I went to the "Edit payment info" page and just entered my card number as 4242 4242 4242 4242, which is a Visa testing card number.
It authorized it as valid and I never dealt with the company again.
By the way, your karma just reached 12345 so that means you've achieved HN Gold status. Congrats! Now never post again and stop receiving votes so it can stay that way.
the only fraud here is your advice
It should be illegal.
I was really surprised because they generally have a good reputation as an organization. I'll never let them get their hands on my payment details again.
I found canceling MIT tech and the Atlantic to be painless btw
Companies rely on us feeling the pressure of social conformity.
Indeed legally I expect you can cancel by any reasonable means?
Another one is the ACLU. Easy to start, damn near impossible to stop without just canceling your card. All I wanted to do is change to a different card, but they ignore me. Great way to ruin your reputation.
Donating should be easy, but canceling should be just as easy. You can do it through our website anytime without speaking to anyone.
Might not apply here, but it's possible they were just attempting to be understood.
It ranks hundreds of websites from "easy" to "impossible".
1. delete all your posts the same way they would be deleted if you went to them and pressed the delete button.
2. Anonymize them (replace user name with "deleted user <randomnumber>").
3. Keep storing the username
After that, delete all other data (profile, settings, e-mail, password hash, ...)
Comcast, Blue Apron, credit cards, etc. do it but I didn't think publishers were getting to this point.
Setting up something that lets you send those is a hassle the first time, but after that, sending a fax is about as easy as sending an e-mail.
Isaiah: Hello Jay and thank you for contacting The New York Times! My name is Isaiah and I will be able to make any changes to your account today! One moment while I pull up your account.
Isaiah: I have located your digital account and I would like to personally thank you for being a Basic digital subscriber with the account number (XXXXXXXX)
Isaiah: If you don't mind me asking, what led you to cancel? I would love to gain your insight and see if there are any potential issues that I may resolve for you.
Jay: Please cancel my subscription.
Isaiah: May I ask why you wish to cancel?
Jay: I decline to answer that. Please cancel my subscription.
Isaiah: please note that leaving will put you back at 5 free articles per month and you will no longer have unlimited access to our content. Any saved Cooking recipes will stay saved but you will not be able to view them until you subscribe again.
Jay: I understand. Please cancel my subscription.
Isaiah: I understand your concerns. Because your readership is important to us, I'd like to extend a special offer for $2 per week for 1 year.
Jay: No thank you. Please cancel my subscription.
Isaiah: You will continue to enjoy all your subscription benefits for the rest of your billing cycle, which ends on February 07, 2019. Unfortunately we cannot issue any credits or refunds for the remainder of this billing cycle.
What happens when you try to cancel outside business hours? Do they have 24/7 support, do they just let you cancel, or do they tell you to try again the next day?
I don't know about canceling outside business hours.
Going from a quick, precise and inexpensive communications channel to a slow, synchronous, error-prone and costly one is something that really annoys me.
On the flip side I subscribed to cigar afficiando for a year decade ago. Every year I get a renewal notice, every year I get new issues. I definitely have not paid for it since the first year. I don't know if it is to keep subscription stats up or they make enough on the ad revenue. But I'll receive multiple notices each year to renew and they just keep coming for free.
You have to be able to cancel through the same medium through which you can subscribe (so if you can subscribe through email, then unsubscribing only through snail mailing a letter is illegal), and it can’t be an unreasonable effort.
I’m very interested what the consumer protection agencies in the EU have to say about this.
Although the way you describe it probably wasn't legal for a long time.
It wouldn't be the first time they did that.
I've been waiting since November to try and switch ISPs cause Unitymedia is as reliable as RFC 1149.
Don't tell me... As reliable as Twitter? It's got birds :-D
That said, I'm trying really hard to buy internet from Deutsche Telekom right now without much success, so it might just be that they're really struggling to make anything work at all, and they prioritize selling. I don't know how Germany got here. It's just absolutely insane at this point.
Pretty much any kind of slimy "roach motel" sales or customer retention tactic get your company instantly placed in the bottom circle of hell in my mind.
You're making it a pain in the butt to cancel? That card is no longer valid.
You don't get out of contracts just by ghosting on them.
6 months in, you cancel your credit card (or it expires or whatever).
The fact that they can't bill you doesn't change that you agreed to the plan and that you owe the second 6 months anyway. That's a debt and the gym can (and some do!) choose to go after you for it in whatever legal way they feel. That's collection agencies, and direct lawsuits.
An open ended agreement ($10/month for a newspaper) often will have this same style - you agree to pay $10/month for access, they give you access. Valid until cancelled. If you simply ghost - is that cancellation? Probably not, and it's up to the contract. Of course, most consumer things just drop it and shrug, but that is not a given.
--amend yes it's (close to) fraud so be careful. Lots of things were illegal before they weren't; union strikes come to mind.
Still, everybody should routinely use nyms when interacting with parties that needlessly ask for them - if for nothing else than to hinder the surveillance society.
Services that care about cancellation and charge backs always charge the full duration upfront at the reduced price. Not month to month.
The gym, the newspapers or tinder will charge you ahead for the next month. If they can't charge you, they terminate your access and it ends the contract. You stop paying and you stop being able to use the service.
Maybe it's different in the UK but many people have got caught out assuming this is the case for gyms.
If you sign a contract saying you will pay £X each month until you cancel then just stop paying, you still owe the money.
As in, suppose a service advertises it open endedly as you stated, but I only needed 3 months of the service, then forgot about it or was traveling, is that considered illegal?
Eventually services will be cut off, but contractually you're likely responsible for charges up to that point and the companies involved may end up selling that debt to collection agencies (often for pennies on the dollar).
For utilities, you always pay much later after it was consumed. At least a whole month usually. It's a fundamental constraint with distributing water and electricity. You're always in debt with the utility provider.
For a newspapers subscription, you always pay in advance. They can cut it anytime. There is no reason for them to give you access if you didn't pay.
I think they were threatened with regulation and so stopped being so blatant, but they make money off holding customer's cash.
The provider certainly allows debt when moving in, while the contracts and payments are setup. Afterwards, I am not sure if the last bill if for the next or past period, probably a bit of both.
Planet Money had a good podcast episode on it: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/08/354591198/epis...
If you do this with any sizable company, you will just end up accumulating the original charge along with late fees until it is sent to collections and hits your credit report. Even if you get lucky and they just cancel your service, your lack of payment will still be reported to payment networks and eventually you will be deemed high risk when paying for other things.
Cancel the service properly and always have proof.
I doubt any court would go against the consumer in that situation. Especially if you never login or use the service again.
It's extremely useful though, and they say all the right words when it comes to their revenue and their management of user data. The way I see it: they're basically a credit-card company that gives you much finer control of your online payments; they could probably screw me over, but so could my actual credit-card company. They at least make it harder for other companies to screw me over.
Anything primarily online? They don't. Netflix, hulu, most credit card subscriptions that are VC funded (I've done with with countless SAAS providers), etc. I've ghosted them with no repercussions on my credit score or collections calls.
Edit: I also use paypal and click the remove merchant authorization button from there; that might also trigger some kind of forced cancellation?
I told them if I had to call, I would call my lawyer first, who would be calling them... and then they wrote back that they canceled.
So, these companies don't need to make you call, and even if it's inconvenient, difficult, or impossible to call to cancel, some won't budge. This should be illegal; if I sign up online, I should be able to cancel online. Making these artificial steps hampers business, my work time, my personal time... sitting on a phone waiting or slogging through steps or upsells is not a good way to do business and interferes with everything else.
It hasn't bothered the politicians enough, who are corporate shills anyway, so they haven't made it so companies have to be reasonable with this, like they did with CANSPAM.
Instead I simply sent them an email insisting that I wanted to cancel, and that I refused to talk to them on the phone to do it. They replied with a “great offer” to reduce the price. In my reply I simply insisted on cancelling. I didn’t hear from them again, except for a confirmation by post a while later that the service had been cancelled.
Of course, this is much more effort than it should be, especially an emotional effort because being treated like this is very upsetting. But it might be worth trying.
there is no "just" about that...
The next month -- on my new card -- the charges appeared.
Turns out that Visa will honor a recurring charge even if the old card number has been cancelled. Insane. You will need to move to an entirely different type of card. Don't know if this is true for the others (Amex, discover, etc) but I was shocked that this was Visa's policy.
Dropbox is annoying to me because I have a service that I’m overpaying for, lack basic features like search, up sell with every interaction, and make leaving tough too.
This should be an option, not the only way to cancel.
The Dropbox online cancellation, like many others, is a deceptive, tricky option designed to make you think that you cancelled when you did not to rip you off. Dropbox isn’t unusual.
Why is a phone call so evil? It’s bizarre to me that a arguably marginal inconvenience is more noxious than active trickery.
That would severely reduce their circulation.
The whole reason the signup flow is done entirely online is because its simpler and more convenient for both the subscriber and the provider.
Which tells you why they don't offer the cancel flow through the same medium. Because it's too easy. They want to add friction and inconvenience to the cancellation.
It's not as bad as many gyms ("you must (snail) mail a form to our headquarters to cancel"), but it's a step in that direction.
Very clean way to illustrate the ridiculousness.
The other day I tried to delete my udacity account. No button in settings, I mailed support, they asked my to mail legal (apparently they don't fwd mail..). From legal I received the following response:
We are in receipt of your request to delete your account. We are sorry you want to leave the Udacity family; you will be missed.
Before we can proceed with fully processing your request, we need to verify your information. We take these steps to minimize risk to the security of your information and of fraudulent information and removal requests. Specifically, we ask that you provide the following pieces of information:
- Username and email address associated with your Udacity User Account (if different from the one you provided in your initial request);
- Online Courses currently or previously enrolled in;
- Approximate date of User Account registration;
- Country of residence; and
- A statement under penalty of perjury that all information in your request is truthful and that this is your User Account or that you have the authorization to make the request on behalf of the owner of the User Account.
If, after you have provided the above information, we are unable to verify your identity and/or authority to issue the request, we may reach out to you for further verification information.
As a reminder, any deletion actions we take in response to your request are not reversible and may result in Udacity (or you) being unable to retrieve information about your account, enrollment, and records of completion. Please also keep in mind that all removals of such information are subject to requirements to maintain certain data in our archives for legal or legitimate business purposes.
Thanks for your understanding.
Udacity Legal Team
That strikes me as really extreme. If I had an Udacity account and someone tried to delete it, I would be annoyed, but I wouldn't seek to press criminal charges against them.
Yes, that's what I meant. If some stranger deleted my account, I don't think I would be angry enough to attempt to press criminal perjury charges against them.
What happens if you're taking part in the Georgia Tech/Udacity online Master's in Computer Science, and suddenly all of your course history on Udacity is gone? Are you then stuck with remotely trying to access records through whatever GA Tech has retained for MOOC students in a degree program? Does it prevent you from signing up for additional courses because there's no record of you completing the prerequisites? Does their platform have a provision for overriding those prerequisites, and what would that have to be based on - word from a professor who taught a MOOC, has never seen you or your work and probably depends on Udacity's listings?
A similar situation could arise if the platform is being used for mandatory continuing education credits in fields that have that. An industry that has CE requirements would often be well-served to partner with an established and stable online learning platform rather than building their own. If you're required to take X hours of CE annually to retain a license but the only proof you have is a PDF certificate from someplace that says "We've never heard of this person," do you qualify or do you end up in licensing/certification hell?
On the other hand, I have no idea what legal justification could Udacity claim. It's probably bogus.
I'm not an Udacity customer, and after reading your account I never will be - I loathe these scummy tactics.
In fact, in Europe it's so many people that that's the law.
To delete your account's content I think here should be email verification or 2FA.
And what about a company where you can clear out the few bits of data they have, but still can't delete the account itself?
I know they wont miss our 220ish users, but I hope enough individuals see your post to put a dent in their numbers.
I have no affiliation with Udacity but I feel that yours is an extreme response to a company that holds records of work that is very dear to some people and their careers.
You read the post wrong.
Didn't windows 95 popularize the idea of the trashcan - temporary deletion - 20+ years ago? Don't many db tools support the idea of "soft deletes"?
"Hey - once we do this, you can't get anything back, ever, immediately, it's all gone. For good. But we're going to keep stuff forever that you can never see, and we won't tell you what it is. But you can't have your stuff back, ever. It's gone."
Even my "offline" university had the idea of "not paid", "suspended", "active", etc. Keep me on file, and I'll pay again in 12 months when I take more classes, etc.
That sounds like a complex process to avoid deleting the wrong things, but maybe not the same for stopping a subscription?
That delete process sounds like a pain, but I suspect even a "reasonable" delete process is gonna involve a lot of steps and be somewhat a pain considering the consequences of actually deleting data.
In the end I just changed all my details to some variation of the phrase "cancel account" except the billing details (which I couldn't change) then did a chargeback every time they charged me.
It took them a couple of months to finally get round to cancelling my account (I think it was actually the bank who intervened). It was more effort than just calling the fac company, but I sure as hell wasn't playing their game.
Send them an email saying that you are deaf and can't talk on the phone. Works every time I've tried it.