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Tell HN: Pluralsight and the dark-pattern of auto-renewals
172 points by aosaigh 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments
For anyone considering subscribing to Pluralsight, be aware that they will not inform you of their auto-renewal policy, and will charge you once your subscription is up for annual renewal without warning. In my case, this auto-renewal has cost me $300.

This is a serious dark-pattern and I'm surprised companies still employ it. It's so short-sighted. I emailed their support and they offer a "promotional" $50 refund as a token.

Are there any other companies that do this? In contrast, Egghead.io (which in a similar space) sends an email in advance warning you of the renewal as well as how to cancel it.




The other day I was stopped on the sidewalk by someone who told me they worked for a large environmental non profit that helps save endangered species. He asked if I would subscribe to help. I offered to make a donation and was told they I can't do a one time donation and they "really need subscribers". He even told me I could just cancel after the first payment.

Taking advantage of someone being forgetful is sleazy.


In the UK a typical suggested donation might be £10 per month and the first three payments will go to the sales person's employer - which is typically a third party, not the charity. If you cancel after the first month they get paid but the charity gets nothing. It's sleazier than you think!


I'm a member of a club in the UK which raises money for charity - we've stopped giving money to corporate charities because their overheads are such a high percentage of their takings - at this point they're largely just self-perpetuating bureaucracy machines.

We give cash to small volunteer-run charities where we know that 100% of the money raised goes to the cause in question.


What do you consider a high percentage?

Looking at Oxfam, it's 10% admin and 7% fundraising [1], which doesn't seem too bad given their global reach.

Admittedly their reputation has taken a bit of a tumble due to the scandals.

[1] https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/how-we-spend-your-money


I think there's a fairly open question about how those percentages are calculated. Oxfam is an outlier, with a very low stated percentage being used for overheads, but it'd be interesting to see a breakdown of how the remaining cash was used. For example - are staff costs in a target country (say, Haiti) considered admin, or is the UK base only counted?


Personally I would like a general rule of no more than 10% split between admin and fundraising, with 5% being considered the normal. 10% makes a nice Schilling fence.

Ideally I won't allow any budget for advertising, because that will just move money from one charity to another.

Alternatively I would only donate to the top of Give Well.


For most of those charity orgs, you're being more generous to the middle men than to those in need


I like the charity-starts-at-home approach. I don't know how people do this in first world countries, but in developing countries is relatively easy to find a cause.


That's insane. A better approach to donating to charities could be: https://www.givewell.org/charities/top-charities

If you want to give to a charity because you heard about it on the street, at least try to give the money directly and cut the middle man.


It's not just taking advantage of forgetfulness, I think there are a number of additional psychological factors that make you more likely to keep it active. Off the top of my head, I'd say: laziness might make you convince yourself that it's not a big amount, there might be a sunken cost fallacy at play (similar to how phone agents keep you on the line on purpose, which also serves to make you feel like you didn't waste the last 10 minutes listening to their offer), or you might start feeling guilty at denying the good cause money all of a sudden, etc.


>It's not just taking advantage of forgetfulness, I think there are a number of additional psychological factors that make you more likely to keep it active.

yeah, these companies really like to take advantage of my adhd too.


And the unsubscribe process might be a chore: at least that's what happens with email subscriptions.


I haven't in general had issues with email unsubscribing, worst case I will have to log in.

I have had to write an angry email to a paper because they though they could get away with only doing phone unsubcribing (when they did signups just fine online).


Exactly same thing happened to me in India for some UN Child related initiative (they claimed). Ultimately they wanted a credit card for subscribing and I didn't have they. I was wondering why the fuss about Credit card but now I got it that it's for forgetful auto renewals.

`Meetup.com` did that to me once too. Seems companies are fine with this just to renew subscription because who bothers to get it cancelled.


how did the meetup.com experience look like?

unlike all the other examples, you normally never want to pay for meetup.com if it is not a longterm subscription. it makes no sense otherwise, unless you have some weird corner case of needing to manage a large group for a short time, but then dissolve it afterwards.


Because My meetup page moved to a Pro network. I contacted Meetup support and told them this and then they issued a credit note. It was hassle-less but the auto-renewal thing frightened me.


so they upgraded your account without warning? that would not be nice indeed.


Every charity I've been stopped by in the past decade has done this. Donate $20 cash right now? Nope, we can't do that... but we can sign you up for monthly ongoing payments of $200, or even just $25 if that's all you can spare.


Even when I make a one-time donation online to some charities, a lot of them seem to spend that donation sending me mailers asking me to donate again. I wish I could donate with a "don't add me to your list" option.


You can do that with a money order. Of course you can't do that online.

I chatted once with a friend in the non profit space about a service that let people donate online anonymously to charities. She didn't think the idea was a good one because, just like for businesses, there's a lot of value in knowing who your donors (customers in the business scenario) are for non profits. They get additional income from selling lists, they want to reach out and build a relationship (especially recurring donations).

It makes sense to me from an organizational standpoint, but I too wish there was an easy way to do one off donations.

As a counterpoint, I read somewhere that Bill Gates advice about donating was to focus on one to three charities and really get involved and knowledgeable about the space, rather than drop $20 on 10 random charities. It helps both the charities you pick (focus, more money, longer term commitment) and the ones you don't (they don't spend money trying to get you to donate further when you aren't really committed).


> there's a lot of value in knowing who your donors (customers in the business scenario) are for non profits

Well, of course, but the things they use that knowledge for are bad for me.

> They get additional income from selling lists

OK, then they're already my enemy.

> they want to reach out and build a relationship (especially recurring donations)

Ah, there's a word for people who try to build a relationship with you in order to repeatedly get money off you: "Scammers."


This exact thing happened to me with Greenpeace. Didn’t realize I had a subscription until later, then the awkward call to cancel and associated guilt trip.


yeah this happened to me with Amnesty International a few years ago. I felt very pressured and signed up just to cancel when i got home. Since then I never even stop to talk to them.


I reckon he gets a lot more $$ commission if you sign up. Maybe he even lied about not being able to make a single donation.


Amnesty International got a couple hundred bucks from me this way over the past 6 years. At less than 5 dollars per month, I just couldn't get myself motivated to figure out how to cancel their weird pull-based recurring payment model[0]. The combination of a process with unclear way of cancelling, them not doing a bad job at being a charity, and me having no patience to deal with their "subscriber retentions" people means they still get the money, and I keep wondering whether shooting them with a GDPR "please delete all my data" request would be a simpler way to cancel.

--

[0] - I'm bitter about this wrt. banks in Poland. I should be able to view all recurring payments that pull money from my account in a single place in a web interface, and cancel them from there. Alas, the banks are happy to send out my money, but offer no way for me to see a list of recurring payments.


Slightly different, but Adobe got me with an unintended annual renewal. For their annual plan billed monthly, there's no way to turn off autorenewal until the 12th month without losing access immediately and paying a penalty. They do send you reminder emails, which I missed, but it struck me as pretty abusive to require an opt-out exactly 11-12 months after signup to avoid being locked into a new one-year contract, with no way to opt out early. One of many forum threads about the policy:

https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2536257

Ugh, I remember now how gross that felt at the time, to realize I was locked into the contract, couldn't cancel, and that the same thing was likely to happen again next year, because they built it that way on purpose. Blech.


You can cancel. It's in their CS rep book to refuse or outright lie about being unable to cancel without a penalty fee, but just ask to speak to a manager.

After the reps gets back from their smoke break, rest assured suddenly they are able to proceed with the request.


Damn, I wish I knew this a month ago. Damn me for being so quiet and anti-confrontational. I ended up with the half price monthly.


Adobe hit me with an unintended annual renewal out of a trial. I just wanted to try Adobe Premiere Pro on a school project...well, final exams happened and I forgot to cancel the subscription. Then I moved to a different country, started a new job, and continued to forget about Adobe. A month later I see the credit card bills and try to cancel. Somehow I have an annual contract that carries an early termination penalty.

Take the money you dogs; it's the last you'll get.


Perform a chargeback and leave a negative review on any app store you may have bought it from. Companies will just keep screwing people over if they never get punished for it.


"In one of my frequent bouts of negligence, I bought something that I didn't intend to buy and now I want to return it for a full refund for which you shall bear the cost. If you don't give it to me I will issue a fraudulent chargeback and leave negative reviews."

Who is screwing over who here?


That's extremely misleading and you know it. Nobody starts a fucking _trial_ with the expectation that if they forget about it, they get charged a ton of money periodically until they notice. That's not just "buying something in a frequent bout of negligence".


You can call me "Nobody", then. I have bailed on countless "free trials" after being prompted to enter my credit card details. It's quite common.

As far as Adobe goes, what part of "7 days free, then US$20.99/mo" do you find hard to understand?


Never thought a company like Adobe can do this! Too much of harshness.


What did you think was going to happen after you entered your payment details for your "free trial"? Did you not read the terms at all? It says clearly that it'll cost a monthly fee after the test period.

Here's what you don't want to hear: You were acting negligent and irresponsible. You paid the price. Worst of all, you didn't seem to learn anything from it. You're here complaining that companies shouldn't take your money when you agree to give it to them, because you can't be trusted to actually read the contracts that you enter. It's embarrassing.


It's not about the monthly fee, it's about the fee to cancel the subscription. Automatically transitioning someone from a free trial to a yearly membership with a penalty for early termination is insane.

I mean, why stop at 1 year? Why not move free trial users to a 100 year contract with a $10,000 early termination fee? A certain percentage of users won't read the fine print--easy money!


It's not insane at all, it's how subscriptions commonly work. They run for the whole year, whether you want the whole year or not. If you can cancel at any time, that's a feature that is advertised. Adobe also offers this, for an increased monthly price.

When you enter a contract, you need to read the fine print. In this case, you didn't even read the bold print that said it'll cost you money. You have no one to blame but yourself.

> I mean, why stop at 1 year? Why not move free trial users to a 100 year contract with a $10,000 early termination fee?

Because a software subscription running over a period of 100 years would almost certainly be considered an "unfair term" and "unreasonable" under contract law.

Besides that, there are laws governing how products can be advertised, you can't display one price and then hide excessive extra fees in the fine print.

> A certain percentage of users won't read the fine print--easy money!

A certain percentage of users don't read anything at all. There's lots of sleazy companies out there, looking for fools to part from their money. It's usually perfectly legal, because the same laws that make contracts possible make exploitation possible. You can't have one without the other.


I can't think of a single subscription service that does not auto-renew. Can you? Companies consider that a "feature" because it provides uninterrupted service.

Is your beef with them because they didn't email you to let you know they were going to bill you for renewal?

Do what I do. Never trust a company. Whenever you sign up for a recurring service or a free trial, add an event to your personal calendar that reminds you to cancel. Or use a gift card with a limited balance.


Got an email reminder from Jetbrains yesterday about my IntelliJ licence renewal —

"This is a friendly reminder that we are going to charge your MasterCard [last four digits] on October 16, 2019, for the next year of your subscription".

Reminder 3 months out from renewal (& IIRC nearer the time too). Nice to see a company with belief enough in their product that they expect you to renew on that basis rather than through forgetfulness.


I think I wasn't clear enough that this is an annual subscription of significant cost ($300). With that in mind I would absolutely expect them to email in advance reminding me of the charge (other similar services do). I agree that for something that is monthly, I wouldn't expect an email every month.

Adding dates to the calendar and using giftcard/credit card are both good suggestions for the future.


Here’s the way around it as someone who has subscribed:

Cancel right after signing up for annual. Day it will terminate or day prior, can’t remember which, you’ll receive a “hey, don’t let your access expire” email and then you can either sign back up again or let it lapse.


Also, consider using a one-time Credit Card from https://privacy.com/


Thanks. I used to use virtual cards from Bank of America and Citibank but looks like it's just an after thought to the big banks now...


Do you know a similar service outside US?


You can get virtual cards and virtual disposable cards with Revolut but it costs a little fee or it‘s free with the premium/metal subscription


Revolut's disposable card is awesome. I use it constantly.


In New Zealand we have debit cards, so they act just like a normal credit card, except it needs to have money in the account for the transaction to work. So you tie it to an account that you put money into, instead of say, your every-day spending account which could contain a lot more money.


In the UK, the bank will just let the transaction go through & then charge you a hefty fee for an unapproved overdraft.


I have an annual Adobe Cloud membership and receive a renewal warning one month in advance, with the option to cancel.

   Your renewal notice  
  Your annual membership will renew automatically on 07-July-2019 (PT). The terms are outlined below.  
  To manage your subscription or access your invoices, login to your account & click ‘Manage plan’. Or login to adobe.com and navigate through your Account Management page: Manage your account > My plans > Manage plan.  
  If you have further questions, please contact Customer Support to speak with an Adobe representative.  
  Thank you,
Adobe


Beeminder will apparently automatically stop charging you if you stop logging in to their service.



Just saw that this has been debated on HN before: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5664998


Yep. The opposite of what your cable company would do.


Credit cards in the US have sane policies. There's a grace period following renewal during which, if you cancel, the annual fee is refunded. Also, if you cancel at any other point, you get your prorated annual fee back.


I bought hosting and domain name from namecheap last week. I could (and still can) toggle auto-renew on and off pretty easily.

My only gripe with namecheap is that sometimes I have to solve a captcha to login.


I can think of two. Letterboxd, and Pinboard. I pay for both.


Amazon auto renewed w years fee after a trial, but offer a full refund after the fact if you haven't used the service.


If they won't refund you then they're being dicks. Chargeback your credit card if you're in the US. You'll almost certainly win and there's likely no penalty if you don't.

Chargebacks also cost providers money on top of the refund, which disincentives their shitty refund policy.

I run a SaaS company (with a great refund policy) and am part of many SaaS startup groups and it's standard practice to basically refund anyone who asks.

The refund costs way less than the damage to your brand / negative reviews.


Spent several hours chasing up 5 chargebacks for our service today. The accountant did not recognize our charges so simply claimed they were fraudulent. What a pain in the ass for us.


What are the startup groups you are a part of, if you don't mind sharing? I also run a small SaaS.


Facebook group: SaaS growth hacks

There are a few others if you search SaaS on Facebook, but that's the best/biggest one.


Try buying ads on linkedin and setting an amount you want to spend. It auto-renewed that amount, every day for weeks, without an email or even linkedin profile notification. It's an extremely shady dark pattern.

I lost well over $1000 to them before I discovered it and cancelled. Have fun getting a refund as well. In short, avoid.


To be fair, LI uses dark patterns with the same gusto that a wolf has for a lamb ranch. I thought they were widely known for their scummy tactics.

https://medium.com/@danrschlosser/linkedin-dark-patterns-3ae...


I'm curious if this was obvious during the on boarding of when you bought/created the ads though? The world of spending on ads alludes me, and as I start to venture into it to promote my own stuff - these are the things that have me a bit apprehensive to pull the trigger on any significant ad spend.


I'm sure legally there was a reference, however the interface was structured to loot my credit card. I told support as much, and while I'm sure there was some indicator, again, no notification my card was being charged in my linkedin account notifications, and no emails that it was being charged. You need to watch it accumulate practically real time, because it will auto renew. Under what circumstances someone would willingly sign up to have $100 taken from them as an automatic refill is beyond me.

Further, when someone is fundamentally dissatisfied with a service, you either refund them or you have profited by misrepresentation. In spite of a messaged commitment from them to refund the money, I have not received any notification that it has been refunded.

The good news is that when a company's culture sucks that much, it is ripe for disruption.


I would go so far as to say that every single SaaS company in existence has autorenew. Literally the entire business model is built off of a predictable set of customers converting and renewing (and thus a predictable revenue stream).

SaaS companies are also heavily incentivized to make it harder for you to cancel a trial. Yes, if you get down to it this is not in your interest but also it ends up being a relatively positive tradeoff. You can either have free, no commitment trials with autorenew and all the economic activity that they bring (probably hundreds of thousands of jobs, hundreds of great, useful products) or you can have no autoconvert and also basically no tech sector. I suggest you set up a calendar reminder when you sign up for a free trial or use a temporary credit card (many solutions are a quick search away).


I wonder if my reaction to this is more based on how they implement auto-renew rather than the fact they do it at all, as I agree that companies need to have auto-renew for many reasons.

I just find something very unfair about a policy that doesn't warn you about a significant annual renewal coupled with the fact you aren't warned about it nor is it refundable (even if you immediately contact support). It feels like a very deliberate design. As I mentioned, other services have a much more honest and open approach to this, where they email a couple of days in advance warning you about the charge.

But maybe I'm just naive in this instance and should assume companies will do it (so plan around it)


Not every single one of them, but it's definitely rare to find auto renew turned off.


If you use paypal, scrub pre-approved payments page: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_manage-paylist

I've caught two unintended renewals and cancelled a lot of pre-approved payment authorizations. Out of 20 authorizations, only Google and Valve were legit recurring payments, all other just set it up after a one-time purchase.


In Europe, this might be illegal: > Merchants operating in the European Union must give customers 7 business days’ notice before changing the price of their recurring billing plan; 7 business days’ notice is also required before billing customers if it has been 6+ months since their last payment. If you don’t operate in the EU, these notices aren't required (but they're still good practice).

From: https://articles.braintreepayments.com/guides/recurring-bill...


Thank you for this tip (it worked). It looks like this is actually a Visa policy.

From their terms:

"For a recurring transaction, both: … - Provide notification to the card holder at least 7 working day before a recurring transaction if any of the following is true: … - More than 6 months have elapsed since the previous Recurring activity"


This is very interesting. I'm in Europe so I'm going to investigate this further. Thanks


I use Pluralsight and I love their videos.

I had a subscription I'd paid for and then I changed companies. My new Company provided a subscription. So I called up and they refunded me the prorated subscription.

I see you emailed customer support, but I'd instead call them. You'll probably have better luck with a human listening. Maybe not but it's worth a try for $300.

An Email should have done it. It's crazy if you do call them and it works, but sometimes that does the trick.


I think we should stop calling these things "dark patterns" This is just plain old deception and scamming.


They have to justify that bloated stock price. YouTube is a huge competitor and FREE.


Did you come through a shady landing page somewhere? From what I see, you cannot sign up without being informed of their auto renewal policy, and they do not charge you without warning, which were your two complaints. Every signup button I could find on their public website says "10-day free trial then $X/month, billed monthly/annually" immediately beside or below the button. Clicking any of these buttons brings you to a payment page that asks your credit card info. That page says you'll receive an email reminder the day before your card is charged.


"That page says you'll receive an email reminder the day before your card is charged."

Is that every time they charge you? Or just after the end of the trial? I think it should be a law (or at least an ethical standard) to email all customers in advance of automated billing (or at least have a 24 hour cooling off period after such a charge).


Sorry, didn't explain properly. I had subscribed already for the first year ($300). My renewal date for this next year came without warning and I was charged again, without recourse. I updated the text to clarify.


What do you mean it came without warning? It’s a subscription plan that you pay for yearly.


I had a run in with BitDefender the other day. They charged me 120 euros for something that costs 37 euros on their website claiming auto-renewal was part of my original order 2 years ago!

The first counter offer I got, when requesting a full refund was adding 1 year or paying 37 for 1 year. Reminding then that in the EU you have a 14 day return period for online purchases made them refund the complete order.

What is especially ironic about this is that they supposedly want to protect me against online scammers, etc. In my book auto-renewals like this are scams.


Same for LogMeIn. And Washington Post. And so many others. It makes me sad that what should be legitimate businesses now seem to feel it’s acceptable to trick people into giving them money.


Had similar experience with Adobe. I got discounted monthly price on their photography plan for a year. However, they didn't send me the new price before end of the period. So, it went on for few more months, when I realized this. Contacted them, and after few chats, managed to get refunded the whole amount for the months renewed in full as their terms say they must send a renewal email/notice and they failed. I pushed that point heavy and managed to get full refund.


Disclaimer: I've done about 4 videos for Pluralsight.

I have to agree - if you make it hard to cancel your service I think you're losing money. We're kinda seeing this a lot on iOS, where subscriptions and the process of carrying those over after a limited free trial are very, very shady.

It's a shame, because you want those dollars earned - and if I decide your product isn't right for me and you make it hard to leave, then by proxy you've made it almost impossible for me to come back.


You've also transformed me to a walking & talking warning sign telling others to stay away :)


Recently had a legacy Bluehost site I inherited get auto-renewed to the tune of over $400. This was one small step up from a static site, for an organization that doesn't exist anymore--the site remained only as proof that they once did.

There was nothing in the emails they sent saying that auto-renew was set up. The way I read the expiration warnings was that it would, in fact, expire, which I was fine with. Thankfully support was very helpful in refunding the charge and canceling the account.


Another company: Godaddy. They send an email reminder for auto-renew with a button, "Manage your renewals". Click on that button, but you can't toggle off auto-renew on that page. There are some big toggles to toggle the privacy feature (an upsell of a paid feature). If you want to toggle off auto-renew for that domain, you have to navigate to a different Godaddy page using 2-3 clicks without instruction.


Depends on the TLD? For example, .app domains are always auto-renew I think


Registrars will generally auto-renew domains for their registrants regardless of any TLD-specific policies.

And that makes sense; letting a domain name lapse absent explicit instruction is generally the wrong thing to do.


Well depending on the tld, there are grace periods after it lapses


And depending on TLD, it can be quite expensive to restore a domain during the redemption grace period. Much better to not let it get into that situation in the first place.

Plus there are autorenew grace periods, so the saner thing is to keep the domain around and then delete it if the registrant objects (and then they get their money back).


I definitely can sympathize with you on having a $300 deduction without warning but this is how 95% of online business and services bill. You are hard pressed to find a business application that is not subscription with auto renew. At one time I said I would never buy an app that is subscription based. It did not take long for me to realize I would have to get rid of my computer because I have no apps.


> This is a serious dark-pattern and I'm surprised companies still employ it. It's so short-sighted.

It's not short-sighted at all. Literally every adult should be aware that subscriptions generally auto-renew, unless advertised otherwise. It's been like that since the dawn of time.

From a business perspective, it makes little sense not to do auto-renewals. Of all the subscriptions that I've ever had, those that didn't auto-renew, I let lapse, often permanently. I didn't think to myself "I should reward this company for not doing auto-renewals!", I thought "I'll get to it later".

Those that did auto-renew but that I didn't need, I didn't cancel for a long time. Of course I'm annoyed at the auto-renewals wasting my money, but not to the point where I wouldn't use the service again out of spite. If I need it, I need it.


I've mentioned this a few times, but the issue isn't with auto-renewals existing, it's with how these auto-renewals are applied and the policy around them.


> For anyone considering subscribing to Pluralsight, be aware that they will not inform you of their auto-renewal policy, and will charge you once your subscription is up for annual renewal without warning. In my case, this auto-renewal has cost me $300.

I'm glad you mention this. The same thing happened to me and is one of the big reasons I cancelled and won't be using them ever again.

I can't remember the details but it seemed sketchy at the time, I signed up for a free trial and they ended up just sending me a bill for $300 after the 7 days expired, without any text or warnings that this would happen before hand (not during the free trial sign up either).

Yes, a very dark-pattern indeed.



What I usually do is I use a virtual Revolut card that I keep frozen when I'm not making payments. Unfortunately some companies don't accept prepaid card as payment, but in those cases I simply don't give them my money.


Revolut actually has "disposable virtual card" - details are regenerated after the first purchase. It's even more convenient.


I believe what your point is since the subscription costs 23 times more of what Netflix HD costs, there should've been a warning since Netflix and many other companies do even for their low prices. From my experience this is nothing new, but there should've been a fair refund system.

Many of devs might already know Visual Studio offers free 1-month (it was 3-months before) of Pluralsight, I'm not sure if you need to sign up with your CC now, but it's a nice deal. https://visualstudio.microsoft.com/dev-essentials/


LinkedIn is the worst. Starting a trial through the mobile app requires only a couple of clicks. Trying to cancel that trial? Haha! Good luck! There's no way to do it through the mobile app. I had to open the website, login there as well, go to the help section, search for "cancel" and click on the help article. At this point I was greeted by "this feature is not supported on mobile devices" so I had Firefox request the desktop version in order to view the page.


There are so many such services that make it look like that there is no auto-renewal but when you check help docs, they have instructions to contact customer service to disable auto-renewal.

Having bitten by this a few times in past, now whenever I sign up for any subscription service, I add a calendar entry to cancel service 1 month before it supposed to expire.

If I like the service, then I just update reminder to cancel it before next renewal period.


We're working on a search engine for online courses (classpert) and the subscription model was always a big question mark for us. We try our best to show advantages of the subscription but for the end user, we're not so sure it's the best model (and we doubt providers really believe that either). Personally, Udemy model (pay per course) works better for the general case, and I would only subscribe to specific content made by specific, top-notch people.


Pluralsight stung me after the free first 10 days too. I was wary, and even after carefully reading the conditions I didn't think the first payment was automatic.


Isn't this the whole point of yearly subscriptions? Seems like you should be shaking your fist at the sky instead of at Pluralsight.

1) capture additional revenue from those canceling (even better: not using) prior to 1 year

2) capture additional revenue from those forgetting to cancel

Distant 3) getting the cash up front. If your business really needs working capital that bad, I don't think you'll be in business very long.


> 2) capture additional revenue from those forgetting to cancel

This is the dark pattern exactly and nothing to do with annual subscriptions as a business process. I'm not sure why people are willing to put up with it. If I have an annual renewal, I should be reminded. Actively encouraging and/or relying on your users to forget the renewal date is scummy, simple-as.

As another poster mentioned, this is such a problem that Visa have encoded this in the user terms. In the EU, you have to remind your users 7 days in advance of the renewal date if the subscription has been greater than 6 months.

Saying that this is "just the way it is" completely ignores the actual issue.


I don't mean it in a "just the way it is" sense. but rather that there are a TON of companies that do this. get mad at all of them.

as for the OP, hope he used a credit card (not debit) and if so, dispute the charge.


FYI: I live in the EU and work for a large corporation.

I have a Pluralsight subscription via Visual Studio+MSDN and when the period is near the end Pluralsight sends several emails informing me that the subscription soon will end and that I should renew.


Most companies in my experience will refund you fully with an email to support. SaaS companies expect a lot of churn even with auto-renew, and I think the cost of a bad rap outweighs a lenient refund policy.


All subscription plans auto renew. That’s basically what a subscription is.


Please see some of my other comments. The issue isn't with the fact that there is a renewal (despite my poor explanation that might have made it seem that way) but with how they go about it.


stamps.com does this, I got distracted and forgot to cancel my account for a year and a half and ugh.

People do this because it works, they pack their T&C full of arbitration terms and other bullshit like that.


When you take out any subscription, you should always create an event in your calendar that is the last date that you can cancel before renewal.

Takes seconds to do and saves a lot of money down the line.


I'd call my credit card company and see what recourse they offer.


I had the same thing happen to me late last year. I cancelled my Pluralsight account the moment I got the payment notification. I will never do business with them again.


PSN (to play online on the PS4) does auto-renewal. Can't remember if that is an option though. Not as expensive though, about 60USD/year.


Also somewhat "dark" when they email you on the day of renewal, so that you have no chance to consider other options.


I use the subscriptions app on Playstore to keep track of all my subscriptions. Pretty happy with it so far.


i'd say the same about lingoda.com, although not extremely known, they offer language courses. their auto-renewal policy is abysmal, basically the only way to stop auto-renewal is to delete your account entirely.


Would privacy.com or a similar service be helpful in situations like this


domain sellers will often happily charge you a subscription to their services when you've moved your domain(s) somewhere else and there is literally no service they can provide to you.


thank god my corp pays for pluralsight... i hope you get your money back, i do love the website but if you dont need it they should refund you.


Todoist uses the same dark pattern


Pluralsight < udemy

Nobody help you on pluralsight if youre stuck


Not true. I did received refund for my account when codeschool got acquired by them. They auto renewed but i compliant on first day, so support team did made refund.




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