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LinkedIn is Evil
60 points by smock 3446 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments
I just spent the last half hour trying to downgrade my account from business to personal, after discovering a recurring charge which I hadn't realized was going to be recurring. There are plenty of buttons and obvious links for how I can upgrade my account - but not a single one for downgrading. I considered canceling, but now that I'm in the system it will be awkward to leave. Basically they have me boxed in.

From their FAQ, it appears that the only way to downgrade is to E-MAIL THEM! Even though I find this unacceptable, I went ahead and composed an e-mail using their link - only to get a 'Page Load Error' upon submission.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with LinkedIn, or am I just missing something obvious?

The same thing is happening for me. I just noticed that they are billing me $20/month and I'm also getting an error when I try to send them a message via their form. Not being able to downgrade in a simple way is Evil. It reminds me of AOL in the bad old days.

You're missing that you should just start contesting the charges. You made a good faith effort to downgrade. Chargebacks sound like the only way to get their attention.

I'm a little wary of doing that - presumably they'll start pushing back and getting on credit card shit lists is something that makes me feel even more helpless than not being able to cancel something.

Agreed with other comment. I used to work with credit card network. Chargebacks are a penalty for merchants, not consumers. In the case of a disputed charge, the worst that happens to the consumer is they do not get their money back. The merchant has to pay a fee no matter the outcome. It's used to force merchants to be as clear in their accounting practices as possible.

That's what this system is set up for. To protect YOU. Linkedin mislead you (allegedly) to believe there would be no recurring charge. They made it extremely difficult (currently impossible) to cancel these charges. Call your CC company and put a stop on all future charges. Your CC company will fight to help you. Remember CC companies make good money if you stick with them (a % of every sale goes to the CC company's pocket) so they want your business.

You know, a person can always CALL on a 'telephone' and speak to someone from LinkedIn in person. After dealing with a short wait period, you will get to talk to someone who will help you, thus avoiding the nastiness in court.

I'm not sure if you really meant this as a reply/rebuttal to the grandparent, but contesting a charge with your credit card company rarely ever results in "nastiness in court". In fact, that's pretty much the one virtue of credit cards over other forms of payment - it's easy for you to contest things and then your credit card company will usually just take care of it for you.

The could also find a fax machine or a telegraph. It's not the user's job to jump through hoops -- stopping the service shouldn't be harder than starting it.

I recommend this method. Give them a chance to do the right thing and let us hear about it after.

Yeah, your credit card company can take care of it for you. They'll send LinkedIn a chargeback if you contest the charge, and then someone at LinkedIn will probably take a look, since their money is on the line.

Odd, I've gone from free-paid-free-paid-free a few times now by following whatever the process was at the time.

One thing I suggest for any sites like this is to get one of those "disposable" credit card numbers with a configurable time/balance limit. Login to your online card balance viewer portal and there is usually an option for this. Eliminates a lot of "please please cancel my account" debates...

That is a really good idea - I had the same issue with a wireless provider I signed up for (Deep Blue Wireless, if anyone has ever used them) previously.

Regardless, I think it is a pretty shady business practice to obfuscate the process of removing charges which were signed up for. It can be done really well - Netflix has made it really easy, and because of it I am willing to go back and forth as a subscriber. At this point I will never sign up again for a LinkedIn business account.

Any recommendations on 'disposable' credit cards?

Citibank provides a web service that dynamically generates a credit card number linked to your account, which is only valid for a month. This service comes free with their credit cards AFAIK.

Bank of America offers this as well. They give you the option of specifying a one time limit, monthly limit, and expiration dates for the number.

Citicard has a virtual credit card number which we can use for a certain period of time. Never used the virtual number myself though.

I like the "Paypal plugin". You can generate both temporary long-term and temporary one-time use cards. Very handy, and you have the extra protection of having it linked to your Paypal account, so if you choose to limit your Paypal balance to $100 you don't have to pull any tricks like you would with a bank account.

Paypal does this very easily online.

Speaking of evil companies....

LinkedIn seems to be an all-around stubborn and inconvenient site. I had the same experience, but in my case it was in deleting my account. The deletion process was unnecessarily difficult, so I deleted all my contacts (I think the account ultimately did get deleted though). The reason I wanted to delete my account in the first place had to do with the fact that it was overly restrictive in managing, showing, deleting my own content. The last straw was that I had posted a question in the public Q/A section and there was no way to delete the question permanently when I did not want it to be shown.

I've had problems with their email notifications. Despite repeated requests to be removed from all emails, I still keep getting some. I've written to them about this as well, with no response.

In general they appear to not really pay attention to user requests.

Maybe downgrading is considered an edge case.

This is a joke, right?

Agreed. Considering a company evil is a bit much...

Considering a company benevolent is a bit much, I think.

By not considering a company evil, I haven't said anyone is benevolent. I have a hard time believing nefarious acts are afoot here. I'd prefer not to see paranoia on HN.

this isn't paranoia, it's a discussion of bad design

You sound like someone brainwashed by Google.

Yes, I had similar experience while closing my account on LinkedIn. I had to email them, to which they replied with asking reasons. But why should I bother giving them reasons about why I want to close.

They really made sure that I don't have any option to close the account in one-click (ok, 2 clicks max. for confirmation!)

Sounds like a good YC business: a service that will take care of the hassle of canceling you from other services.

Could call it CancelMe -- For $5 you could cancel any one of a dozen major evil fee spammers.

I like it. Somebody contact me (info in profile) if they would like to explore this further.

> For $5 you could cancel any one of a dozen major evil fee spammers

And for $50 you could cancel the CancelMe service itself :)

Only after going through a dozen menus, calling a Voice System, and copying a special code from your e-mail into a small text box one character at a time : )

Better idea: ContestIt

file complaints with any number of credit card companies and collect statistics on the number of complaints vs. number of successful chargebacks by business, by CC company, and by industry. Sell the statistics. Use a pass-through form to handle the CC transaction, and be excruciatingly honest about how the process works.

Basically, act as an aggregator to get better leverage and provide convenience to individuals.

Not sure the profit model on this one -- seems like once the data is correlated it's just the same data, whereas a service would have individual meaning to each customer (a la "get these clowns off my back!")

I can think of at least five other "cousins" of this idea. No matter how you do it, there's a big imbalance between providers and consumers -- and wherever there is an imbalance, there is economic opportunity.

The profit model for the aggregate data is marginal (above that for an individual consumer), it's just a means of squeezing extra revenue out of the equation. Sort of like Consumer Reports or JD Power -- they're mostly there to sell a service, but as a result of the data they collect, they also have leverage with manufacturers (in addition to trust from consumers).

Say, $10 to file and pursue any number of contested charges in one go. Stand-in for the consumer as contact and email them whenever their intervention is required (eg. limited power of attorney). Over time, develop statistics to either serve as positive ("99.9% of disputes amicably resolved without chargebacks") or negative (publish a list of the worst offenders and their average resolution times) reinforcement.

See also RescueTime :-) for examples of a service that extracts marginal revenue from aggregating data.

Got it -- thanks.

Oh man...this sounds similar to turbo tax online...when I filed my taxes for last year, at the end of the process I upgraded to the next level which was of course more expensive. Then the upgrade did not really help with the return and I decided to downgrade back to the standard personal level...but..oh no...I could not downgrade at all..WTF...and their site says once you upgrade you cannot downgrade...that's a boat load of whatever...but I would never imagine LinkedIn doing something similar...the error is probably temporary..

I had almost exactly the same experience, through the error message when I submitted my comment to their "customer service" people. The message still went through and they did cancel my unintentional "subscription". My error occured because the system somehow decided that I wanted to create an account at the same time as I submitted my message, but an account with my email address already exists (for obvious reasons).

Hope your email goes through as well.

I really like LinkedIn. It's been useful to my business a bunch of times. But I've never been tempted to pay for it. What prompted you to upgrade your account?

I signed up in order to send a message to someone outside of my network.

Oh. I've always wondered if that works. Did it? Did they respond?

I get a lot of mileage out of the brokered introduction feature.


Me too.

I don't know if this one is different from the link you used, but it seemed to submit for my test email. I chose Premium Accounts > Cancel-Downgrade as the categories.


I've downgraded from them. Yes, they only do it by email, but they did it like they said.

They need to fix it though.

Xing isn't any better.

When you register, you get all the features. After a month, when you don't upgrade your account, you only see who was on your profile (picture) but can't click on them. You can't even send messages to your friends anymore. You can't search for people, etc...

Any idle News.YC'ers in Mountain View? Perhaps a personal visit...


They're just down the road from me, I'll go say hi :)

Although many people use LinkedIN, I don't as there are many things in thier T&C I am not happy with regarding the sharing of my personal information and those in my network.

It's basically my resume; I'm OK with people circulating it. =)

Any examples?

I mean in that it can sold on to third parties.

Is that opportunity I hear knocking at the market's door?

Yes, I had to write them too. I spent a bunch of time discovering that. It's piss poor customer service. I'm over it.

How's that down arrow coming along?

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