Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Netflix stops charging customers who never watch (bbc.com)
723 points by d99kris on May 23, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 500 comments

Years ago, I heard of a dating site doing the opposite of this. They normally sent periodic digests and newsletters to their users to try to increase engagement, but if a user went a certain number of months without logging into their account, but still allowed monthly fees to be charged, they were labeled as a “sleeping giant” in the database. Once in this state, they would not be contacted by the site for any reason until they logged in again by their own initiative. The site had determined that, on average, contacting these users had a net-negative effect on retention — i.e., they would be reminded that they were paying for an unused service and cancel.

I'm getting charged by rhapsody.com every quarter for no apparent reason. I used their service like may be 8 years ago. They have a phone number in their merchant line which is invalid. When I filed request to void the charge to American Express, initially they declined! Then I filed appeal with angry comments and they finally voided it. It took over two months for the process. I just saw new Rhapsody charge again. The credit card companies literally have no control over who can charge us.

If anyone at stripe is reading this, I think this is golden opportunity for consumer focused payment service. One should be at least able to block a merchant from charging my card. I can do that for spammer email but can't do that for spam charge on my card - in 2020!

Companies that make it difficult to unsubscribe should be penalised, I live in Europe and got the New York Times on a 12 month trial for €4 a month. Trial just ended and it's now €8 a month, only way to cance is to ring them, have tried once so far and was on hold for 20 mins before I hung up. There should be a law that if you can sign up online you can cancel online.

Actually we have such a law in the EU. Not sure what it's called, but I'm sure it exists.

I believe the wording to be something like it has to be possible to cancel in a similar way you signed up.

If it exists, it is not followed.

In France, Le Monde (most famous daily newspaper) requires you to send a paper mail (and not a regular mail, but a registered mail, which costs around 5-10€) to cancel your subscription. Even if you subscribed on the website, for a 100% online subscription.

It's really shady.

I had a case with another company. They required a letter to cancel, so I sent an email. Got automated reply that they have received it and later an email that they required a letter. I sent back an email pointing to the law. After some weeks I got a claim from a debt collection agency. I sent the email history to the agency, it did take less than 1 hour before they answered that all claims where dropped since it wasn't a legal claim

> "In France, Le Monde (most famous daily newspaper) requires you to send a paper mail (and not a regular mail, but a registered mail, which costs around 5-10€) to cancel your subscription."

What is it with French companies? BlueCity, the UK arm of the French "Autolib" car sharing service, had this same ridiculous "send us a letter in the post to cancel" policy. Since they charged to a credit card rather than use direct debit like most UK companies would, you couldn't easily cancel the payments through your bank either.

Since I'm quite lazy I never got around to sending them the letter and the £5/month continued (and I did use the service, occasionally). Finally a few months ago they went out of business and the charges stopped.

Can you not call the bank to block the card on account of fraud and get a new one? The subsequent payments would surely be declined...

In the UK, last time I did this my bank themselves have shared the updated details with which they could charge me again.

Ugh, that sucks. I've changed banks for less.

It's quite a hassle, you don't have your card for a few days..

Yes a lot of French companies do this, I signed up for gym membership at fitness park on the internet, they had the same behavior.

yeah, when i saw that i got so mad that I created a virtual credit card, changed the billing method, and then deleted the card. You can not imagine the big smile on my face when i received the email "we cannot charge you"....

Reaaaaaally big smile on my face

I tried that with rebel.ca (domain reg) a few years ago. They setup this dark pattern where domains wouldn't expire they get renewed two months before they were due.

In my case they froze the account preventing me from moving domains. I called support and they unfroze it. The next night the system it froze again. It became a race, manually moving 200 domains over in 12 hours. They don't allow bulk moves and you can't quickly open each domain for editing in a separate tab.

Fyi: Why move. There prices went up to some crazy amount $30 for a .org 60% more for[a .ca it ended up costing me hundreds extra one month. Glad I caught it...

Where'd you move to? Namesilo's been fantastic to me after transitioning from ENOM years ago.

I moved to 10dollar.ca for my .ca domains.

How can i create such a virtual card?

Some credit card companies have card generators (Capital one has Eno, Amex has one I believe, Citi calls it Virtual Card Generator etc) but you can also use privacy.com, revolut and I think there's an app called token or something?

I think I pay for everything online with my privacy cards now. It's just easier to keep track of stuff when you get alerts after a company charges a closed card, or tries to charge you more than your card limit that you set up.

There a few options for virtual cards. Ive been using https://privacy.com/.

I’ve been using this not only for subscriptions, but also when I’m making an online purchase at a store that I think may not have the best security in place.

I only use virtual cards for online payments. I use Citi and they have an option to generate a card with specific amount and expiry.

Last I checked, Citi's virtual card feature inexplicably requires Flash. I was like "I thought that was dead?"

This was true for Bank of America, too, at least in December 2018.

I had a few like that as well but they were going through PayPal, pretty satisfying to block alright.

That's illegal in the EU. So you could just send them a cancellation email and stop paying.

You can but they won't stop charging your card. They have the credit card number, so the only way would be to change the payment method to an invalid card.

Another comment actually says that he managed to create a virtual credit card, change the payment method, and delete the card. Quite clever. It's a shame that methods like this have to be used instead of just the click of a button.

Can't you start issuing chargebacks? Chase is not the most Lawful Good of banks but I have to admit that on the times I needed someone to GTFO my credit card, they had my back.

Chargebacks don't exist in France.

In the EU you can ask your bank or credit card provider to block subscription payments from specific merchants. This is something EU requires them to support.

>You can but they won't stop charging your card.

Report the transactions as fraudulent, they'll soon stop.

That’s the problem with credit cards. Once they have your number, it’s very difficult to “stop paying”.

Do people really have the same credit card number for that long? I feel like every year I end up with a new card for one reason or another and suddenly I have to track down all the places that can no longer process my payments.

I learned that you can request a replacement card with the same number, which I was initially very excited about. But when you get the new card it has a different expiration date, so it still needs to be updated most places.

There's a process for some card providers by which merchants can automatically update their card details for recurring purchases. Visa calls it Account Updater and at least Braintree has had support for it for over a decade.

Well that would be super convenient for me. At this point I'm just slowly transitioning to always using my checking account number directly for payment since that is stable.

The risk with that is you have no ability to contest a charge. With a credit card, you can contest and the card issuer will do a chargeback to return the funds.

Netflix US charged our new Citibank credit card at least 3 times based on a fraudulent purchase (somehow someone had made a Netflix account with our credit card number).

On top of that it wasn't even activated because we'd stopped using Citibank to simplify our accounting and just hadn't cancelled entirely yet. Backdoors exist apparently for recurring charges that roll over onto new cards for "customer convenience" because you wouldn't want to miss your bills and lose access to Netflix.

In my (recent) experience, periodic charges are automatically applied to a new card, even if it has a new number. For your convenience, if you forgot to update your payment info...

Well I guess maybe I don't need to worry about it as much then. You'd think companies would do a better job informing people of that.

I think it's one of those things that doesn't necessarily happen when you want it to, but happens when you don't.

> it’s very difficult to “stop paying”.

"Hi, these are unauthorised, fraudulent transactions, please revert them and block future charges from that merchant"

That's all it takes with Amex and most others AFAICT.

Amex is particularly good at these things. Not in the last place because they have actual humans answering the phone and fixing things. On the other hand, their fees are much higher than the others so you're paying for it as well.

If you can charge-back, it will damage their credit each time.

It may not be followed in every country, but at least in Denmark the "forbrugerombudsmanden" slams down on things like that, I think that they recently sent out a message that online services should be able to be unsubscribed online as well.

Also that you should sent out an option to cancel, before each withdraw for the membership.

Really? Not done by any of the Danish services I subscribe to

Let them come after you. Just cancel the service in the same way you signed up (send an e-mail if you've signed up online), and then stop paying them (or block the direct debits, or reverse the credit card charges). I haven't had any company that actually bothered to send it to collections (or even sue me). Only once I got a mail that I hadn't payed, and when I replied with the cancellation e-mail attached, they said "oh, ok" and never bothered me again.

I've had a German collection come after me for 2 years with payment notices. I had unsubscribed by mail (which they got) and some email.

They stopped last year after I wrote to them I considered I didn't own anything (a human probably read the file and dropped it).

As for media companies with cheap offers and shady cancelation tactics, I discovered the following: I send them a cancelation by eMail citing a german court ruling that states (roughly) "If you subscribe electronically, you must be able to unsubscribe electronically". I additionally cc one or two journalists writing about consumer issues (sometimes on cancelation oh joy) on the topics from that exact media.

Works every time.

And if you want to rub salt in the wound, request a detailed gdpr information about you and your account. gdpr even applies if it is not a european country based media company.

The GDPR does apply to foreign companies that trade within the EU but does not (because it cannot) apply outside of the EU’s jurisdiction.

Which basically means that if the foreign company tries to collect, sends to an EU collection agency, .... they come in jurisdiction. So they can only bark but not bite.

That's like saying American law doesn't apply to Russian citizens in Russia when it clearly does.

The court may struggle to apply it's judgements, especially if there isn't an applicable extradition situation, but all it takes is one representitive of the company to go to Europe and they are open to things like arrest for not following the judgement of the court

Only if you have no people or capital in the EU. If you were a small business that sounds correct, but every medium to large business I have worked at has had at least something important going on in europe (clients, suppliers, offices, etc).

Even a small business might have an employee visit europe on holiday, and then you're screwed.

Almost certainly false in practice. It would be shady bordering on illegal to detain a mere employee of a GDPR violator. Unless you are a famous employee of a big company that was egregiously flouting the GDPR but also had no other ties to the EU, then maybe you’d rethink your holiday plans.

If you want to say: This does not apply to a non EU citizen in an non EU country, you are correct.

But if you do business in the EU - i.e. have advertising from EU companies inside your media website or you are already dealing with the EU AND you have readers/users in the EU that pay for your service, it makes you instantly responsible for being GDPR compliant if you like it or not.

This is why some media companies block EU ip-address ranges not to fall into that "trap".

> But if you do business in the EU

Yes, that’s exactly what I said. I’m confused about what you’re think you’re clarifying.

The GDPR also applies to non-EU companies in non-EU countries targeting EU nationals, although it can not be directly enforced (yet).

Only if there’s a clear link to the EU. Not refusing to sell to EU residents isn’t sufficient to show targeting—but offering Euro pricing or Swedish language options might be.

And at the end of the day, all law fits into the cross-section of jurisdiction and motivation. If you’re a Singaporean company offering global services, there’s no jurisdiction and (unless your activities are especially egregious) no prospect of motivation.

I believe there is also another EU law that requires banks and credit card providers to support merchant blocking.

If you’re struggling to cancel a subscription, contact your bank and ask them to block the subscription.

I know only a law in germany where you have to be able to cancel your phone contracts with the same medium you accepted them... But I don't know anything about more broad laws.

There is a similar sounding provision in GDPR, which requires that it is as straightforward to withdraw consent as it is to grant it (i.e. it must be possible through the same procedure, so preventing postal letters being sent to a dedicated address). Not sure if there's a similar provision for cancelling paid services, but potentially if the service relies on consent for data processing, you could use GDPR grounds to force a cancellation through the same means you signed up.

It's worth a try, but GDPR specifically excludes contractual information. So if you have pending bills, whatever info they need to charge you is not protected by GDPR. And even after you pay, they still need your name for accounting purposes (you received $100 last year? from whom exactly? will the law ask, and you have to be able to answer)

I think you might mean the GDPR interpretation about signing up online meaning you should be able to access, modify, remove online etc.

We need a law that requires it to be no more difficult to unsubscribe from anything then it is to subscribe to that thing. If you can subscribe with one click on the website then you must be able to unsubscribe with one click on the website. The law should make it individually actionable in small claims court for each subscriber that is inconvenienced to recover damages and not allow arbitration clauses to override that right.

This reminds me of my gym membership. They said I had to come in person to cancel it instead of by phone. So I cancelled my credit card naively thinking that my gym membership would be cancelled. After a few months I get letters and calls from a collection agency demanding the monthly payments and an additional late fee of $100

I didn't know they locked you into this dark pattern. New York Times has lost a lot of quality recently. They keep afloat from past reputation.

Between pricing games and how hard it is to unsubscribe, I won't give them a penny.

Washington Post gives you upfront yearly billing and cancellation is a few clicks, and I am a happy paying customer for them.

I really like reading nytimes and have a digitial subscription since a year back (EU citizen) but wanted to cancel it to get away from the news cycles for a while, but now found out that there is no option to cancel other than calling a phone number.

The signup page mentions canceling subscriptions several times, which isn't false, but it isn't what you expect from a subscription-based page in 2020. This is in my opinion a dark pattern today. It probably would have been ok...20 years ago!

Ironically they even shed light on these things a few years back, warning about different patterns: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/technology/personaltech/w...

One reason I try to never give my card to lots of websites. If they have paypal, good. Or playstore subscription, sure. A one time/non recurring payment via a platform/provider/bank, ok.

But never the card. Reading such user horror stories, or Terms & Conditions, makes me turn around and never come back.

Paypal allows canceling subscription but they have hid this link deep inside. I don't know how well that even works. Also, Paypal payment protection is basically a joke. If you get dupped by someone and try to get refund through their payment protection, you get nothing no matter how right you are. That's my first hand experience.

After my kid was banned on Fortnite, I filed a bunch of paypal chargebacks on Epic Games for all the packs and extensions we bought, going back like 8 months. Got all of them back.

Not to say that Paypal won't screw you over, just that it doesn't do so all the time.

My understanding of paypal is that it screws people receiving money more than those paying via it.

I use a separate credit card for paying on dodgy services. Restaurants and small stores abroad, online payments not via PayPal, things like these.

Relatively few monthly statements on it make anything funny stand out, and it's easy to just report/cancel the card.

Always makes sense of having a separate card for online stuff (shop, subscriptions, etc). But having to go to the bank and renew, create a new one, the waiting lines.

Some banks have web/mobile banking where you can restrict actions/limits/transactions, so it's a good option too.

Others have virtual cards for this purpose, but these are not offered in a lot of countries (revolut, privacy, yandex money, etc).

I guess the amount of hassle is specific to the country. The last time I had to go to a physical branch here was… 2006 maybe?

You apply for the card online and get it in the post.

check out privacy.com

I never use PayPal as they still keep over thousand pound due some bullshit reason and don't want to release it. And it's pain to get to speak to a human. Currently, it's at the Financial Ombudsman

When I was in Europe for a holiday I subscribed to Eurosport to watch the tennis. Unfortunately, when I returned to my country, due to geofencing, I could not access the relevant Eurosport site to cease the subscription... Fortunately it was via Paypal and I could achieve the same outcome by revoking the authority...

Yeah, agreed. I canceled my NYT subscription a while back in protest over some of their editorial misbehavior. It took me weeks to get in canceled and all my money back. Especially frustrating is that they dragged out the process and then charged me for the time that I was trying to unsubscribe. Eventually I just made American Express take the extra $2 back.

I want to resubscribe eventually, as they put out a lot of good journalism. But there is no way in hell I'm doing it until it's as easy to quit as to join.

One sort of workaround is to subscribe through Apple. Then cancelling is as simple as toggling your subscription to Off. As an added bonus, when you subscribe this way, you do not even have to give the NYT any of your contact info - Apple has it set-up so you can use randomized tokens to login. One of the many things I appreciate that Apple does.

Use one of the services that allow you to generate a temporary credit card with set limits. That way you have lot more control.

Same story with myself and NYT almost a decade ago. Keep an eye on your statements: they kept charging me and I kept needing to cancel for 3ish more months until it all finally stopped.

California has such a law, and at least on one website I changed my address from WA to California do it would show me the option to cancel directly on the website.

I believe Visa has started working on requiring platforms "Provide customers with a digital or SMS cancellation method", though due to Covid it's been pushed back a year [1].

1. https://support.stripe.com/questions/2020-visa-trial-subscri...

This sounds like a good and sensible step. It is a shame it has been pushed back due to Covid, as this is really not a particularly onerous requirement. Given how many companies are resorting to limited "service levels" as they have emptied their call centres and contact centres, it seems this should be expedited rather than delayed.

Yeah, Adobe did this to me, then I reminded them that they broke Dutch law by increasing my contract term by 1 year after a year (this can only be done automatically for a month), after talking to bosses of bosses of bosses they finally ended my subscription.

As someone fromnEurope, I was in the same boat as you with a NY Times trial subscription. I didn't even tried to call them, since they not only require you to call them to cancel your subscription, but do it during US east coast office hours too.

In the end I just canceled the recurring payment contract at PayPal. A few weeks later I received a 'Sorry to see you go' email from them and that was it.

I'm not sure if credit cards also allow you to cancel recurring payment contracts, but sepa directdebit does (which is the payment method used if you used for example the Dutch iDeal payment method as initial payment.

You can also cancel the NYTimes by chat. Still painful, but easier and faster than by phone.

As a private consumer, likely the law of your place of residency applies and they may be obligated to honour all kinds of cancellations, e.g. in California. https://www.cnet.com/news/companies-must-let-customers-cance...

Depending on the law if your jurisdiction, an email may be enough. Then cancel any future charges on your CC.


It would be interesting to see a credit card company differentiate on this. Have an internal team which works through the various companies (presumably in order of popularity) and does the leg work of figuring out how to subscribe. So the customer would be presented with: Go to these locations and upload this information. Or even: Enter your username and password and this information and our scripts will unsubscribe you.

Some credit card companies do allow you to generate extra CC numbers. You can use one per service, and nuke the card to unsubscribe

I had exactly the same issue and worked around it by switching my payment method to Paypal and then cancelling the subscription agreement in Paypal.

That might be dangerous. At least in Germany there's a difference between the service agreement and the payment. As long as you don't cancel the service, if you are not paying you just amass more and more money that you owe them.

If you're an Apple user, subscribe through their in-app purchase with Apple. Apple lets you cancel monthly subscriptions fairly easily.

“Legally speaking, we can’t allow you to cancel via the app. You can only cancel via a web browser but unfortunately that system is down. Please mail a letter to PO Box 937192 or send a fax. We will process your cancellation with 4-6 weeks once we have the legally required paper request. Thank you for being a valued customer.”

“But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

We have that law in California. A trick for non-californians is to change your address to a California one and sometimes the site will let you cancel. Depends if they use your shipping or billing address though.

Exactly same issue a few years ago with The Times in the UK, with the ringing and very odd restricted availability hours, except they also said it was “technically impossible” to cancel without charging three more “monthly” charges.

I cancelled my card and somehow they managed to rescind access.

Same with me. And somehow, their online costumer service was always unavailable... What a coincidence! Luckily, in my country there is a service that allows us to create temporary credit cards and I had subscribed with one. It was just a matter of canceling that card.

Which service is it?

Also in Europe, I tried unsubscribing by SMS, and it seems to be pretty frustrating, I confirmed a few times I wanted to cancel and instead all I got was more questions and offers.

In the end I took the offer of 25 cents a week for a year, waiting to see how they'll charge my PayPal.

Thanks for sharing this. This sounds absurd and discourages me from supporting them.

On the other hand I cancelled and re-enabled netflix a number of times. I’m currently subscribed and happy that I can change it anytime.

Email them and say you want to cancel and state that you're deaf so you can't do it over the phone. They have to oblige because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Tell your credit card company that it’s an unauthorized charge and request a new credit card. Some will even ship it expedited for free if you request it.

I have a NY Times subscription and didn't know this.

Shady, shady.

I use a virtual card (valid only once) when there isn’t a simple and clear way to unsubscribe.

NYT is not even stopping me sending newsletters even after unsubscribing multiple times.

In Germany there is.

Maybe it's different based on how you signed up, or what kind of subscription you have, but for me at least there's a "cancel subscription" link when I go to manage my subscription online on this page: https://myaccount.nytimes.com/seg/subscription

I remember it didn't exist when I signed up a few years back, and they made a big deal about announcing that I could now cancel/change my subscription online when it launched.

Try clicking it, I see this when I do: https://imgur.com/a/zbVvCgj

Also, I live in California.

You're probably in California, or your account is tagged as being in CA.

Last time I fell for their tricks, the "cancel subscribtion" link pointed to a page with a phone number and no other options.

It's so frustrating because my credit card declines the most random things. But when a service charges me twice in one week after I've been subscribed and charged the same amount once a month for years, the charge goes through and I have to go through hoops to get that money back.

And credit cards do this other obnoxious thing where they update merchants when you get a new credit card. It would be great if they didn't do that because then you'd remember that you are paying for certain services you never use because you'd get a payment declined email. But nah credit card companies just let those scumbag merchants continue their shadow charges under the guise of it being more convenient. Certain services like energy bills, phone bills. Sure, update the merchant with the new credit card. But a gym!? Gtfo with that trash.

I'd rather they update all of my merchants instead of assume that I want to cancel this or that. Citi has a nice feature that shows you all of your recurring charges. Maybe try to use a feature like that?

I also have it set up to send a text message to my phone any time my card is used.

Didn't know about that citi feature! I'll look for it, ty. I do have alerts for charges >$x amount but it rarely gets triggered.

I set x=0 to get all of the alerts. I also found that the text notifications are more reliable than the app-based notifications.

This was a revelation sometimes back and it was Amex (relatively new in India) but I am sure it would be same for any credit card issuer. I had a VPS in Europe that I had emailed the support to cancel about a year ago and they had replied telling me I could do it myself (listed the steps) or they'd need another confirmation from me to go ahead and cancel. I forgot about it.

Got charged some 40 Euro a year later. I was shocked. My first thought was a compromised card. But immediately afterwards I received invoice from VPS provider. I called the bank and asked them how did that happen. They said it's possible. Lucky for me the provider immediately reversed the charge.

The thing is I had cancelled that Amex card almost a year before that charge had happened. It was still charged! I was baffled. Coming from a country where literally every credit card payment has to be authorised via an OTP or password (since as long as I can remember) it was a whole new world for me.

Well, that cancelled card was charged again (almost a year after I had the last experience) when I shopped at AliExpress and forgot to switch to a new card while making the payment. This time I just paid the bill and went around Internet removing that cancelled card.

If the card was cancelled, where did you see the charge, did you see it on your new Amex card statement?

India did not have the OTP option, RBI made it mandatory to prevent fraud.

Got an email. About the RBI bit - possibly, but I don't think I remember one without OTP or a password (it was verified by Visa I guess or something).

I think international transactions have some way to skip the OTP thing.

I started using privacy.com for this reason. You can spin up a separate card number for each transaction type with its own limit (e.g. $100/month or $200). You can also just turn them off at will.

Note: US-only at the moment, Privacy.com isn't available anywhere else.

There are other services, though not as advanced. In Europe you could use Revolut to create virtual disposable cards. They are more useful for one-time payments however.

privacy.com seems like such a sleek solution.

privacy.com looks great. I think the only disadvantage is that you lose all the 2-5% cashback, travel benefits and so on. I wish they could produce card while keeping these benefits but still its good card to have for shady websites.

I use privacy.com and my regular card. I use my privacy.com cards for sites where I think security is bad (like our local water company) and for recurring subscriptions on sites that I don't think will be easy to cancel.

It's a good compromise between protection and credit rewards.

Depending on who your card is through, some companies started offering this. It's often just hidden in the web UI.

Yep, Bank of America and Citi offer the same service. Not sure about others.

I haven't used SunTrust in a while but I know they offered the service back when I used them as well.

Looks great. Not available in my country :-(

What are the downsides? And what's their business model?

Credit card companies and banks receive 1-3% of commission on all of the transactions made throught he card. Banks normally pass parts of these along to the consumer in the form of cashback or other benefits. Privacy.com just uses these commisions as funding for their service. (I've read it somewhere on their site)

This is why I use Paypal for recurring services when possible. One list of all the items, and you can cancel the payment there easily.

Dodgy companies like the New York Times even do offline transactions to successfully charge canceled cards. I was able to cancel it by changing payment to Paypal.

It's funny that you mention NYT and Paypal. I signed up to support, but upon finding out that they still show ads to subscribed users, I wanted to cancel. Turns out you have to call them simply to cancel your subscription, which is the worst dark pattern of all.

I just swapped my subscription to Paypal, then blocked it in paypal. They then spent the next month sending me 8 emails asking me to fix my payment, which I all sent to the spam folder. I'm not a big fan of paypal, but definitely having control over your recurring payments is the best feature.

There's an asymmetry whenever you sign up for something. It's always them who determine the terms. I think there should be more consumer protection.

It is Amex so I am surprised. They do not give a crap about the merchant only members (from what I have seen) and this is a good thing. Call again, tell them you do not authorize any charges from rhapsody.com ever again and be done with it. They should just sort it. I have never had a bad experience with them. Years ago My wife and I where at LAX getting on a flight to London then connecting to Dublin. At the airport my wife released she forgot her card. Called. Agent said, I see you have a charge at this hotel in Dublin, is that where you are staying? Arrived in Dublin at the hotel around 12 hours later and there was an envelope with my wife’s new card.

I used their online form to void charge which requires me to write justifications. I wrote a paragraph of it explaining that I didn’t authorized that charge and that I can’t even contact Rhapsody, because of bad phone number they have put in Amex system. They have checkbox that requires me to say if I ever authorized merchant in the past and if it was a subscription. I had to say yes to that checkbox because I did had their subscription like 8 years ago. They then flatly and simply refused to void those charges without giving me any reason whatsoever or letting me know how do I even avoid the future charges. I then filed appeal where I threatened to cancel the card and after yet another month of “review” they finally voided it. My card is at “Gold” level, I pay close to $200 in membership fees and I easily qualify for their Platinum level according to their frequent spam. It’s most certainly not member oriented.

Call. A human will sort it.

Mastercard seems to be leading the way in fighting this type of behaviour. As of April 2019 they require notification at the end of free trials sending the customer a receipt and cancellation instructions. And Mastercard are looking into preventing recurring charges that you try to cancel.


I understand why card companies struggle to implement this while retaining good relations with merchants, but this does seem an opportunity for Stripe or similar.

You can "log into" a London TFL "account" that is effectively just your credit/debit card. That means that, at least in theory, Stripe could let you log in to a "shadow" account as a card holder.

I think the problem is that Stripe (and others) don't want to upset merchants by making it possible for people to cancel "fixed term" subscriptions, where the merchant claims the customer has entered a contract to pay for X months.

Agreed entirely though - I would really like to see privacy.com style "limited authentication value/merchant card numbers" take off more and become a "default". This has added privacy benefits too, as it means for anyone other than the CC issuer, it will become very difficult to link digital transactions.

Actually stripe supports a visa and mastercard service that automatically updates the card number if it gets changed.

“ Apple Card has awesome features but the most important of them all, at leasts from a security standpoint, is probably the ability to generate virtual card numbers on demand, which will come in handy for those times when you won’t necessarily trust the recipient.”

it's funny because:

1. Citibank did this for a long time. They still might. I remember using this in the late 2000s for some online services at the time.

2. Apple and Google Pay both do this as well, though these are all one-time-use implementations.

It's sold as this pretty revolutionary feature that others have done (in some capacity) for quite a while now.

Bank of America and https://privacy.com/ Have done this for years too.

BoA discontinued that service (ShopSafe) last year, and it had basically been abandoned for a few years before that since it required Flash and was never a part of their mobile app.

A feature isn't revolutionary until people use it.

Apple didn't invent virtual numbers, but they have a better implementation than Citibank. It's Apple's MO.

There's a Brazilian credit card company that gives you a virtual credit card. You can generate as many new credit cards as you want, even multiple times a day, to use for online banking exclusively.

I think privacy.com does a similar service, but I loved to have this feature for no extra cost. I assume it also benefits the CC company a bunch with happy customers and less labor costs since people will be calling less for this kind of situation.

I really like it that my bank allows me to refuse payment, or just set the payment limit per company (I would set this to 0). Or I could just delete my virtual MasterCard altogether.

We need to be empowered against these practices.

Btw, Very nice of Netflix to do this!

I'm always curious if deceptive actions like these are approved by an individual, a committee, or are perhaps a byproduct of unrelated tasks driven by lazy oversight shrouded by process.

> The credit card companies literally have no control over who can charge us.

That's not quite true. The card network can refuse a merchant for any reason, constantly making bogus charges would probably be a good reason for the network to refuse them and that's likely to be the result. Of course you don't see if your bogus charge was reflective of 0.01% of the charges from this merchant or 99.9%

However as I've explained on HN a few times there's an important distinction between two separate payment card processes: Authorization and Settlement.

Authorization is the one with PINs and online referral and even getting a call from your bank about "possible fraud". Authorization protects the bank from fraud by customers (you're a necessary evil to them) and merchants by automatically collecting evidence that both authorized this to happen. Once upon a time that meant taking an "impression" and a few merchants still do that, today it may mean redirecting customers to a half-arsed HTTPS site or an EMV PIN terminal.

Settlement moves money. The merchant tells the network that they want $85.26 from card #1234567890 and usually that will just result in them receiving $85.26

These two systems aren't tied together. If there are two authorizations against your card this week for $20.00 and $35.26 but also three settlements for $19.86, $209.42 and $20.00 respectively, it's likely no alarm bells go off, this is fine, you pay $249.28

One reason it is this way is that while Settlement is essential to the idea in the first place (if the merchants don't get money what's the point?), Authorization is dozens of extra things tacked on over time and so each has to be optional or the system would fail.

This means important safeguards in Authorization don't actually safeguard you, only your issuer (in your case Amex)

For example: Modern Authorization schemes are replay resistant. When you pay with an EMV card the merchant gets a one-time "cryptogram" that isn't reusable. Buying a $5 product, walking out of the store, then realising you needed two, so you go back and buy another $5 product results in two entirely different cryptograms for the two Authorizations. The store can't present a third Authorization because it would need a new cryptogram.

BUT Settlement isn't replay resistant. When (not if, this really happens) an IT mistake results in running all the Settlement for a merchant twice, customers just all get charged twice, again no flags are raised automatically, it will take until either somebody confesses their error or more likely angry customers start calling their issuers to complain.

For individuals the only advice is: Check your statements, demand that line items you can't explain be reversed, and try to pick an issuer who is on your side.

You obviously understand payment systems more deeply but to me this is like someone explaining why I need to deal with mainframes with tap drives in 2020. Many of us don't even need credit cards, we just need a way to transfer existing money from our bank account on agreed upon transactions safely. There are far more modern ways to electronically "agree" on a transaction then to use exact same 19 digit number for every single transaction for every single merchant everywhere. We need certainty for protection against frauds. Transactions should literally be instant but undoable change in bits in electronic databases without having these arcane settlements and authorization non-sense. Even if there are edge cases like offline merchant in Africa, credit card companies need to be able support all of below and there are exactly zero technical reasons why they cannot:

1. Consumer should always be able to blacklist a merchant or provide a whitelist

2. Consumer should always be able to set limit how much a given merchant can ever charge him/her and during what time windows

3. Consumer should always be able to set total limit of charges he/she wants to have at any time

4. Consumer should always be able to get phone number, mailing address and correct full legal name of any merchant who puts charge

5. Consumer should always be able to generate new electronic card number for online usage and dispose off any previous one at will

"Check your statements" is an useless advice. My experience is that even when you find out bad charge, you have to go through hoops and appeals which may take weeks or even months. There are zero guarantees same charge from same merchant won't happen again. The only single case when CC companies are willing to take off charge immediately is when you say you don't recognize merchant at all and its 100% fraudulent. If you say you once authorized that merchants a decade ago, its suddenly your fault and you are looking at writing up justifications which will likely get rejected any way.

What you've got here is an is/ought distinction.

You're telling me how you think the universe ought to be but my advice was about how the universe is.

I suppose what OP is saying is, if an innovative company figured out how to do those things, obviously using the technology/universe we already have, then they'd have him as a customer and/or investor. They'd have me too. These are all great consumer-focused features that would be game-changers for a credit card company.

It's simply utterly bananas that all it takes is for someone to get a few numbers from me, and then they have the ability to arbitrarily take my money, making it my problem to dispute it. This goes for credit cards and ACH transfers (which only require routing number and account number). The company who figures out how to fix this will have it made.

From what I've read, privacy.com is quite precisely this company and offers this product. Their copy claims it's free for personal use.

To what extent they "have it made" is an open question, but I am curious what you have to say about their signup process.

Isn't this what Venmo and Zelle are doing (sorry US perspective here)? The trick is to get companies to accept payments via those methods where the customer has control over the recurring payment.

It's probably worth reporting your card as lost and to get a new one. They won't be able to charge you then.

If only that were the case... But actually there is a service Credit Card companies offer which will automatically update your number with merchants who charge you regularly.

Very helpful /s

Report your old card stolen, and renew the card. Also makes sense to use virtual cards for future purchases.

> Report your old card stolen, and renew the card.

As someone who shops online at a much wider diversity of vendors than amazon.com, My card actually gets compromised about once a year and needs its number changed. I don't mind the hassle because it forces me to update the payment method for my recurring charges. On more than one occasion when I re-evaluated whether I really still needed some random subscription, I decided that it wasn't worth it any more to me.

On that note, I'm amazed how many accounts with outstanding balances have been next to impossible to close out by simply sending a physical check to an address. On the phone, they insist, "If you'll just give us your new credit card number, we'll get this all taken care of now." I respond, "I'm not giving you my credit card number because I don't trust that you'll actually stop charging me. I'm happy to send you a check in the mail to pay off my balance." Then it's often, "Uhhhhh, I don't know how to do that. My computer program requires that I enter your credit card number in this field to process. Please just give me your credit card number and stop making my life so difficult."

By the time everything is said and done (and escalated), they always end up finding a way to accept a check in the mail.

your credit card 8 years ago had an expiration date beyond 2020?

The major credit card companies have a service where they can notify the merchant of the new details when the card expires. I believe Visa calls it Account Updater.


can I get the opposite of that?

Try Privacy.com

if you pay with paypal, you get a UI for managing payment permissions and merchants.

Yeah, sleepers make up a large if not a majority of many recurring revenues. I once worked at a very popular online service where I was in charge of the payments team. We had many ways to subscribe or upgrade, but to cancel it online was possible but very difficult. The cancel option was hidden under many clicks and dropdowns. That was mandated from C-level management even though we kept imploring to allow us to make it more obvious.

I think the majority instead contacted customer services to manually cancel it. Some also did a chargeback, which companies hate as it is expensive.

But in the end, there were so many sleepers that every time there was a plan to email all customers about an offer, or new service, it was always raised that it might make a lot of customers aware that they have the subscription, or check with their kids if they still need it, so sometimes the mailshots were filtered to active members, or just skipped all together etc. It was an uneasy balance of "don't touch", and never felt nice.

Last year I was contracted back to that company to help sunset the product I worked on years before, writing tools to notify and cancel all recurring payments. A huge chunk of customers was then sleepers that had not logged for 7-9 years. I do wonder how many were surprised when they got the cancellation email! :)

Just makes you realize how catastrophically bad our system serves us.

It's beyond insane how, in the USA at least, you give someone a string of numbers and they basically get pull access to your money for what might as well be perpetuity. And that you have to use to a specific bank, Paypal, Apple Pay, etc. to have a system as simple as a list of entities authorized to bill you in the future. And the ability to terminate those permissions.

Just think how well most people would be served financially if everyone was receiving phone notifications when they were recur-rebilled. "$15 to 24-Hour Fitness" popups up on their homescreen. And they could cancel the permission. Or at least just think "hmm, what's that for? Ah, right, I do want to continue being billed."

It takes a lot of mental gymnastics and charity to imagine how this system wasn't expressly designed by and for the enrichment of grifters.

The Economist did this to me. $5/mo and then auto renewed at something like $250/yr. All my credit cards are just auto pay full balance every month, and I don't check them as often as I should. Noticed the charge last month, found out they had been charging me for years for their digital subscription.

Had a similar experience with The Economist, it's also impossible to cancel your subscription online, you have to call them.

My economist sub renewed at a cheaper/more reasonable rate (I think the common $130/yr that's at least better than newsstand) but I just think their subscription services are in the utter dark ages. Changing anything (Updating an expired credit card, change of address, etc) is painful.

Address was pretty easy, but if you don’t have the link they emailed you when your credit card expires then it is pretty much impossible to update your payment information.

What happens if you block them, or your credit card, so they'll get no money?

Is there any risk they'd sue you? Or other auto renew services, what do you, or others, think — do they sometimes sue their customers whose credit card expired?

That sounds annoying b.t.w., having to call them etc.

I believe it’s fine to simply email them. The self service on the Economists website is notoriously bad. It’s not really because it’s not working or that hard to use, it’s just insanely poorly organized.

Cancelling my Economist subscription was the biggest hassle.

You need write an email with order date, current billing cycle, reference number and more.

All the while there you can manage parts of your subscription through a portal. They just try to make cancellation as laborious as possible.

That’s just insane, other than trying make cancellation harder there’s no reason that your supscription number shouldn’t be sufficient.

It’s uncommon, but some will send your account to a collection agency, which has automated the process of causing you enough trouble that you’re likely to just pay if it’s a small amount.

This happened to me, but I had to laugh when I discovered that the agency's tactics were limited to a few stroppy letters and a couple of phone calls that went:

"Hello sir, this is (collections agency). Can you confirm your address, please?" "No." "I'll have to end the call then." "Okay."

I would feel awful if I caved in and paid money I don't owe just because a company told me to.

I don't know the situation in US, or other places, but companies don't have time to deal with legal issues, regarding user debt, so they delegate this process to collector agencies.

And those agencies are very happy to assist, since they get a % for their work, and when the money is big. Most of they time it's very productive. Letters and calls are just the first step. A debt of 300$ can get to x000 pretty fast (debt, fees, lawyers). And then they go to court, put financial blocking on your assets, there is a judiciary person in charge of evaluating your assets, bank accounts, they can even freeze your debt from your bank accounts if you are refusing to pay a legal debt.

If you are abroad they will happily wait for you when you will get back, or get in touch via one of their foreign agency and let you know they are near.

If they would really want to get you in trouble they can inform the foreign local authorities about your problems, so depending on the case they can create problems for you.

They claim that, but I got around it with an email to support.

I cancelled my subscription in 2018 via e-mail.

I like my credit card's mobile app because of this problem - it pops a notification for every charge, so even auto-pay things show up as a reminder.

Check if your local library offers ebooks and emagazines it might include The Economist. I am member of the Westminster Library here in London and they have The Economist for reading via RBDigital:


Have to admit RBDigital ain't the best reading experience but good enough to read The week and The Economist for free :)

I even have PressReader access so many magazines to read :))

If you have a Kindle, you can read The Economist for free each week using Calibre. The Economist is one the News Sources in Calibre that you can schedule for sending to your Kindle. It arrives each Friday morning with all the articles, without the ads.

Interesting I didn't know that. I have to say I am not a huge fan of reading magazines on the Kindle. The library is basically PDF style

Financial Times was the worst. It was like $1 for the first three months then SHOT UP to $70/month. I think they finally added it to their subscription page but it was a huge surprise.

I’ve looked at the FT signups a lot over the years and don’t think they ever hid that information.

I do think a $1 trial is incongruent with their overall pricing.

Same here with NYT cooking.

I’m quite sure hellosign does this as well. I did not receive a single email from them for two years, but they charged me $140 two times. I never used their paid offering. The second year, I never even logged in. I received no marketing emails, no “you’re about to be billed” emails, no “we received your payment” emails. It seems wrong.

This is why privacy.com is great. Whenever I sign up for a subscription, I create a virtual card and after paying for the first month, I "pause" the card (ie. decline all additional charges). When I get the notification that my payment failed and I'm actually getting value out of the subscription, I log in and change the status to "active" again.

It sounds as if you are not worried that they would sue you?

What are the reasons you feel safe? (Then maybe I could try this me too)

> It sounds as if you are not worried that they would sue you?

Netflix subscriptions are prepaid. What on earth would give them the idea to sue if your card is declined?

If your current month runs out and your renewal is declined, they just don't authorize you for a second month of service. There's no breach of contract, there's no debt for services rendered, I can't think of a single motivation to sue for this.

What am I missing here?

The post was probably referring to companies/subscriptions in general. The "contract" is separate from the method & frequency of the payments => even if you stop paying you still own them the old&new amount(s) as long as the contract hasn't been cancelled/terminated.

Companies in Germany will actually keep raking up your debt and call a collections agency on you. It's horrible.

They could leave your account open, wait 10 years, then sue you for not paying your bills.

They could do that, yes. They could also open an account automatically in your name and then sue you over it. I expect both would be equally successful.

The former could be a natural consequence of neglect + shareholders asking why the cash influx is too low considering the number of actual subscribers.

The latter would be fraud.

Many if not most agreements these days seem to specify charging up front and reserve the right to cancel your service for any reason, so credit doesn't enter into it. I don't know about Netflix specifically.

What seems more likely is that they would blacklist you if you're obnoxious.

Years ago, my CC expired with an active Xbox Live sub attached (I moved overseas). Microsoft flagged my account as bad in some way, and years later when I moved back and tried to resub they didn't let me. Their loss, as I never spent another $ on Xbox after having purchased over 30 360 titles and been a Live subscriber since day 1.

Why would a company sue a consumer because of a cancelled credit card?

A cancelled credit card does not mean bills are automatically void or the recurring subscription cancelled, but it's a scale whether it's worth it for the company to try to collect or not.

If your rent autobill fails, I think everyone realizes it doesn't mean you don't have to pay. If the credit card for your gym membership expires, I think most people would likewise fear (and has been known to happen) that your bill would eventually be sent to collections. A $5/mo subscription? Not worth the time of the company to try to collect. A Salesforce or Adobe subscription on a card? I certainly wouldn't gamble on that, and would try to properly cancel the subscription.

> A cancelled credit card does not mean bills are automatically void or the recurring subscription cancelled, but it's a scale whether it's worth it for the company to try to collect or not.

Excuse me? If the bill is prepaid you bet your ass it means the subscription is cancelled. You can't pay, they don't continue to provide the service, end of story.

> If your rent autobill fails, I think everyone realizes it doesn't mean you don't have to pay.

The difference is that rent is paid after the fact and is typically part of a lease contract. What contract are you signing to get Netflix?

> A $5/mo subscription? Not worth the time of the company to try to collect.

Who's out here providing $5/month post-paid subscriptions? I have literally never heard of such a thing. Metered billing is a different story, but the discussion is lawsuits over Netflix subscriptions.

> the discussion is lawsuits over Netflix subscriptions

Actually when I asked, I had in mind subscriptions in general, not Netflix in particular

Netflix, like many subscription services, charges you for services ahead of time. If you don't pay, you don't get the service. It's that simple.

Almost every major business cloud provider? Agree with you that something like Netflix is entirely safe, but AWS as a major example has an entirely post-paid model.

> Almost every major business cloud provider? Agree with you that something like Netflix is entirely safe, but AWS as a major example has an entirely post-paid model.

That's not a subscription, that's metered billing, where you are billed for what you have already used.

Our company did data mining for a large bank and we discovered that customer marketing where the bank initiates person-to-person contact with a customer makes people to change bank.

Customer marketing and reach out programs were net negatives. They lost more money than they did bring in by a large margin.

This reminds me a case of a large publisher that was under a ISO 9001 certification project.

ISO 9001 requires to implement some kind of customer satisfaction feedback as to assess customer satisfaction for ongoing improvement.

When the ISO auditors/consultants said that they should do something about it such as sending surveys to subscribers to assess their satisfaction, the Sales & Marketing VP said that if ISO 9001 meant that they had to remind subscribers that they had a subscription they do not use, they would rather cancel the ISO 9001 certification project altogether.

The insurance company I worked at operated on a similar principle. It was well known that older customers brought in a huge amount of profit because they tended not to claim, nor do they care about getting the best deal. So while younger customers were targeted with new deals and features, the older customers were left alone and would stay on "legacy" policies for decades sometimes.

Interestingly at some point they modelled what would happen if the premiums of the older customers was increased and they reckoned they could charge some customers double and they still wouldn't switch. This could have been used to offset price cuts for younger customers and generate much more profit overall, but it was decided to be unethical so they didn't follow the model.

I find insurance companies are always dangling discount offers they say will save you money if you have multiple policies. I eventually decided it was a big mistake, because if you have multiple, or all, your policies with one company, you're just advertising to them that you value convenience and simplicity over shopping around. So you may get a discount line item, but you will end up paying much more.

I am routinely surprised to receive email spam from my gym membership. It's like they're daring me to remember to cancel it.

My gym (a very popular UK-wide chain) has suspended all customer payments while their gyms are closed during lockdown. Instead they're spamming me trying to get me to pay for their workout app which they obviously knocked out in a hurry in an attempt to salvage some cashflow during this crisis.

I can't blame them for trying, but it's definitely not a good time to be running a gym.

Maybe they know their market better than their market knows itself?

Experian pulled much the same shit on me. I hadn’t locked in in six months, so they disabled my account but kept charging me. A year or so I tried to sign in and it said my account had been disabled due to inactivity. Had to escalate it more than once before I got them to refund the whole thing.

Wait you pay and they still lock your account due to inactivity?

I’ve no idea if this is still the case, but yes, that was the situation.

Sounds like a fairly straightforward contested charge on grounds of failure to provide the service they were paid for? If you couldn't access it and were locked out, they can't claim they provided the service.

I suspect that’s why I got the full refund

I actually helped create workflows like the for fitness clubs. If member had not worked out for 2 weeks, massive encouragement, we miss you etc.. more than 5 weeks... nothing..

I now a club once sent a simple questionaire to members who had not worked out in a long time.. just to gage why.. massive cancellations followed.

There’s a growing app industry to combat these dark patterns, an industry with its own costs and benefits. I believe iOS and Android also are incorporating dashboards and tools to manage subscriptions made via Apple Pay and Google Pay respectively.


I would love to know if any of these are actually good, instead of just their own scams. I just want to see all recurring payments grouped by something intelligent (like the vendor and/or the amount).

The intermediary services themselves (by Apple and Google) are surely no scams, I'd consider that a certainty even on the simple observation that they already are ridiculously effective money making schemes when they are entirely honest.

But it's not quite clear unfortunately how much protection they actually offer. A bad player could still try to enforce some hidden EULA small print that claims to empower them to ignore the cancellation and send bills the old fashioned way after cancellation on the intermediary. I really don't know if Apple or Google are taking effective steps against schemes like that or if they have just been lucky so far that those scammers are still finding enough prey outside of the walled gardens.

(ps: re-reading this comment I find myself sounding more critical than intended, actually I love subscribing through that kind of intermediary, I'd even consider paying extra. I'm just afraid that the protection offered might not be quite as strong as it seems)

I had a good experience with a google app subscription - cancelled it from the play app, no problem.

This is why I always pay with Apple or Amex... these guys make lots of money from their customers and are always ready to tell some seedy vendor to get fucked.

Just a few weeks ago I realized I was paying for Xbox Live without having played it for 8 years. I didn't even remember the password.

Cancelling for XboxLive has always been a pain (at least until 5 years ago, I don't know now): they make it easy to subscribe online and pay with a credit card, but cancelling forces you to look for a phone number buried in help pages and call a hotline that's only open during business hours or something. Pure dark pattern.

I cancelled mine a few months ago, and could do it through Microsoft's web site. It was a pain to find the option though.

The best way to handle Xbox payments is to buy pre-paid codes in the store and use them (assuming that's an option where you live).

This kind of stuff should be illegal. In GDPR, they put a clause that rescinding consent must be as easy as granting it, precisely because of that.

(Not that I've ever seen a site on which there was an obvious way to bring the consent popup back up after it was closed, but hopefully one day data protection authorities will unclog their pipes and the fines will start flying.)

As of 2018, it is illegal in California:


I cancelled through their website around 6 years ago. I didn't find it particularly hard, and it definitely didn't require a phone call, but maybe I just got lucky by randomly happening across the correct page.

How does this even happen? I'm just curious here. Don't you check your bills? I find it hard to imagine I would miss a recurring payment on my credit card receipt.

There are people out there who make enough money that they don't bother with an item-by-item check of each charge. I can't blame them. Being that careful is a huge cognitive load that scales with the number of charges even if it comes back to bite them when times aren't so good.

Now that I think of it, in the US people probably pay everything with a credit card? That would definitely be a longer list of expenses to check. In Europe the default is to use debit for physical card transactions, and credit much more rarely mostly for subscriptions and online purchases.

Debit cards are pretty popular in the US. Cash is used more than in Europe, partly because about 20% of the country doesn't have a bank account, partly because a significant number of who do still prefer using cash.

Personally, I use cash for day-to-day transactions, credit if I want the third-party record or it is a larger transaction. I never use debit because the protections are stacked against the user, and CC cash back schemes refund a portion of the credit card cartel tax. So not using it except at the bank ATM means I don't have to worry about the number being abused, unless my bank's ATMs are compromised.

my current bank app (in europe) just sends me a push message on any transactions made in my name. and the previous bank had a sms service for the same

not much cognitive load or anything (i disabled sound for these and just check em once a day) and very hard to miss any transactions you didn’t really authorize

My expenses are 30% of my income and I use a credit card for everything. Bank automatic deduction at the end of the month. I have a ballpark expenses figure I pay monthly. If I don't see a >10% increase in spending, I don't bother to check each item.

This is what Hulu did to me, and frankly, these companies are optimizing for short term revenue rather than for people actually want to pay for their products.

When you don't have a viable product, its hard to optimize for long term.

This is also the reason I almost never sign up for yearly plans. I'm much more likely to unsubscribe from something I don't use if I see the credit card charge monthly.

I worked on a dating site briefly and saw exactly this. iirc, something like 20% of their customer base fell into this state. It was one of many things that convinced me that space was ugly.

I described another pattern here: https://caseysoftware.com/blog/working-for-a-dating-website

Recurring billing is basically a scheme, at least in the journalism / entertainment world, to get customers to pay for goods and services they don't use, with the hope that they either won't notice or go through the effort that they're being charged. Recurring billing services have gone to efforts to acquire the new information from credit card companies whenever a card is updated to maintain the flow of money. I used to work for a publisher, and the introduction of recurring billing cut our cancellations for both periodical sales AND ad sales to local businesses by over 80%.

As an aside, when i top up my prepaid mobile i have the option to donate the top-up to another number. Yet dating sites i've seen don't allow subscribing someone else for a limited time (by opting-in on their side of course). Is there some reason as to why this is not an option on most dating sites? Seems courteous, but it might lead to scams or begging perhaps?

Twitch Subscriptions can be "gifted". You might want to check that ecosystem for concrete begging behavior and such.

Review your credit card statements every month then you will not be a “sleeping giant” in reality also

sounds like a great way to get customers to hate you and never want to use your service again!

Let me guess AshleyMadison.com?

That's fascinating and very smart.

I'm not salty about it but I don't understand. Could someone please explain to me why this is being down voted?

"fascinating" might not be the best word for a behavior like this. "smart" might also sound like an hyperbole to many. if you really want to earn more money, this kind of tricks are not difficult to figure out. overall, some people might take it like you being interested in applying this kind of tactics yourself.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact