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Baremetrics required a phone call to cancel (twitter.com/cmdkhalilov)
413 points by joshxyz on Dec 23, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 210 comments

Baremetics customer here, disapointed to read those updated terms.

At least in California there seems to be a law preventing this. https://www.cnet.com/news/companies-must-let-customers-cance...

"The law states that customers who accept an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online must be able to cancel the service online. [...] The law means you won't have to make anymore phone calls to obscure customer service hotlines to cancel services like news subscriptions, music streaming or meal plans, for example."

there's a distinction between consumer and business-to-business contracts and the california law applies only to the former.

per https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.x...:

17602 says, "It shall be unlawful for any business that makes an automatic renewal offer or continuous service offer to a consumer . . . "

where 17601 defines a consumer as "any individual who seeks or acquires, by purchase or lease, any goods, services, money, or credit for personal, family, or household purposes."

I think you should make a complaint to the attorney general / CA regulator. I know the WSJ exclusively built a self service cancellation option for CA residents (as soon as you change your address to CA, the button shows up). I’m guessing if baremetrics doesn’t allow this for CA customers, they are breaking the law.

The law you’re referencing sounds like https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.x... . There’s an interesting set of exclusions that includes:

A bank, bank holding company, or the subsidiary or affiliate of either, or a credit union or other financial institution, licensed under state or federal law.

Not a lawyer so not sure if this applies in this case. I did find the exclusion list interesting (and saddening).

I have one that is even better. Bell Canada. They require you to speak to the "loyalty" team before you can have a service cancelled. That team is only available by phone. That team has a 1 hour wait time during the hours that they are open. That team likes to hang up on you. That team calls you back from numbers that cannot accept calls. That team is not available by chat or email and every other department has no access in the tools to effectively cancel a service.

I escalated to the crtc and opened a case. I got a call back from someone who was very good at apologising for this policy but was at the same time very clear that this was within their legal rights as a service provider.

Super convenient that I can sign up to any service with one click though.

Why don't just send them a letter and block their debits on your account?

This is a French perspective where such a reaction would be normal. I did it twice, one company called to say I am in the wrong, I asked them to please repeat so that I can record that for the lawsuit.

They hung up and never called back.

>Why don't just send them a letter and block their debits on your account?

Bell Canada and other big Canadian corporations have direct access to credit report records. If not paid, they will spoil your credit report. A credit report is essential in Canada for things such as credit cards, mortgage, car loan, and sometimes even for renting an apartment or home. With a poor credit report score all this would become more expensive or even unavailable.

Customer service provided by large corporations in Canada is sometimes absurdly poor, but you can't do much about it because there are simply no reasonable alternatives.

Yes indeed, we do not have this concept of credit score. And a company has the access to your account you allow them to have (via Direct Debit). An access you can shut down anytime, that bank must do it (this is usually via the web site) and then it becomes a problem between you and the company.

Same goes for a credit card, you can ask you ban for a reverse charge and disallow any further charges from that company.

This credit report thing is a real pain in the US/Canada, from what I see in various posts and comments.

I've had a very similar experience with Fido Solutions a few years ago.

When I eventually gave up and called, the representative tried to convince me not to cancel by describing the various scenarios in which emergencies could happen (including my family getting hurt) and I wouldn't be reachable without the phone plan.

Jesus, that's some Oracle level of customer intimidation.

I had a gym that you could not cancel over the phone but required letter (preferably certified) to their main office to cancel.

It seems like at least half of the gym chain business model is to get people to pay without actually using the gym, so that seems entirely consistent.

There are lots of businesses with this model. The correct way to deal with them is to exclusively use real credit cards, and to either threaten or immediately reverse charges from the financial institution's side as soon as anywhere near this level of shit is pulled.

This wreaks fear into most merchants, not only because fraud policies at banks greatly favor the buyer, but also because too many reversals within a certain period can cause a payment processor to charge higher rates on all transactions indefinitely, sometimes even if the merchant always cooperates.

Edit: Also usually works with most check cards, but I've come close to losing with them a couple times, whereas real credit cards are practically bulletproof in my experience unless you're just attempting some kind of egregious fraud.

Yep, and too high of a reversal score with MasterCard and Visa will get your processing shut down completely.

I’ve had a gym that required you to show up in person to fill in a form to cancel - really enjoyed finding this out after I moved abroad.

For most online services i use disposable cards that i can block any time.

If they use invoice based billing then i make sure it's easy to cancel.

Don't support businesses with shady practices.

How does one get disposable cards? Bank of America had this temporary credit card number feature, but they got rid of it (last year I think).

The other thing I learned - if your card is lost and you get a new credit card, I thought I had to update the number for the subscriptions. Nope, some services like Comcast knew my new number automatically, while others didn't. I don't know how this works.

Privacy.com will generate temporary debit card numbers with easily controlled access rules. It's a lot like BofA's old service.

Anyone know of a UK equivalent? This looks really useful.

Revolut is a UK based firm (also here in Australia now) that can set up virtual cards for you under your debit account.

Agreed - see my other comment for this advice

Oh I just hate Bell Canada so much.

Isn't it one thing when a faceless corporation does this, and another thing when a startup is doing this to learn about why customers are churning so they can improve their product?

It doesn't make much difference. It's still reprehensible to make it hard to cancel.

Let people cancel, confirm they've cancelled, and then ask for feedback. Put a feedback box on the confirmation page, imvite them to reply to the confirmation email. If you really must know, send a letter, and make one phone call (leave a message when they don't answer).

Anything else is abuse, and they're leaving you because you're abusive.

Baremetrics is not just a startup anymore. Last month, they were sold to Xenon Partners, a private equity firm that applies the same aggressive sales strategy to all of the companies in its portfolio. That excuse no longer holds.



Customers owe a service provider nothing, be them a massive corporation or a garage startup. ALL customers have the right to walk away without a word of feedback.

Yeah I agree. So are you saying the problem is with "call to cancel" itself or with the response the OP got from customer service rep when he emailed them?

The problem is the "We do not acknowledge any cancellation requests without a phone call"

Yes, the difference is the scale of abuse.

And also the intention?

Big companies like Comcast are just doing this to extract every penny.

A startup trying to survive and make their product better for customers--or fix something that went wrong--is completely different situation IMO.

I don't see how being a startup justifies making cancellation incredibly difficult. Whether it's a giant "extracting every penny", or a startup "trying to survive", it's just editorialization. They made it difficult, so less customers would cancel. Less customers cancel, more money retained.

I'm okay with an optional questionnaire, and I often fill them out when I cancel a service. But if it wants me to call to cancel, and especially if it deliberately makes the call longer and unbearable, I have all the reasons to be angry about it. I don't care if it's a struggling startup. A startup is an organization, not an actual life; I'm not going to pity it.

Obviously, an optional questionnaire is not as effective as forcing a call onto the customer. But it's the right thing to do.

> I don't see how being a startup justifies making cancellation incredibly difficult.

True. I'm questioning where is the trade-off and balance between making it more difficult to cancel vs. trying to fix what's wrong.

For me, the line is an optional survey.

I’ve dealt with companies where the “cancel” option really just meant contacting support.

If I need to do anything more than sending the message (on my own schedule - this part is important, I manage my personal life on nights and weekends) saying “hi, I’d like to cancel please” in order to actually have service cancelled and billing stopped, I’m likely to be frustrated and not give any feedback.

I’ve had very positive experiences with reps replying to confirm my service was cancelled, and then initiating a quick conversation about why I asked for that. I’m usually happy to offer at least some quick feedback, because I didn’t feel like I was being held hostage.

I’d still prefer virtually any other no-contact mechanism for ending an agreement for consumer services, though. Offer me winbacks if you want, add an optional exit interview to the process. But really, please don’t gate my ability to end an agreement I’m theoretically able to cancel at any time behind a manual process that’s any more difficult than my signup was. The intent is different but the end result is the same for the customer.

If I need to do anything more than sending the message (on my own schedule - this part is important, I manage my personal life on nights and weekends) saying “hi, I’d like to cancel please” in order to actually have service cancelled and billing stopped, I’m likely to be frustrated and not give any feedback.

It's important to be reasonable about this, though. Email isn't secure, and anyone could send an email pretending to be you. If there are irreversible consequences to cancelling, such as deleting personal data held on the service, not only would it be irresponsible to accept an unverified email message as a cancellation request, it could actually be illegal in various places (under the GDPR, for example).

Not providing a straightforward cancellation option via a website where the customer's identity has already been confirmed using their normal credentials is a different matter entirely.

Email isn't secure, but neither are phone calls.

If a customer emails to cancel, just email back a cancellation link that requires signing in. I think that's a good middle ground.

Sure, but you can exchange credentials over the phone with acceptable safety in most situations, after which it's reasonable to accept that the other person is who they claim to be.

Obviously if someone does email asking to cancel, a suitable method of cancellation should be explained to them.

For sure - that message should be via whatever the secure channel for support happens to be, if someone is going this route. I appreciate someone doing something a bit more robust than “tweet at us and promise you are you who say you are”

Why should someone who wants to be an ex-customer care that you want to improve things for your customers? You’re not entitled to my time anymore than a big company.

I thought we are doing this free market thing here ;) So just send them an offer of a large discount in return for feedback. Simple, not expensive, not intrusive - win win.

Startups are faceless corporations.

I am pretty sure Baremetrics wouldn't be able to do business in California with that policy.

CA passed a law in 2018 requiring companies that allow people to signup online to also allow them to cancel online https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtm...

"In addition to the requirements of subdivision (b), a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online"

Now I know why some magazines won't let you subscribe online - they take your credit card details on paper so that you can only cancel by calling them. I would rather close my credit card than call.

It is also not permitted by Visa/MasterCard terms regarding recurring services without a contract period.

It's been downvoted to hell (rightfully so), but I wanted to surface this comment in this thread from the guy who bought BareMetrics about a month ago:


I saw the comment got flagged. Would you be able to share the gist of what it said for those of us who were late to the party?

I think there's a setting to turn on flagged messages! But here it is:

> Hi guys--Jonathan here at Bare. I've forced everyone's hand on this because... whelp... we've recently acquired the business and we ended up finding that we can be critical to Stripe Webhooks processing for folks on the older Stripe API. We literally will take down your invoicing on Stripe when a customer cancels. Then we have the unsavory task of working with customers that have canceled, did not complete their deprovisioning and then flame us for causing them outages. I love a lively debate but if you're a customer and love us, reach out to me NOW and I'll hear your feedback. If you're not a customer, then please, please if you never want to talk to your vendor, please go to ProfitWell or ChartMogul. Patrick and Nick are great guys and are crushing it and will gladly take your business. We are getting eaten from the bottom by platforms AHEM Stripe that are inspired by us, folks that clone us and you can see from our revenue transparency that we're the last in line for making money. That is going to change--by helping customers that really want to make more... make more. If you'd like to give me direct feedback, give me a ring at 855 252 6050. (I'm also a CISSP™, CREST CRT™ and Brown Cybersecurity dude--so if you've any legislation that speaks to this, let me know--for you folks quoting CA--we have business customers and they are over 13.)

Ah, so there is! The "showdead" option. I had assumed the flagging worked on the level of editing the comment permanently for some reason rather than just hiding it

The gall is astounding. When it's this clear you won't retain the customer, what possible reason do you have for denying them the cancellation? Either complete lack of judgement or childish spite.

I've met Brian. It's so disappointing to see him do this.

I wonder if they do some sort of customer verification before they delete the data and maybe this process is meant to help prevent a bad actor from deleting/closing your account on your behalf?

“We’ll stop charging your card immediately, but we’ll need to verify your identity before permanently deleting your data” would be a more customer-friendly response if that is the case.

But then what happens if the "customer" never gets around to confirming their identity? Do you retain the relevant data indefinitely at your own expense, in case the request was a fake? If it was real, then from the customer's perspective they are done with you and no longer being charged, so they have little incentive to help you tidy up the loose end.

You send the email they registered with a notification with a deadline. Pretty simple TBH.

OK, but then how do you choose that deadline? If you don't hear back by then, fundamentally you are still taking a destructive action without any positive verification that the original request to do so was legitimate, which is still likely to be a bad experience for the real customer if you've been fooled by someone else.

I'm struggling to think of a situation when I'd want to follow that email-with-deadline pattern but didn't intend to complete the destructive action anyway, like closing all accounts because the service is shutting down, or notifying customers that you're changing business model and they need to switch to some alternative under your new terms first if they want to continue using your service.

Hey hey--not Brian leading this--it's me. See my chat above. You can call me directly at 855 252 6050.

Any response to the comments pointing out this is illegal in CA? Isn’t the Baremetrics office in SF?

Curious how you are verifying who you are talking to. You sound like you are just asking for a call flood/social engineering attack.

To provide customers with a sense of pride and accomplishment for cancelling the service?

I think the point is that none of us will ever want to call you. Please stop posting your number.

I genuinely mean no offence by this but this is one of the funniest possible responses you could have come up with. It's like something from a skit. I am dying of laughter here. This is great.

Please don't pile on like this, regardless of how you feel about cancellation policies. Maybe you don't owe a company better, but you owe this community better if you're posting to it.


It was truly, genuinely, not intended to be a pile-on. I thought he was at least partly being playful with that comment, since I could see myself doing that a little. Could be a misread on my part and I'll apologize in case it is. I didn't even vote him down.

In that case I misread you. Sorry! Pattern matching has its limits.

Great interaction, dang! Nice to see owning up to mistakes. Happy holidays!

That's infuriating. Thanks @cmdkhalilov for bringing this up, I know for a fact I'll not forget this kind of behavior.

As someone with intense social anxiety, forcing me to call someone is a sure way to trap (extort?) me in your service. I guess a credit card charge back would warrant a call as well.

Happy to help root out these practices, and definitely feel you @ intense social anxiety part. :(

Hey dude--we're not a consumer service so rest easy! If you're running a business, you want a vendor that you can call (why folks running real businesses love Rackspace and hate AWS when things aren't working).

You keep digging this hole deeper. Some reasons why your message is just terrible:

- You are nobody to tell us (business owners) what we do or don't want.

- Can call and have to call are two very different things.

- Your reference to "real businesses" is prepotent and condescending. Also, I enjoyed the irony given you just admitted in another comment that Baremetrics is a sinking ship.

What a condescending response. This could be a case study in how not to handle a crisis.

Hey dude, you can rest easy! I promise that no "real business" I'm involved with will ever use Baremetrics while you're running it.

Run a business here, oh and we use Baremetrics too. To be 100% clear we never want to call you or Brian.

Listen to your customers here.

If there are people that want a call, offer the option, but please don't force it. And don't do sneaky updates to your terms which make this a requirement.

Just wanna chip in that we're also Baremetrics customers and that we also don't wanna call you.

usiegj00, don't make the mistake of assuming that most commenters here are just junior JavaScript programming trolling on a forum. Half your customers are reading this thread today.

> And don't do sneaky updates to your terms which make this a requirement.

Hmmm, doesn't a terms update require the customers to re-agree to the terms? So if they made the update to terms about requiring a call, and never requested customers re-agree to the terms, then technically the customer doesn't have to follow said terms, correct? The old terms are still in play, or the account must be canceled.


> why folks running real businesses love Rackspace

That may have been true when Rackspace were competent.

However, that was years ago, prior to them being acquired by a private equity firm.

No-one in their right mind should use Rackspace these days, under any circumstances.

Of course the OP would say that, the Xenon crew (which acquired Baremetrics) used to be from Rackspace, and from that Corporate Development group that made acquisitions. So it's ex-Rackspace folks running the operations there now.

Wait. Are you in a leadership position at the acquiring company? Because you’re absolutely bungling this. You are displaying a cartoonish lack of communication and business sense. Just step away from your keyboard.

a vendor that you can call is a different thing from a vendor you must call.

I like vendors that listen and are responsive. You seem to be committed to ignore what people are telling you.

At least I can delete things on AWS without calling a CSR.

Need a bigger shovel bud?

When running the business I run, I want vendors that I can call, but not vendors I have to call.

Being able to do everything important about a service myself is one of the criteria I use for selecting services, including cancellation.

And you most definitely can talk to AWS on the phone. With paid support (which I'm sure your real businesses are using, right?), you can get a call back almost instantly any time of day.

You can call AWS though. You don’t have to.

That’s the point.

Look, baremetrics people, stop digging. You’re mismanaging a really really low hanging fruit of a PR crisis. Just stop. Learn from this, listen to public outcry, change your policy, and for fuck’s sake, stop entrenching your position publicly.

You are in the wrong, and even if you think you aren’t, the way you’re handling this right now proves the point.

The story couldn't have ended when we first send them an email asking for cancellation (specifically since I mentioned the reason and gave feedback upfront). It could have been done at "Sure, we will cancel it and delete your account data now."

The irony of this sort of stuff is that I've gone back to a number of services over the years where I cancelled and deleted my account but never to a service that made it hard to leave.

Looking at you, New York Times

Netflix has definitely gotten money out of me by making it very easy to cancel/resubscribe/cancel/resubscribe that they wouldn't have gotten if canceling had been a pain the first time.

I routinely cancel Netflix and come back to it when I want. Sometimes I come back and immediately cancel (this is so easy that I haven't bothered looking if there's a way to do non-recurrent billing). I just don't use it that much and I probably wouldn't ever use it if it was just going to add to a pile of un- or under-used subscriptions on my credit card statement.

Pluralsight too

Bear in mind that Baremetrics removed self-serve account cancellation back in 2015. The founder admits in a blog post that it’s to reduce churn, and reduce churn it did, by 15%.


The blog post you're linking to was an experiment back in 2015. We re-enabled self-service cancellation right after that, and that was the go-to cancellation method since. We made the change to call-to-cancel on December 1st, as part of the playbook Xenon installs at every company they acquire.

> We made the change to call-to-cancel on December 1st, as part of the playbook Xenon installs at every company they acquire.

Sounds like there's a long list of SaaS apps to avoid:


Thanks. Indeed bookmarking that list and won't be getting anywhere within earshot of these apps.


Any explanation as to why Xenon installs this policy?

Without any further background that list of companies is going straight to the red-flagged list that will never get my business.

Yep, although the phone call requirement is a new one and was introduced by a sneaky update to their terms: https://twitter.com/rtwlz/status/1341581686216245248

Lest anyone point this guy to that site listing a bunch of other dark patterns, he might take inspiration.

You might want to read this: https://baremetrics.com/blog/i-sold-baremetrics [1]

Xenon Partners, who acquired Baremetrics has a "Playbook". The guy who is shown in the twitter image is Brian Sierakowski (https://www.linkedin.com/in/briansierakowski/) who is in charge of running the "Xenon Playbook" for Baremetrics.

What Xenon does is acquire floundering / stagnating / doing ok SaaS companies from founders who want to sell. They buy the company with a structured acquisition (see above) and then they run their "playbook" to pump revenue and profits. Then they will sell the company for some multiple.

They will arbitrage their payments to the founder to make sure that cash flow works out. So, what you're seeing here is the Xenon playbook in action: accelerate revenues, decrease churn, slow payables, all that. I wonder what else is in their playbook.

Xenon was itself acquired by a firm called DreamFactory which seems to have started the model in 2017 or 2018, and then took on the Xenon brand themselves to operate their SaaS Private Equity / Hedge Fund model.

[1] HN discussion on the acquisition here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25045325

Baremetrics has the "call-us-to-cancel" policy since 2015.

Incorrect. It was a short lived experiment. See here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25515382

I don't understand the thinking at businesses that do this. They're obviously not going to keep this guy's business, their new terms for cancellation may or may not be enforceable where he is, they're risking getting hit with chargebacks if they try to force the issue by charging the card anyway... and they're fighting him in full view of the Internet.

Surely they understand that this is going to do the rounds on social media and tech forums, and that a significant proportion of their entire global market is likely to have heard about the dispute within the next few days? And that looking both incompetent and untrustworthy, as they obviously do here, is going to risk both losing existing customers and deterring potential new ones?

The owner visibly cashed out recently. CSR could be under orders to tighten up some internal metrics under new management.

Right, so this is the new owner running things their way. I just don't understand what they hope to gain from a situation like this. It's obviously customer-hostile behaviour, to the point where there are laws prohibiting similar actions in various places as others have mentioned. And look at how fast and universally negative the reaction has already been on the original Twitter comments and now on HN, even though it's night in the West. Word is surely going to get around tomorrow morning, and it's hard to believe the discussion will be any more favourable to Baremetrics then. How do those new owners imagine digging their heels in like this can ever end well for them?

Yes, I am equally puzzled, and I think the EU laws will favour us here – considering that we are incorporated in the Republic of Ireland, EU.

If you were being hit with this as a private individual so consumer protection laws would apply, I wouldn't fancy their chances at all, but if I've inferred your situation correctly that's not the case here? I'm afraid EU law is often very bad at protecting small businesses, so while I wish you luck in fighting the good fight, I wouldn't be so confident about your legal position as a corporate entity. But of course, take proper legal advice, as it looks like you are. And maybe Irish national law can help you even if the European provisions don't.

Hang on, does this mean they are making you call at international call rates?!?

I think a federal consumer protection law here would be good - something along the lines that it needs to be possible to cancel an account using the same communications method you used to create the account. If you made an account with a web form, you can cancel with a web form. If you had to call to set it up, its reasonable to have to call to un-set it up. But you should never need to call when you've set it up over the web (except in exceptional circumstances).

Some areas have something along these lines, but not many in the grand scheme of things.

Also maybe something about notifications of pending recurring charges. Those two tactics are pure slime from my perspective.

California has this law, and it is apparently required to process Visa cards as well.

Let me guess, it's one of those Comcast style calls where you call to disconnect your service but end up upgrading instead because you are bad at saying "no" to the silver tongued person on the other line... (and plus they just gave you mates rates)

They do claim "it's not a sales rep" though, so the only other motivation I can think of is manual feedback collection.

Long time customer of Baremetrics here. And this shady practice is really really offputting, to the extent where we are now looking into cancelling (without a phone call, of course)

I fucked my credit in Germany because cell phone plans and fixed line DSL contract term commitments auto-renew for another 24 months automatically and have to be cancelled in writing.

I sent them cancellations, but it only works if you send the cancellation in the last 90 days (or something) of the 24 months. Miss the window and you're on the hook for 24 more payments.

It's the most customer-hostile experience I have ever had with a company in the global west.

I decided it was easier to just let them try to collect, and stopped the autodebit to them.

Some say you can still hear their dunning emails to this day, when the wind is blowing...

What are you talking about? All German phone plans I've ever seen renew for 12 months, not 24. Only the very first period after signup is 24 months. And you most likely have to cancel while at least 90 days remain in the current period, not later. You can even sign up and immediately cancel in the future at the 24 months mark.

Ahh, yeah, that's what happened. It was some years ago at this point.

Bizarre. In Australia I can literally call up a new ISP and get switched over in minutes, and it automatically terminates my old ISP (and many will refund the remaining monthly charge)

My European country used to do that with phone contracts as well, then it was outlawed.

Now some of them will just make you pay a penalty if you recede early, but you can still cancel at anytime.

Would threatening a chargeback have changed the response from Baremetrics? That's usually the nuclear action to these type of shenanigans, and the threat of it is often the proper deterrent.

I did actually, and their last email reply yesterday was:

"Got it! Let me know how I can help with the dispute process."

I didn't post that update on Twitter I think.

Are you in CA? File a complaint with the attorney general, they are breaking the law.

Ah, so we are incorporated in the Republic of Ireland, EU. I am talking to our lawyer today.

You can file a complaint here https://oag.ca.gov/ this is not like filling a lawsuit but often gets good results. The AG is like the lawyer for the state. Considering baremetrics is based in san francisco, you might get some interest.

Likewise you could file a complaint with Stripe.

What we have here is inexperienced people in a startup acting stupid, but a little suggestion from the attorney generals office or their payment processor usually gets some really good attention.

Thanks a lot! Very good to know, appreciate it.

Complaining to Stripe is the best option. Most of their business is based on Stripe Connect. If they ban Baremetrics from the Stripe it will lose their business.

Wow. If I were in your shoes I would have gone from not wanting to call to being glad I get to call. Count your blessings, you get a chance to call Brian and give him and ear full. I'd tell Brian I'm recording the call as well.

What's crazy is that they have to pay a fee if they lose a chargeback, so this is essentially a revenue-negative move in addition to being terrible PR.

They probably have to pay a fee even if they win a chargeback.

Yes, this is exactly why you make it clear what people are paying and easy to cancel.

The wrong-headedness here is astounding.

It’s like he’s asking to be made an example of.

You can do worse than threaten a chargeback by going directly and filling a complaint with their payment processor (Stripe). If Stripe deplatformed them they would be in a scramble to not lose their business entirely, all it takes is an irate phone call from the company that handles all of their revenue to get their issues with violating state law and ToS for their service providers promptly resolved.

I also suggested elsewhere a complaint to the CA AG.

A CEO fielding a call from their payment processor or AGs office has a humbling effect.

I think that's what they are calling a "dispute"? Essentially they are daring OP to go ahead and request a chargeback.

NY times does this too. You have to call to unsubscribe. Subscribe is one click quick process.

I have come to accept the fact that US corps run via a “grow at any cost” algorithm/herd mentalofu. They will bend and twist every law to their favor even if it’s a terrible user experience.

Every magazine that I know of does this. I'm in Canada and the Globe & Mail has the same process. It's similar to phone companies; you say you want to leave, they offer a discounted price to get you to stay.

That's fine by me. The call to cancel has never been too onerous, and the CSR reps never did this kind of back and forth. Don't want the discounted offer? No problem, your subscription is now cancelled.

The worst case I had with this was with a gambling website, https://www.tab.co.nz/.

I was disgusted that you couldn't delete your account without making a phone call.

Ticketmaster is another NZ case that suuucks: https://help.ticketmaster.co.nz/hc/en-nz/requests/new

They link to a Zendesk instance but the actual form doesn't seem to render at all hence no ticket can be submitted.

Presumably this is caused by one of the various ad/tracker blocking items I have running but the fact you can't submit a ticket via what should otherwise be a plain HTML form is kinda nuts

Experian do this (they made money from my laziness to close it). After essentially threatening them they immediately closed my account.

I have experienced this with:

Comcast Verizon AT&T

And I think it becomes more common if there isn’t a mechanism to push back. All kinds of dark patterns (you have to remember a code you supposedly set with AT&T when you first signed up that — get this — is never used for any other service). Verizon just paused my billing and then started again (presumably because the original person assisting didn’t want to have a ding on her record).

Sad thing is this must be effective or they would not keep doing it.

There used to be a service that would charge $5 just to cancel Comcast but I can’t find them anymore.

I was able to cancel Comcast service over live chat (~15 min wait) in California. Signed up online, so must legally be required to cancel online.

I hope they are not intentionally blocking this in other states.

AVAAZ is similar. I supported them monthly for years with a small amount, then this year I wanted to direct my funds to some other cause and they asked me to send an email explaining why I wanted to cancel my monthly payment.

Luckily my card expired shortly after so I didn't bother, and since then they send weekly emails telling me that updating my card info is just "one click away".

Sorry AVAAZ.

Since then I am very careful to only use PayPal for recurring subscriptions or donations.

Just use a virtual credit card and you can "cancel" any service you want by pausing the card. Privacy.com and payaware are two I would recommend for this.

<response type="standard warning">

No, you can't just cancel any service by blocking your card payments. Legally they are quite distinct actions, and depending on the situation, you may find yourself with debt collectors chasing you quite rightly for money you legally owe, damaged credit, etc.

If the service provides a reasonable means of cancelling, just use it. If it doesn't, take other action as appropriate, but don't just silently block payments without making a reasonable attempt to tell the service you are cancelling.


He sent an email, he has a response denying the request. Why would that not be enough? The company here is at fault for outright refusing a written request.

Email isn't secure. It's unreasonable to expect that to be sufficient to cancel anything with consequences on its own. I agree that the company is in the wrong here, but not because they wouldn't take significant and possibly irreversible action based on just an email that could have come from anyone.

"Email isn't secure, that's why you must make a phone call because the only way we can verify it's actually you is by hearing your voice, which we've never heard before"


Email isn't secure is why we can't cancel an account?

What makes you think security has anything to do with this?

Who do they think they are, Spectrum?

This guy flaunting his phone number everywhere just begs for a prank call...

"Yeah id like to cancel, can you email me on xxx@yyy.com to discuss details?"

Tell them you'll issue a chargeback.

> “Sorry making a call to cancel is causing anxiety, what is the cause of that?”

How fucking ableist. Where are these scumbags based that they think they can get away with this nonsense?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is pretty bad aside from that. If you truly, deeply don't care about your customers, what difference does the way you express that make?

Isn't it the same case with NYTimes, WSJ,etc sites too ?

Add SiriusXM to the list of companies to never work with because they pull the same shit.

Isn't this the same company whose CEO said he wouldn't hire anybody with a resume that had "short stints"

Are people like that so rare? Heck, I've been questioned and rejected from potential jobs many times because most of my roles have been under 2 years.

I've always explained that I changed jobs because that was the only way to get a promotion / salary raise. Most companies do a default 1-5% yearly increase, whereas when I move to another company, I can get an instant 15-25%.

as a business owner I wouldn't want a job switcher or how it's this called in English. When we hire we want something long term, not someone who is prepared to leave next year. You don't get the 20% rise, but you get stability, comfort, possibility to advance to a better role (maybe leadership position), better CV, etc

Which is fair, but you're also missing the entire reason as to why I'm switching. As an employee, I want to work for a company where I can keep growing, and where my skills and salary is fairly evaluated over time. I don't want to work for a company where my only salary increase is a yearly 1% one, or where my only chance to get a promotion is once a year. If I need to switch a company to get both, then I'll definitely do that.

Things like this are a two way street, yet companies often don't treat it as such.

EDIT: Because you've changed your answer after I typed my response. Some people might be okay with having to stay 10+ years in a company to finally get that role they wanted. I'm not, if I think I deserve better, I'll ask my company for it, if they tell me that maybe in 5 years I can get a better thing, then I rather switch jobs now instead of holding myself back.

It makes sense for both you and the company to act in this manner. The company wants to hire people who are not going to jump ship with the human capital they trained as soon as they can. And you want to earn something closer to the marginal value you provide.

When you put it like that, it doesn't make sense for the company at all. All they have to do is treat their employees well and fair. Like I said, if my company gives me the opportunity for a promotion and a fair salary increase, then I wouldn't need to jump ship.

I also prefer to stick to one company for a couple of years and make my way up there. But if after a year all you can offer is 1% salary increase, and often no promotion, then as an employee, I don't feel valued at all. (Obviously, this all depends on my performance as well)

If you're hiring for anything other than a Junior position why would the company have to train you up for a year?

It seems odd that there is an assumption that an employee can't provide value within a year.

There are jobs where it takes 6 - 12 months until an employee becomes efficient enough to worth the money spent on salary and recruiting.

Absolutely rubbish. If only they were alone in doing this rubbish. Another reminder of why we're building https://cledara.com though...

I 100% agree, if you can sign up without a phone call, you should be able to cancel without one. However, at the end of the day, it's just a phone call. It gets a bit dramatic.

It's just a click on their side, no reason to make it more complicated than necessary.

For many people a phone call is not "just a phone call". Companies doing this know why they force customers to call. So did this one when they changed the terms of service recently.

No, it's not the end of the world for most. But it sure shows how they treat their customers.

"Just a phone call" can get pretty bad. You can wait their entire working day on hold trying to contact the MN department of public safety, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that there exist people who would rather not blow one or more vacation days on such a riveting adventure.

Imagine I live in a country outside of the US, and Baremetrics office hours are my 2am, and a long distance phone call also.

I would make it a mission to never do business again with such a customer hostile company.

The Stripe angle is interesting, someone should see how Stripe feels about endorsing such behaviour.

Which is indeed the case for us. We are (I am) based in Ireland, and there is a significant time different. Even though that's not the main culprit here but still applicable.

It’s a matter of principle. Plus I don’t want to be forced to hear them beg to stay.

You know I want to leave, let me leave and stop being abusive.

It’s not a consumer service. You’re a business, make the damn phone call.

Agreed. I don't understand the outrage. There could be any number of legitimate reasons why their internal process requires a phone call. Sure it would be nice if they would do this over email, but the telephone is still a normal way to conduct business.

What next? Outrage that you can't cancel your doctor's appointment via twitter?

If you could book your doctor’s appointment via Twitter, but couldn’t cancel, I’d sure as hell be angry about it.

I haven't done business over the phone in a decade. Actually, the other day I removed my phone number from my company's listing as all the calls I ever received were telemarketeers.

I don't think they have "legit" reasons. They can do it that was just because they want to. It's perfectly fine for having a phone call to cancel as just part of the deal, and if you don't like it, too bad. It's pretty common with other services. Customer feedback is one benefit, and yes, retention is another.

Worry about actual shady shit out there instead.

I personally don't think this is bad as long as:

1) They make it easy to cancel when you call

2) They only try to offer you some free stuff to stay as a customer

My guess is the startup here is trying to learn why customers are cancelling so they can improve the product and they care about keeping customers happy.

Almost all non-web companies make you call to cancel, so I don't see what the big deal is.

The only mistake here is with the email back and forth. Probably the customer support person didn't understand WHY the startup was doing this and made the situation worse.

From a survey/data collection perspective, requiring an answer to a prompt will almost always result in garbage/inauthentic data.

For anyone on here who needs to hear it, that also applies to harvesting my email before telling me what your product actually does. You'll get garbage/inauthentic data 100% of the time, and a lot of it if you're too insistent.

If you are desperate for feedback, pay them for providing it. If it's not worth that to you, then don't annoy them.

Hi guys--Jonathan here at Bare. I've forced everyone's hand on this because... whelp... we've recently acquired the business and we ended up finding that we can be critical to Stripe Webhooks processing for folks on the older Stripe API. We literally will take down your invoicing on Stripe when a customer cancels. Then we have the unsavory task of working with customers that have canceled, did not complete their deprovisioning and then flame us for causing them outages. I love a lively debate but if you're a customer and love us, reach out to me NOW and I'll hear your feedback. If you're not a customer, then please, please if you never want to talk to your vendor, please go to ProfitWell or ChartMogul. Patrick and Nick are great guys and are crushing it and will gladly take your business. We are getting eaten from the bottom by platforms AHEM Stripe that are inspired by us, folks that clone us and you can see from our revenue transparency that we're the last in line for making money. That is going to change--by helping customers that really want to make more... make more. If you'd like to give me direct feedback, give me a ring at 855 252 6050. (I'm also a CISSP™, CREST CRT™ and Brown Cybersecurity dude--so if you've any legislation that speaks to this, let me know--for you folks quoting CA--we have business customers and they are over 13.)

In addition to the California law that has already been mentioned, would you care to comment on the Visa Product and Service Rules (which Stripe's TOS incorporates by reference) which state that if you process recurring payments, you must:

> Provide a simple cancellation procedure, and, if the Cardholder’s order was initially accepted online, at least an online cancellation procedure.


In California it is illegal to not allow online cancellation for services signed up for online. No exceptions, it has nothing to do with children.

If I were your customer I would make a point of taking every legal avenue to punish you for this behavior, and the reasoning here guarantees I wouldn’t think of touching your product.

If I can delete my entire GitHub account and screw everything and everyone connected to it with a single red warning prompt you can bet your ass it's possible to online cancel a service that may in some edge cases affect a customer.

If you automated the on-boarding process to Baremetrics, you sure as hell can automate the un-boarding process.

Regardless, I don’t get why anyone uses Baremetrics, your dashboard is slow as shit and looks like your customer service is equally shit.

People are complaining that they don’t want to call you. And here you are asking people to call you.

Hiya--we're not a consumer service, so yeah, I'm asking people to call me. I'll respond a bit to this thread because HN is read by lots of folks, but it's also filled with trolls. Businesses talk to businesses. Especially when we're going to screw something up with low bandwidth communication. I'm a real dude and happy to chat to real folks running real businesses. Consumers should not be using our platform.

>Hiya--we're not a consumer service, so yeah, I'm asking people to call me.

Hey man, just wanted to let you know that you've accidentally placed free trial and mailing list buttons on your home page. Seeing as you're not a consumer service and all you probably want to take those down.

You've also accidentally integrated with the consumer service known as Stripe, who have the horribly consumerish feature of closing your account right in account settings. Might want to get on that before the Coalition of Serious Business finds out.

I’m not hung up on consumer vs business or legality. I’m trying to point out that you sticking to your guns in this situation sends the message that you don’t care about inconveniencing the people you’re doing business with. I understand these are soon-to-be-ex-customers who are about to have no value to you. But you have a chance here to leave them on good terms so they can recommend you to their friends. You are instead leaving a bad taste in their mouths.

Since you are targeting global customers, just FYI in a lot of European jurisdictions a written “expression of will” is enough. So nobody is buying this obligation to call ruse.

> HN is read by lots of folks, but it's also filled with trolls

Just wow..

Pretty funny that he says that about one of the most mature and well-behaved communities on the internet.

I guess everyone who disagrees with him is a troll.

Uh, no, sending meat sounds over air is the worst form of communication ever, packed with ambient noise, other noise, aggressive compression, low volume, intermittent radio signal and heuristic commutation that works only every other time.

So, you're discriminating against deaf people? Boy, you're going down big. You have no idea.

I may have had my differences with the HN mods, but this place is NOT filled with trolls. If anything, it is quite troll free.

I think Brian will be burned out in a week once unhappy customers start to call him

This just smells of completely misunderstanding who you're targeting.

Good luck, you're going to need it.

I'm just going to put this out there, maybe he knows who he is targetting and it's not us.

I've never seen a business talk to a business, actually.

Lawyers talk to each other so businesses don't have to. Which is where this might end up if Baremetrics has customers in California.

Only a fool would go get a lawyer instead of making a phone call. Especially, if you have employees who you can tell to make the phone call too. I suspect if you did get a lawyer the first thing they'll suggest is they call the number to get it cancelled and will ask if you called the number.

I'm not talking about a customer getting a lawyer involved. I'm talking about a DA looking into whether Baremetrics is violating CA law by not having an online-only cancellation option to corresponding with its online-only registration system.

Can only imagine how angry the original Baremetrics founder is watching you ruin his business' reputation in mere weeks.

> days

> we ended up finding that we can be critical to Stripe Webhooks processing for folks on the older Stripe API. We literally will take down your invoicing on Stripe when a customer cancels.

What does this even mean? Are you saying that if you remove a customer’s Stripe integration, it prevents them from being paid by their own customers?

I think he means if we are using their "Recover" product which I explained in my email that we absolutely don't use it.


I think what they mean is this: if you're dissatisfied with invoice PDFs generated and sent by Stripe, it's fairly common to disable the sending and use an integration [0] to generate/send them out instead. And then if you cancel that integration, oops, your customers no longer get their invoices.

[0]: https://stripe.com/partners/apps-and-extensions/invoicing

Hmm, interesting. They must know that I (we) are not using this, because I didn't even know this feature exists and our customers are happy getting sent Stripe invoices.

For the sake of your business you need a buffer between you and the world.

> you can see from our revenue transparency that we're the last in line for making money

Maybe there are some social reasons for that. You've definitely lost face here.

If you offer a very convenient frictionless entry, you have to offer a frictionless exit.

Otherwise it's way too difficult to interpret it as anything else but a cheap and very sad way to keep a customer. A really sad business practice.

100% in agreement, that's how I felt too.

Curious what you would do for someone who is mute. Would you make them call you?

Or far more common: someone who doesn't speak English

... or any other medical condition which affects voice or hearing. Deafness, Laryngitis, etc.

Lol, I want this question answered.

Mutes already know how to use a TTY relay service.

Why force them to use it when email might be better?

Why are you guys obsessed with phonecalls?

No one believes you. Everyone sees this for what it is; a barrier to exit

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