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Don't forget that doing a chargeback doesn't absolve you from having to pay for services you've legitimately signed up for, it just denies the parties the convenience of settling through the credit card companies.

They can take you to court for breach of contract, and if (IANAL) the subscription contract is found to be legit, you have to pay + fees.

That is true in theory, but in practice, especially in situations like this that does not happen.

For that there would have to be a much more transparent sign up process and actual delivery. Non-performance is not a good basis to start a law suit, especially if you're on the non-performing side.

I agree, but the GP made it sound like a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Well, it's sad in a way but there are consumers that use it exactly like that. They order stuff and then charge back the money in the hope that the merchant won't care enough to fight the chargeback, which can cost a multiple of the original transaction.

Most large merchants have risk mitigation strategies that attempt to detect this before a charge gets processed and goods are shipped but that's a less-than-perfect mechanism.

They'll argue you checked the checkbox. You'll argue you didn't. It's their word against yours and they will lose, because they can't prove you actually checked the checkbox.

First: You're in court. That's a whole lot more than you bargained for.

Second: Are you a lawyer? Is that the guaranteed outcome of such cases? Will it really carry no weight that they can (probably) substantiate their claim that you checked the box with a technically sound argument that their website actually works? A manual release test plan, unit tests, cucumber scripts?

That one, single checkbox, and the fact that you have to manually check it, is the legality upon which the entire business hinges. Especially if they're a little shady, they'd be sure to have their stuff in order around this.

The first is certainly true, but won't happen if they are bound to lose.

I'm not a lawyer, but I am a programmer. I would never swear that my software works so correctly that I will use the actions of the application as proof that a user did check a box. If he claims he didn't, well, he just may be right. I've seen enough weird things happen not to trust any software to behave correctly all the time.

Now my technical reasons may not be relevant for a judge, but I doubt judges are very trustworthy of technology (they should have heard plenty of cases where technology failed and they will be users of all kinds of awful consumer technology, that sometimes, suddenly fails for no clear reason) and won't think favorably about a company with these kinds of practices. Perhaps I'm naive, but those things combined will lead a judge to believe you over the company.

  That one, single checkbox, and the fact that you have to
  manually check it, is the legality upon which the entire
  business hinges.
It can be entirely legal, while at the same time anyone that claims otherwise should immediately be refunded and let go. In fact, it would be smart to do that, as it prevents bad publicity. Any user that is dissatisfied should be compensated and should be free to leave, always. That saves money.

How hard can it be to retain this data upon registration? Site operators would be insane not to. It's one bit per user in a database: Checked box or not?

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