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California law makes it easier to cancel auto-renewing subscriptions

By Shawn Knight · 8 replies
Jul 5, 2018
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  1. The process of signing up for online subscriptions to digital newspapers and streaming services is intentionally made as frictionless as possible. Companies know that if there are too many steps involved, it’s too complicated or it’s perceived to take too long, consumers are less likely to conduct business with them.

    The same can be said of the cancellation process – if it isn’t straightforward enough or is too time consuming, users are more likely to push it back to a later date or maybe even forget about it entirely. It’s a slimy practice and one that will no longer fly in The Golden State.

    A California law that went into effect July 1 addresses the matter. California Senate Bill No. 313, which covers “any business that makes an automatic renewal or continuous service offer to a consumer in this state,” mandates that a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the service exclusively online.

    The new law also extends to companies that lure consumers in with trial memberships or free gift offers. In these instances, the offer must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of the price that will be charged after the trial ends and disclose how to cancel before the trial period ends.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,397   +3,782

    Excellent! That should be the case in every state from the get go!
     
  3. jonny888

    jonny888 TS Booster Posts: 61   +64

    Nice idea, though I question they expect to enforce that law with overseas companies.
     
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,200   +1,625

    Agreed.

    SiriusXM is one example that I know of. There is no where on their site to turn off auto-renewal. You are stuck having to call customer service to do so and even then I do not feel like it is guaranteed to be turned off. I am sure that all companies that do this, do it intentionally because they want to keep making your money wither you forget about them or not. I could go on more but I don't got the time right now.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  5. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Guru Posts: 324   +256

    This shouldn't be an issue. The great thing about California is that it's so big that it's consumer protection laws tend to be harder to fight than to just agree with. For instance, many car standards (such as the catalytic converter), only became the norm after CA implemented the laws and the manufacturers decided it was cheaper to comply in every state than just make CA complaint cars.

    Same goes for tech. It would be pretty boggling to have a CA version of a website or CA rules. The enforcement mechanisms are not too difficult for international companies either --- as long as they keep any assets (property, cash, etc) on US soil.

    The major problem seems to be bringing forward lawsuits in the first place. Any damages incurred by this would be small. So you would either need a class action or for the CA Attorney General to bring it. That's only likely to occur against a company with deep (and easy to reach) pockets or to set an example. So many fly-by-night companies can still get away with it.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  6. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    God bless California!
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  7. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 505   +334

    Oh dear Lord.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  8. merikafyeah

    merikafyeah TS Addict Posts: 164   +116

    Easy solution: Sign up with a virtual credit card or something like Entropay.
    If you don't want to remain a subscriber just cancel the virtual card and the service won't be able to charge you and will cancel you automatically.
     
    Reehahs likes this.
  9. netman

    netman TS Addict Posts: 322   +101

    This consumer was with Comcast for 9 years! He was also on phone with a Comcast representative for 8 minutes for a simple cancellation request. Those are long times! I canceled Comcast after 2 years for high cable TV prices and continuous internet interruption! The Comcast guy on phone claimed of guaranty download speed all the time which is bullshet...No ISP download speed is consistently the one you paid for 24/7. It varies throughout the day and night. Internet service interruption is common in early hours of morning (when you wouldn't know) when you are sleep, and no, rebooting your modem will not solve the problem! Referring to online cancellation, the inconspicuousness still exist. Amazon Prime Video was an example to discourage you from cancelling so they can charge you for another month!
     

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