Hacker News

517 Comments:
goodside said 13 days ago:

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.

sytelus said 13 days ago:

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!

mywacaday said 13 days ago:

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.

adamtulinius said 13 days ago:

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.

elcomet said 13 days ago:

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.

rypskar said 13 days ago:

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

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
Reason077 said 13 days ago:

> "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.

virgilp said 13 days ago:

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...

heavenlyblue said 13 days ago:

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

virgilp said 13 days ago:

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

elcomet said 13 days ago:

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

gryn said 13 days ago:

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.

lucasverra said 13 days ago:

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

wolco said 13 days ago:

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...

Lorin said 13 days ago:

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

wolco said 13 days ago:

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

danlugo92 said 13 days ago:

How can i create such a virtual card?

jaybeeayyy said 13 days ago:

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.

mathewsanders said 13 days ago:

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.

seesaw said 13 days ago:

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.

perl4ever said 13 days ago:

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

orhmeh09 said 13 days ago:

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

antsar said 13 days ago:
mywacaday said 12 days ago:

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

t0mas88 said 13 days ago:

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

elcomet said 13 days ago:

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.

komali2 said 13 days ago:

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.

elcomet said 11 days ago:

Chargebacks don't exist in France.

avianlyric said 13 days ago:

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.

Nursie said 12 days ago:

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

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

KMnO4 said 13 days ago:

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

war1025 said 13 days ago:

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.

kevinmchugh said 13 days ago:

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.

war1025 said 13 days ago:

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.

Tagbert said 12 days ago:

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.

hnick said 12 days ago:

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.

perl4ever said 13 days ago:

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...

war1025 said 13 days ago:

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.

perl4ever said 12 days ago:

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

Nursie said 12 days ago:

> 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.

t0mas88 said 7 days ago:

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.

Chris2048 said 12 days ago:

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

erk__ said 13 days ago:

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.

martin_bech said 13 days ago:

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

imafish said 13 days ago:

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

Denvercoder9 said 13 days ago:

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.

pm3003 said 13 days ago:

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).

kappuchino said 13 days ago:

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.

sjwright said 13 days ago:

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.

hyperman1 said 13 days ago:

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.

iso1210 said 13 days ago:

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

xnyan said 13 days ago:

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).

iso1210 said 13 days ago:

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

sjwright said 12 days ago:

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.

kappuchino said 13 days ago:

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".

sjwright said 12 days ago:

> 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.

kuschku said 13 days ago:

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

sjwright said 12 days ago:

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.

avianlyric said 13 days ago:

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.

mqus said 12 days ago:

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.

g_p said 13 days ago:

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.

radu_floricica said 13 days ago:

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)

secfirstmd said 13 days ago:

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

efitz said 13 days ago:

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.

silverdrake11 said 13 days ago:

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

said 12 days ago:
[deleted]
wolco said 13 days ago:

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.

vorpalhex said 13 days ago:

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.

354 said 12 days ago:

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...

cpv said 13 days ago:

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.

sytelus said 13 days ago:

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.

varjag said 13 days ago:

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.

iso1210 said 13 days ago:

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

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
varjag said 13 days ago:

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.

cpv said 13 days ago:

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).

varjag said 13 days ago:

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.

jdxcode said 13 days ago:

check out privacy.com

wdb said 13 days ago:

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

NolF said 13 days ago:

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...

wpietri said 13 days ago:

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.

Fezzik said 13 days ago:

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.

dark said 13 days ago:

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

sjs382 said 13 days ago:

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.

tracer4201 said 13 days ago:

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.

rogem002 said 13 days ago:

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...

g_p said 13 days ago:

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.

teekert said 13 days ago:

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.

zambal said 12 days ago:

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.

jacques-noris said 13 days ago:

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

joyj2nd said 13 days ago:

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.

IANAL. IANYL.

harimau777 said 13 days ago:

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.

klyrs said 13 days ago:

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

jaxonrice said 13 days ago:

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.

Grollicus said 13 days ago:

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.

diebeforei485 said 13 days ago:

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

customersmoney said 13 days ago:

“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.”

arkitaip said 13 days ago:

“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.”

xeromal said 10 days ago:

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.

grompotr0n said 13 days ago:

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.

BonoboIO said 12 days ago:

Which service is it?

misnome said 13 days ago:

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.

dimitar said 13 days ago:

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.

thih9 said 13 days ago:

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.

gizmo said 13 days ago:

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.

metric10 said 13 days ago:

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.

unreal37 said 13 days ago:

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

Shady, shady.

enz said 13 days ago:

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

davchana said 13 days ago:

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

halfdan said 13 days ago:

In Germany there is.

kemitche said 13 days ago:

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.

jdxcode said 13 days ago:

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

Also, I live in California.

hwerehqrw said 13 days ago:

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

playeren said 12 days ago:

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

lovehashbrowns said 13 days ago:

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.

marcoperaza said 13 days ago:

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.

lovehashbrowns said 12 days ago:

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.

marcoperaza said 12 days ago:

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.

sfj said 13 days ago:

Why don't you just read your fucking statement?

balladeer said 13 days ago:

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.

sumedh said 13 days ago:

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.

balladeer said 13 days ago:

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).

davchana said 10 days ago:

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

Jd said 13 days ago:

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.

input_sh said 13 days ago:

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

v7p1Qbt1im said 13 days ago:

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.

sytelus said 13 days ago:

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.

jedberg said 13 days ago:

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.

jacoblambda said 13 days ago:

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

robohoe said 13 days ago:

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

jacoblambda said 13 days ago:

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

ithkuil said 13 days ago:

Looks great. Not available in my country :-(

phyzome said 13 days ago:

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

nickflood said 12 days ago:

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)

simonlbn said 13 days ago:

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.

ehsankia said 13 days ago:

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.

amelius said 13 days ago:

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.

myrandomcomment said 12 days ago:

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.

sytelus said 12 days ago:

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.

myrandomcomment said 11 days ago:

Call. A human will sort it.

dghughes said 12 days ago:

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.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mastercard-cracks-down-on-...

g_p said 13 days ago:

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.

chrischen said 13 days ago:

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

digitalengineer said 13 days ago:

“ 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.”

eganist said 13 days ago:

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.

robohoe said 13 days ago:

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

armandhammer said 12 days ago:

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.

criddell said 13 days ago:

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.

gassiss said 13 days ago:

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.

said 12 days ago:
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said 13 days ago:
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teekert said 13 days ago:

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!

tlobes said 13 days ago:

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.

tialaramex said 13 days ago:

> 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.

sytelus said 13 days ago:

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.

tialaramex said 13 days ago:

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.

ryandrake said 13 days ago:

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.

Kalium said 13 days ago:

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.

drdec said 13 days ago:

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.

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fuddle said 13 days ago:

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

ars said 11 days ago:

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

spurdoman77 said 13 days ago:

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

steelframe said 13 days ago:

> 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.

dwighttk said 13 days ago:

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

nadavami said 13 days ago:

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.

https://articles.braintreepayments.com/guides/account-update...

dwighttk said 13 days ago:

can I get the opposite of that?

TrinaryWorksToo said 13 days ago:

Try Privacy.com

elif said 12 days ago:

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

Geezus_42 said 13 days ago:

https://privacy.com/join/5FPVD

Give every merchant an individual card and kill the card when they won't stop charging you.

P. S. There's also a browser extension that will let you generate a card at the time of checkout and autofill the information.

Operyl said 13 days ago:

While I love Privacy, the reality is a lot of merchants block these kind of virtual cards.

Also, really, a throwaway account to post a referral link?

qmarchi said 13 days ago:

Personal anecdote: I've only had one that didn't accept a privacy card, my rent. Other than that, it's been golden.

Operyl said 13 days ago:

I’ve had a good number block me from using them, typically in industries where fraud and chargebacks run rampant. I.e. gaming services.

flurdy said 13 days ago:

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! :)

hombre_fatal said 13 days ago:

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.

ganstyles said 13 days ago:

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.

gregjw said 13 days ago:

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

rconti said 13 days ago:

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.

mrweasel said 13 days ago:

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.

KajMagnus said 13 days ago:

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.

mrweasel said 13 days ago:

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.

v7p1Qbt1im said 13 days ago:

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.

mrweasel said 13 days ago:

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

trevyn said 13 days ago:

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.

rogual said 13 days ago:

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.

cpv said 13 days ago:

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.

tomjen3 said 13 days ago:

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

cpach said 13 days ago:

I cancelled my subscription in 2018 via e-mail.

bentcorner said 13 days ago:

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.

wdb said 13 days ago:

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:

https://www.westminster.gov.uk/ebooks-emagazines-and-audiobo...

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 :))

kolp said 13 days ago:

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.

wdb said 12 days ago:

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

dqv said 13 days ago:

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.

1123581321 said 13 days ago:

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.

heyoni said 13 days ago:

Same here with NYT cooking.

TechBro8615 said 13 days ago:

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.

said 13 days ago:
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kbyatnal said 13 days ago:

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.

KajMagnus said 13 days ago:

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)

reificator said 13 days ago:

> 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?

zepearl said 13 days ago:

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.

kalleboo said 13 days ago:

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

amelius said 13 days ago:

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

reificator said 13 days ago:

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.

amelius said 13 days ago:

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.

perl4ever said 13 days ago:

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.

Jare said 13 days ago:

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.

Hamuko said 13 days ago:

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

Androider said 13 days ago:

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.

reificator said 13 days ago:

> 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.

KajMagnus said 13 days ago:

> the discussion is lawsuits over Netflix subscriptions

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

Hamuko said 13 days ago:

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.

Sebguer said 13 days ago:

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.

reificator said 13 days ago:

> 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.

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nabla9 said 13 days ago:

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.

antaviana said 13 days ago:

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.

globular-toast said 13 days ago:

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.

perl4ever said 13 days ago:

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.

jclulow said 13 days ago:

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

hackissimo123 said 13 days ago:

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.

ta17711771 said 13 days ago:

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

peteretep said 13 days ago:

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.

wdb said 13 days ago:

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

peteretep said 13 days ago:

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

g_p said 13 days ago:

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.

peteretep said 13 days ago:

I suspect that’s why I got the full refund

martin_bech said 13 days ago:

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.

aspenmayer said 13 days ago:

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.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z43qx9/how-to-cancel-recu...

baddox said 13 days ago:

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).

usrusr said 13 days ago:

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)

roel_v said 13 days ago:

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

ponker said 13 days ago:

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.

cocochanel said 13 days ago:

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.

ekianjo said 13 days ago:

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.

1bc29b36f623ba8 said 13 days ago:

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).

TeMPOraL said 13 days ago:

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.)

comex said 13 days ago:
bcrosby95 said 13 days ago:

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.

distances said 13 days ago:

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.

Kye said 13 days ago:

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.

distances said 13 days ago:

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.

_jal said 13 days ago:

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.

0ld said 13 days ago:

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

cocochanel said 11 days ago:

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.

chrischen said 13 days ago:

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.

sytelus said 13 days ago:

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

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
tlrobinson said 13 days ago:

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.

caseysoftware said 13 days ago:

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

MisterBastahrd said 13 days ago:

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%.

dredds said 13 days ago:

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?

namibj said 13 days ago:

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

mandeepj said 13 days ago:

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

mackrevinack said 13 days ago:

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

wolco said 13 days ago:

Let me guess AshleyMadison.com?

staticautomatic said 13 days ago:

That's fascinating and very smart.

staticautomatic said 13 days ago:

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

slx26 said 13 days ago:

"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 petty tricks are not difficult to figure out. overall, some people might take it like you being interested in applying this kind of tactics yourself.

cdolan said 13 days ago:

For those in the chat who react by saying “this should be law!”

Laws have unintended consequences.

Also I subscribe to a number of services I barely ever use, generally because I got in with an account very early on, and the price I’m paying is usually 1/5 or less of the current retail price. I do not want companies to proactively cancel my service.

“Thats Absurd!” You may say... well for about 10 years I kept my original AT&T unthrottled and unlimited plan goong on an iPhone, then iPad, until my credit card expired and the payment lapsed. Of course my account want instantly closed and my grandfathered plan unavailable.

Did I use more than 30 GB a month? No. Could i buy that plan again around 2017-2018? Nope. I was happy to secure that for $20/mo.

Do I want companies to have more red tape and penalties, such that they proactively shut down accounts from legacy plans? Absolutely not, get off my lawn.

fedups said 13 days ago:

Planet money had a story where a similar superficially good idea ended up with Etrade selling a man's Amazon stock and deactivating his account after he didn't log in for a certain period of time. He was able to reclaim about $8000 for stock that would be worth ~$100k today.

https://www.npr.org/transcripts/799345159

JMTQp8lwXL said 13 days ago:

This is mildly infuriating because the whole point of long term investing is to buy a stock, and well, do nothing -- besides hold it for decades. The stock should continue being held whether a user logs in or not.

jedberg said 13 days ago:

> The stock should continue being held whether a user logs in or not.

FWIW ETrade agrees with this. It wasn't their policy that closed the account, it was a law that was in theory to protect consumers... from themselves?

kevas said 12 days ago:

Shouldn’t that have gone to the state’s Auditor & Controller’s Unclaimed Property dept? If you look at California’s Unclaimed Prop., you’ll see shares sitting in there. Heck, I have a few shares I need to claim.

brianpan said 12 days ago:

If I remember it did go to unclaimed property. The problem is that the stock today was worth much more than the selling price when they closed his account (and he intended it to be a long term holding).

jedberg said 12 days ago:

Yes, but different states have different rules. Apparently in that guy's state, they won't take shares, only cash value of shares.

JMTQp8lwXL said 12 days ago:

This could work for you, in the chance an investment didn't pan out and you're liquidated at the top. But for long periods of time, cash loses value to inflation. Seems off that states wouldn't accept shares. They're not as liquid as cash, but not far from it.

xmprt said 13 days ago:

Sounds like a lot of this could be fixed if the policy was to not sell the stock.

jackdh said 12 days ago:

For interested people. He didn't actually reclaim the $8000. Instead he is still fighting to get it's full potential worth.

cdolan said 13 days ago:

Perfect example. I forgot about this until now but I recall listening to this episode. Thank you!

bcrosby95 said 13 days ago:

My wife has an old gym membership for 24 hour fitness. She pays $120/year. Never uses it. Figures it's good "whoops, you're homeless" insurance - it's a place you can get dressed and take a shower.

baby said 13 days ago:

I personally stopped paying my previous gym membership because I was not going anymore, fuck year membership.

They emailed me a few times telling me I had to continue paying until the end of the membership, then called for a few months (never picked up), and now it's all gone.

Maybe my credit suffered, I have no idea, but I couldn't care less. I do not want to be a slave to this "credit score".

kchr said 13 days ago:

Wow, that's one use of the gym card I never considered. Genious.

jedberg said 13 days ago:

I got one of those free personal trainer sessions at the gym once. In chatting with my personal trainer, I discovered that he lives in an RV outside the gym, and uses the gym to shower every morning and uses their bathroom so he doesn't have to spend money emptying/filling his tanks on his RV. A solar panel on the roof covered his electricity.

Basically by being employed by the gym and living in an RV he had no recurring expenses expect car insurance.

dehrmann said 13 days ago:

Are you in the Bay Area? Mountain View has a lot of people living in RVs, and I've seen RVs in the Walmart parking lot by the 24 Hour Fitness, there.

jedberg said 13 days ago:

Yes. This was in Sunnyvale. There is a lot of RV living in Mt. View. For a while Google sanctioned living in an RV in their parking lot for their employees, but they seem to have clamped down on that.

The cops started to ticket people on El Camino too, but I think they stopped doing that during the lockdown.

antoinec said 13 days ago:

Not sure where it was, but I remember reading about someone saying, from experience, that when you are about to become homeless, signing up for a yearly gym membership is one of the best things to do (for this specific reason!).

dehrmann said 13 days ago:

If you've ever been to a 24 Hour Fitness, you quickly learn lots of people consider this use.

dylan62 said 13 days ago:

Netflix impressed me recently with how easy they made it for me to cancel my subscription. It means I will have no hesitation to re-subscribe in future, should I feel the urge.

I just wonder how long it will last. It sometimes feels like all the big successful consumer companies become accountancy-driven scumbags sooner or later. Fingers crossed Netflix can buck the trend and stay a nice company to deal with.

devmunchies said 13 days ago:

I recently interview with netflix and talked with the director that manages the subscribe/cancel flows. He said it's an absolute priority to keep the cancel experience as easy as possible. He even talked down an idea to add an extra content or modals before the cancel experience.

I was impressed.

dkdk8283 said 13 days ago:

I wish more companies followed this pattern. In order to cancel my gym membership I had to write a letter. They didn’t respond to my first one, so I had to send a second via certified mail and then it was done.

Sirius is also pretty scummy about cancelling, although they keep luring me in.

asdf123wtf said 13 days ago:

A lot of print publications will require a phone call or email to cancel even though you can manage all other aspects of your account digitally.

It's a great way to ensure I'll never return as a customer.

On the other hand, the "pause subscription" feature that many services are implementing pretty much guarantees that I'll resubscribe (even if just for a little while) in the future - because inevitably, they'll have something exclusive that I want to watch.

skohan said 13 days ago:

I would think this might be triggered by a decline in revenue. When Netflix can't continue to grow organically into new markets and the share price starts to suffer, they might resort to less friendly tactics for increasing the revenue per customer.

hrktb said 13 days ago:

It might also come from detecting recurring patterns and trying to facilitate them.

Before the simplified version, we already used to only register to Netflix during long vacations, binge watch whatever we wanted (typically Black Mirror and Sherlock) and cancel the rest of the year.

Now that it’s way easier, there’s less friction in reenabling the account when there’s a series we want to watch and set the subscripting to cancel again at the end of the month.

_squared_ said 13 days ago:

Netflix joined the Motion Picture Association not so long ago. I'd recon they are well into the transition from startup mentality to dominant bureaucracy-driven business mentality.

jedberg said 13 days ago:

I think they joined the MPAA so they could influence it towards their more liberal views on how content should be released. If anything I think it will mean other companies relax their rules.

koheripbal said 13 days ago:

It's easy to be noble when you're making more profit than God.

The real test is how they behave when competition heats up.

devmunchies said 13 days ago:

a premium experience is their best defense against the competition, and they know this.

raiyu said 13 days ago:

I always wonder when a company does this if it is completely altruistic or if something else is going on behind the scenes.

Maybe notifying customers gets them to reactivate, maybe if they resubscribe later they can charge more, maybe it’s better for financial reporting and projecting subscriber counts.

On the other hand it could just be a rare moment of a company doing right by the customer.

spiralganglion said 13 days ago:

We do this at my company, and it is purely for altruistic reasons. If people aren't happily making good use of my service, I don't want their money. That's the entire calculus.

Netflix is vastly bigger, granted, so who knows what machinations are afoot for them. But it is certainly believable to me that a company could choose to do something explicitly anti-greedy.

dyslexit said 13 days ago:

Is your company private? If you're not heavily funded by investors you probably have more freedom to behave according to your morals than if it were otherwise. Public companies are always looking to meet shareholder expectations on the other hand.

Not saying they can't occasionally make altruistic decisions like this, just that more people's interests are being weighed.

wpietri said 13 days ago:

That's not a requirement or anything. There's no law that says you have to maximize short-term revenue at the expense of customer happiness.

I think it's become common because the average public company CEO tenure has fallen by 50% over the same period that their compensation has gone up 10x. Now it's in their strong interest to juice the quarterly numbers and not worry about anything particularly long term, because that's going to be the problem of some other sucker. And similar incentives apply all down the executive hierarchy. The faster people move around, the easier it is to make bonus-related metrics go up even if it harms things a few years down the line.

rypskar said 13 days ago:

Always might seem a bit strong, it is always according to shareholder capitalism. But many companies find that shared value creation [0] works better for them in the long term

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creating_shared_value

saluki said 13 days ago:

I'm amazed how many SaaS users are zOmBiE uSeRs, this is from working on client SaaS apps. One had about 20% of the users paying and not even logging in for months or even a year.

Props to Netflix for unsubscribing users who don't use the service.

hackissimo123 said 13 days ago:

I think the wider point is that it's amazing how lax and careless so many people are with their personal finances. They think nothing of wasting hundreds (thousands?) of $$$ a year on unnecessary purchases, including things that they don't even use (like old software subscriptions.) Then they complain that they're broke.

When I hear sob stories about how #{big_number}% of people can't afford an unexpected $500 bill, I'd love to know how many of those people would easily have $500 in savings if they cancelled all their unused subscriptions and stopped buying a new smartphone every year.

watwut said 13 days ago:

The assumption that people who don't use their subscriptions and those who can't afford emergency is unfounded.

With economic gap between poor and richer, it is quite easy for one segment not to worry about subscriptions and for another to not have money.

Anecdotally, programmers and other well paid people I know areally waaay more likely to buy subscriptions then people I know who don't have money.

The people who buy new phone every year are also incredibly rate among those I know - not even rich people do it.

scollet said 13 days ago:

To query this, is there a certain intagibility in SaaS that promotes impassive spending?

[Edited]

saystupidthings said 13 days ago:

Spoken like someone who has never worked a minimum wage (or close to it) job. There is no savings. There is no extra smartphone. There is barely food and rent.

usrusr said 13 days ago:

Were those B2B SaaS? Subscriptions are a huge controlling challenge for businesses with more than a few employees. If they are easily available people will think that it's fine to keep them running, I they have to jump through hoops to get them they will try to avoid repeating the process.

jessaustin said 13 days ago:

Sure, businesses like to control spending, but this scenario seems backwards. If the hoops have been jumped through to get the subscription approved once, and one might need to use it again in future, why would one ever cancel it? Whereas, if subscription approvals were easy, one would be more likely to worry about spending the firm's money unnecessarily.

This is sort of like the fact that strict border controls encourage undocumented immigrants to stay once they've passed the border once.

ycombinete said 13 days ago:

Why have you capitalised “zombie users” like that? Is this a reference to something?

saluki said 13 days ago:

no, I just do that with words like cRaZy, ZoMbIe, iNsAne, oHIo for fun when messaging with friends.

phyzome said 13 days ago:

These days I mostly see people use wAcKY cAPs to mock a phrase, similar to scare quotes.

sillysaurusx said 13 days ago:

If someone is giving you their money, how do you know they don't want to use your service?

Many people give money to ensure that a service is available when they need it.

jackson1442 said 13 days ago:

> Many people give money to ensure that a service is available when they need it.

Netflix, as a service, takes ~10 minutes to set up. This might be the case for a software suite like CC, where you might need to download a massive amount of data, or other software where you pay annually or enter into some kind of contract, but Netflix is strictly monthly and easy to sign up for by design.

utopcell said 13 days ago:

That is mostly, but not entirely true. If one's Netflix account is deactivated for more than 10 months, they lose their history, preferences and personalized results.

lotsofpulp said 13 days ago:

When I did have Netflix, the history/preference/personalized results were a detriment to my experience, as Netflix would intentionally make it harder to find what you wanted to watch and jumble things around constantly to make their content library seem bigger than it was.

vkou said 13 days ago:

I assume that ~99% of Netflix's users have no idea that this is the case.

drusepth said 13 days ago:

Netflix also has use-cases where it's much more difficult to sign up. For example, someone who watches Netflix on a game console (Xbox, Switch, etc) might only occasionally watch it, and also have a much longer sign-up process (not only the flow, but also dealing with console keyboard, not having a password manager, etc). Ditto for people who use other hardware like Chromecasts and such and may not have a dedicated "computer" where it's quick to just sign up from when they find they've been downgraded.

I also run a business designed to be used in the moment when an author is struck with inspiration. It takes less than a minute to upgrade or downgrade (and some users choose to only upgrade for hours at a time each month with no penalty, aka a month of subscription time sometimes lasts a full year), but when I experimented with automatic downgrades to those who hadn't signed in all month I got complaints that they "weren't able to just log in and use the service they paid for".

Could just be a notice thing (improving messaging to more reliably let users know they've been downgraded), an option (letting users opt-in/out of automatic downgrading), or have other solutions (maybe refunding instead of downgrading?), but it does seem that at least some users like to feel like they're paying for something to be "at their fingertips" when they need it.

function_seven said 13 days ago:

I’m Netflix’s case, aren’t they notifying the inactive users first, telling them that they’ll be canceled unless they request otherwise?

That seems like the right way to go.

krtong said 13 days ago:

It probably also stops people from unsubscribing, which means they may check on Netflix more often and possibly watch something again. Also if they go to resubscribe they may fall prey to the signup form attrition rate, so ensuring they don't have to fill that out again helps.

smabie said 13 days ago:

Really the only valid reason to do this is that the goodwill will help them make more money in the future. Strictly losing money with no upside in the future is in violation of the "duty of loyalty" that all corporate officers have toward shareholders.

mehrdadn said 13 days ago:

> Strictly losing money with no upside in the future is in violation of the "duty of loyalty" that all corporate officers have toward shareholders.

I'm pretty sure that's just the absurd HN take on the "duty of loyalty", not an actual fact.

Also, if you absolutely need a pessimistic reason, I imagine it would avoid headaches with customers complaining (regardless of who's right).

bsanr2 said 13 days ago:

This. If someone is paying for your service and not using it, perhaps they have an inaccurate idea of what your service (and their payments) actually entail. If that's the case, then you have a customer who's going to come to you eventually to figure out what the hell they've been paying you for all this time, and/or in need of a particularly expensive crash training course (because it's coming out of nowhere). Better to drop them and then onboard them again as new customers (which, functionally, they would be) if they decide to come back.

There ARE industries that survive on the, "One loud sign-up multiple silent payment extractions," model; everyone hates them and they have to ju~st skirt regulations to get by ("I'm sorry, we didn't receive your cancellation, please fax it with proof of necessity, last month's payment is still due.").

goodside said 13 days ago:

If I sign up for a gym membership and then don’t show up for months on end, I don’t feel like I’ve been swindled — I knew that’s how it works when I signed up. I’m not confused about what a gym membership is for or why I’m paying for it. I might still never cancel because I don’t want to admit how lazy I am, so each instance of me considering the wasted money ends with me thinking, “I really should get to the gym more. Maybe next week.”

This same dynamic plays out with any service that sells you long-term self-improvement but is burdensome to use. Exercise tracking apps, diet tracking apps, health-conscious meal kits, subscription lessons for music or foreign languages, etc. There are shadier examples for sure, but it’s not always cut-and-dry evil.

S_A_P said 13 days ago:

On the flip side I think it’s probably cheaper to cut ties with an inactive user than deal with small claims lawsuits, chargebacks and other hassles from people who forget they are subscribed.

Honestly I could see this being an honesty test class action at some point.

TeMPOraL said 13 days ago:

On the other hand, you can also do it nicely even in self-improvement space. Beeminder comes to mind; they let you set your productivity goals and costs of not meeting them, and they only ever charge you if you fail, and accept that you've failed - charge is automatic, but if you tell them there were extenuating circumstances, they'll give you that money back.

mattkrause said 13 days ago:

That's not really true.

The standard, from In Re Walt Disney, is that business decisions aren’t reviewable unless “the exchange was so one-sided that no business person of ordinary, sound judgment could conclude that the corporation has received adequate consideration".

In, Shlensky v. Wrigley, the Chicago Cubs’ were sued for refusing to install lighting for nighttime games: their president believed baseball was best as “a daytime sport." This is absurdly nebulous (and kind of bizarre), but the Cubs nevertheless won.

That decision was based on Davis v. Louisville Gas and Electric Co, which says “the directors are chosen to pass upon such questions and their judgment unless shown to be tainted with fraud is accepted as final. The judgment the directors of the corporation enjoys the benefit of a presumption that it was formed in good faith, and was designed to promote the best interests of the corporation they serve.”

It is probably true that this policy earns Netflix some intangible goodwill. It might plausibly make them more money. However, even if it didn't, it would still be within its rights to implement such a policy.

rconti said 13 days ago:

Long term, both being, and being seen as the kind of company that doesn't needlessly abuse their customers, is in the best financial interests of a company.

lotsofpulp said 13 days ago:

Unless your customers have no choice, like Comcast, Altice, Charter, etc.

redis_mlc said 13 days ago:

US courts have ruled that company management have "wide latitude" in how they manage the company.

(The reason is that the courts don't want to get involved in the minutae of running private companies. They'd rather you just update your company bylaws.)

However, shareholders, or most famously private equity (PE) companies, may pressure mgmt. to adopt certain policies and goals, and use their voting shares to encourage or even enforce that.

em-bee said 13 days ago:

there is no duty to shareholders to maximise profits.

see the references in this post:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16171149

ponker said 13 days ago:

Thanks for putting “duty of loyalty” in scare quotes because it is about as real as the “boogeyman.”

cortesoft said 13 days ago:

Amazon did this for me back in 2005 when they introduced Prime. I used the free trial for an order (to get it in two days), but then didn't order anything else and forgot to cancel.

They sent me an email that they weren't going to charge me because I hadn't used it, but I was free to sign up in the future if I decided I wanted it.

It was so refreshing, it made me a lifelong customer.

btrettel said 13 days ago:

Amazon definitely doesn't do this now. Amazon sometimes offers me a free Prime trial and they make it fairly clear that if you don't cancel before the conclusion of the trial, they'll automatically subscribe you to Prime and charge you. I'll sometimes take the trial but I always mark my calendar to cancel before the renewal.

Personally, I consider this to be a dark pattern and it makes me reluctant to sign up for any trial or even subscription services in general. I'm glad that Amazon is upfront about it but would prefer that they didn't do this at all.

kevin_thibedeau said 13 days ago:

The bigger dark pattern is how they shuffle around the buttons in the checkout to trick you into adding a prime trial.

frosted-flakes said 13 days ago:

I'm pretty sure they let you disable auto-renew immediately after signing up.

What's sketchy is that Amazon's Audible deletes all your unused book credits if you unsubscribe. If you don't know what to buy with those credits and you want to unsubscribe, you face the decision to keep buying credits, or lose the credits you already paid for.

Fortunately, there are a couple of workarounds. There's the option to pause your subscription for 3 months, or you can buy a book, cancel the subscription, then return the book to recapture the credit once you find a book you actually want to read.

bluntfang said 13 days ago:

last i checked, they let me cancel prime effective immediately, not allowing me to continue my year that i purchased. There isn't an option to stop auto renewal.

csunbird said 13 days ago:

They did add a "Notify me three days before renewal" button, but still finding the correct pattern to cancel it is a pain.

galaxyr said 13 days ago:

I was in a similar situation except I didn't use it even for a single order. They kept charging me after the free trial period. After a while I realized this, and cancelled. I reached out to them requesting a refund, at least partial since I haven't used it even once. But they did not refund any.

mehrdadn said 13 days ago:

I'm guessing your case was more like 2015 Amazon than 2005?

galaxyr said 11 days ago:

2013ish

NicoJuicy said 13 days ago:

Amazon does NOT do this now!

Their Prime subscription was a pain to cancel in Belgium. I found it on the German site, even though I always use English and there for the English site.

They also use dark patterns for it, unsubscribing is very confusing.

csunbird said 13 days ago:

Agreed on the dark pattern and difficulty of cancelling. Today I cancelled my Prime subscription and had to first the cancel button, then I had to click "Cancel my subscription" button three times, which I had to find it along with ambiguous, same color "Keep my subscription and pay" buttons.

NicoJuicy said 12 days ago:

Yeah, I unsubscribed for their unlawful behaviour in France

kylecazar said 13 days ago:

On a related note -- Audible free trial seems.. offered cyclically?

I seem to sign up every year or so, spend my credits, and cancel. They keep offering it though, and now I'm considering buying (as I enjoy the medium, turns out), so I suppose it worked.

yreg said 13 days ago:

OTOH I stopped using Audible and forgot to cancel it.

Then I realized it and thought to myself — nevermind, I have the credits, I'll eventually use them up.

Nope. There is a credit cap and after you reach it they'll happily charge you without providing any service.

fyfy18 said 13 days ago:

Prime does that for me too, recently it has changed from free to one-week-for-£1 now though. The great thing is if you forget to cancel at the end of the trial and they charge you, they will refund you if you haven't placed any orders in that billing period.

rantwasp said 13 days ago:

yes. i’ve done the same thing. they either have a hard time attracting new customers or have a hard time keeping track of who benefited from the trial

phatfish said 13 days ago:

Shame that corporate responsibility is out the window now then.

You can't do anything on the Amazon store without being goaded into signing up for Prime and having to triple check what you are clicking on during checkout to make sure you don't sign up by mistake.

My wife already has a Netflix subscription despite Amazon's attempts to hook her on Prime (I'll take credit for stopping that). After this this news it seems it was definitely the correct choice.

sneak said 13 days ago:

They don’t do the same with EC2.

safog said 13 days ago:

Early days of EC2 were chock full of stories like this - Of kids / engineers running up their CC bill because they screwed up in some way they didn't anticipate and Amazon CS would bail them out.

I don't think this was a cynical marketing ploy designed from the top down either, it was a very natural thing for the company to be customer obsessed and trying to do right by them.

anonymoushn said 13 days ago:

At the request of an EC2 support staff, I left some machines running to help them debug an issue where machines became unreachable within minutes of being created. I was erroneously charged for this. Throughout the years Amazon has variously said that they could not refund me because they had no records from this time period or offered me AWS credits. I expect to the situation to never be resolved.

akiselev said 13 days ago:

> I don't think this was a cynical marketing ploy designed from the top down either, it was a very natural thing for the company to be customer obsessed and trying to do right by them.

It's trying to do right by the legal and finance departments, not by the customers. Going after someone for anything less than a mid to high five figure AWS bill is never worth it because the legal costs are astronomical, the defendant probably can't pay in the end, and the cost of defending will drain the customer of any more resources that could have been spent on the cloud.

It's the cost of doing business. The choice is between trying to bleed a rock or a safe bet that LTV will be higher than the marginal cost.

ukoki said 13 days ago:

Just one theory: If I go to a restaurant I expect they'll give me to-go box if I ask for it; If I accidentally buy they wrong size shirt from a high-street retailer, I expect to be able to return it. If a business doesn't meet these generally-agreed on "consumer expectations" they may be complained about viciously.

If Netflix can successfully normalize "only charge me if I use the service" into a basic consumer expectation for subscription businesses it might cost Netflix a little, but it might cost their competitors a lot more.

bschne said 13 days ago:

Interesting argument, I am curios though why this would hurt other streaming services more than netflix? Is this based on an assumption like "netflix has more content so less people will not watch anything for a few months than on [other platform]" or something like that?

Klathmon said 13 days ago:

It could also be an attempt to beat the innovator's dilemma.

By putting a policy in place like this they're internally much more incentivised to ensure they are putting out consistently good content.

ukoki said 12 days ago:

Netflix competes with cable TV which has famously infuriating billing practices. they also compete with any “digital entertainment” you might choose to spend money on instead of Netflix: Xbox live, Spotify etc

oarsinsync said 13 days ago:

I hadn’t considered this angle and absolutely love it. I hope this becomes true.

goodside said 13 days ago:

At some point the cost-benefit calculus has to flip. Users on the extreme right-tail of the months-paid-but-unused distribution are a negligible amount of revenue but very likely to complain when they noticed they’ve paid for years of unused service. If the company refunds these users as a matter of policy, it creates uncertainty in the accounting and negates the value of them being allowed to keep paying. If no such policy exists, it creates a reputation risk: “YoungPersonApp bilks $2000 from grandma with Alzheimer’s”

“Doing the right thing” and “managing reputation risk” are often indistinguishable. The details of Machiavellian self-interest can be difficult to codify, so a semi-sincere effort to do the right thing can be safer.

kcolford said 13 days ago:

This is the essence of Dale Carnegie's argument why we should just do the right thing. It's always a hedge against losing reputation and that is always more valuable than the marginal benefits gained from the wrong thing.

mushufasa said 13 days ago:

It's probably worse for them if customers cancel, because customers are unlikely to resubscribe to netflix having cancelled versus trying a competitor streaming service. Better psychologically to have an inactive account than to lose an account.

(Also netflix would have to report all those unsubscribes to shareholders, but this way no one cancels and they're framing it positively as consumer-friendly).

So if netflix incentives people to people keep their accounts, they remove the friction from what would otherwise be a high-friction resubscribe.

As long as netflix believes they can get people to come back for an occasional exclusive content hit-show, then they can reactivate the payments for a while.

wtvanhest said 13 days ago:

They likely have to use the number of customers who are inactive and probable to request a refund, then use that estimate to calculate the size of a liability account which must be held on the balance sheet.

As it grows, that hits the pnl anyway so from an earnings perspective it doesn’t matter too much. Couple that with the cost of customer service calls etc. + the inactive customer count + the goodwill and the decision seems rational

TeMPOraL said 13 days ago:

My guess is that a big part of the reason is that Netflix realizes people are switching between streaming services all the time - this quarter they're paying for Netflix, next quarter they're paying for HBO Go, etc. So they don't want to be remembered as the service that's hard to cancel, otherwise people may be reluctant to come back to them.

karatestomp said 13 days ago:

It’s softer than a full cancellation, I bet. Cancellations were probably going the wrong way and this lets people “go inactive” without cancelling—coming back is just opening Netflix and starting a video, rather than re-subscribing. They want you not to have a reason to unsubscribe.

TheRealDunkirk said 13 days ago:

Does anyone else find it unfortunate that this entire topic is devoted to the fact that we find that a company being ethical about their business practice is so out of the ordinary, and we're spending a lot of energy guessing what nefarious motivation might lie behind it?

renewiltord said 13 days ago:

Yeah, HN's classic cynicism is in full effect here. The truth is that companies are made of people and very often the people just want to make a good thing that's nice and works well.

My favourite is Gusto. Why is Gusto so good? I only use it twice a year or so, the guy buying it isn't the guy using it, and the principal value in their business is integrations not UX. Well, Gusto is good because they want to be good. I'm happy with that explanation.

EmilioMartinez said 13 days ago:

It sounds like the most relevant thing to discuss too, and guessing that is always a good exercise too keep yourself on your toes. Large institutions mask often mask their intentions in ways very difficult to figure out, so maybe a thousand people can put it together. It sounds like misplaced effort only as long as nothing comes out.

andrewon said 13 days ago:

Making money is the reason why a for-profit business exists. Keep charging customers because they neglect to cancel is unpleasant, but can hardly be qualify as unethical.

innagadadavida said 13 days ago:

This is definitely the right thing to do.

The move is also brilliant in two ways: 1. More Netflixsters will realize now and start watching again. 2. Netflix is getting a lot of free publicity.

The Combined value of these two is worth far more to Netflix than whatever pennies in revenue they’ll lose.

jfoster said 13 days ago:

I'm guessing that "if you stop watching, we stop billing" helps a lot in getting users to sign up for a trial with their credit card. Not sure if it's been tested, but it does seem like a reassurance that might go a long way.

ponker said 13 days ago:

Pure altruism can be a great business and life strategy. How does someone feel when they realize they’ve spend thousands of dollars on a Netflix account they don’t use? It’s not in Netflix’s interest to have people out there hating Netflix.

Ever see a person who was just really great to everyone and the world seems to have rewarded them for it? That doesn’t always happen but sometimes it does.

econcon said 13 days ago:

It results in more support requests.

For example, often you hear angry customer who is like "can you refund me, I didn't use it this month, you can check your records"

Then request is passed on to some other employee who confirms that they really didn't use their account.

After that you issue refund.

In most cases, you end up issuing refund either way while in some cases customer forgets but he doesn't forget he got charged. So it counts towards negative experience even if a customer didn't complain about it.

If your company is here for long term then every negative experience matters.

jfoster said 13 days ago:

Probably also significantly reduces their chargeback costs.

larntz said 13 days ago:

This is an excellent question! I wouldn't be surprised if notifying someone that their subscription is cancelled due to inactivity would cause them to suddenly value their subscription.

I bet you're right.

thiht said 13 days ago:

I read once that for Netflix, these users were not seen as "easy money" but as a genuine problem, because that's revenue they can't count on to last.

Their action both removes a problem on their side and is good for customers. Win-win. So probably not entirely altruistic (nothing is), but at least partly.

m463 said 13 days ago:

It could just be the golden rule.

It could be canny business sense.

It could be both.

in a similar vein, Ikea umbrellas are discounted when it rains.

achillesheels said 13 days ago:

This is a great opportunity to thank Unbounce (https://unbounce.com/) - Years ago I was helping set up patient recruitment for a clinical research lab and forgot to cancel the sub after it was over. I got on chat about a week after the cycle ended and had that one billing cycle refunded. It was only $40 or something but the impression has lasted years probably in relation to all the horror stories I’m reading here.

kovek said 13 days ago:

I believe it's a good step to take as a company. They have the resources to do so. They will be ahead of other companies in that regard. Also, if it becomes a law that companies should _not_ charge inactive customers, Netflix will be ready.

dehrmann said 13 days ago:

> On the other hand it could just be a rare moment of a company doing right by the customer.

Arguably, doing right by the customer is selfish because it looks out for you business in the long term.

MintelIE said 13 days ago:

They can still count these customers as having active accounts when they talk business.

leonroy said 13 days ago:

A few years back I started to get a $12 charge from Lastpass on my Paypal account. I cancelled my account at Lastpass over 6 years ago so was puzzled why, especially since they don’t offer any sort of $12 service.

It took a lot of emails and complaining before Lastpass told me that it was due to me being an Xmarks (bookmark sync service) customer in 2009! Apparently they owned Xmarks briefly. Why the charge started a few years ago they have no idea.

Despite repeated attempts to cancel the charge via Lastpass and Paypal it still happens every year. Apparently neither company can stop it - so every year I complain, get the charge refunded and have to swallow the exchange rate fees on my credit card. Maddening and leaves me with zero good will towards either of these companies.

ideaman924 said 13 days ago:

Go into PayPal and check under "recurring payments," or "subscriptions." LastPass should be under there. Click it and then revoke the authorization and they shouldn't be able to bill you any longer.

Outside of this I am pretty sure no company is able to automatically bill you on PayPal without your consent, except for a select few companies like Nintendo (where you can pay on your Switch without authorizing any PayPal prompts).

JoeAltmaier said 13 days ago:

Change your credit card?

FrojoS said 13 days ago:

Is there no way to block them on PayPal??

juliand said 13 days ago:

If it's a recurring payment then yes, it should be under PayPal's My Preapproved Payments.

NKosmatos said 13 days ago:

I don’t understand how people leave subscription or renewal charges unchecked in their credit cards. I can understand keeping a subscription unused but still acknowledging and paying for it (for whatever personal reasons), but having a charge in your credit card without knowing what exactly it is or why, sounds a bit strange to me. Could be that I’m not rich enough and I’m still paying attention to every single €/$/£ being charged :-)

gear54rus said 13 days ago:

One of the reasons subscription model is cancer: they hope you'll forget it's on.

mav3rick said 13 days ago:

Virtual Cards with set expiry numbers will end this game

vbezhenar said 13 days ago:

I'd prefer my bank to allow me to manually approve every payment, e.g. via smartphone application. It would be easy to understand, fast enough, with some options like "approve netflix forever". That would be ideal for me. And if I don't like this particular payment, just decline and move on.

Those agents who pull my money without my explicit consent every time are the reason I'm keeping my card with minimal amount of money (I don't use credit cards, only debt cards).

scrollaway said 13 days ago:

You're describing something called direct debit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_debit). In the US, you may know it as ACH, but the american version of direct debit is a far cry from EU direct debits.

When setting up a DD, you can give a european company your IBAN. They will be able to make withdrawal requests, directly to your bank account. Your bank will usually give you full control on what you can do with those. For example, my bank Bunq (https://bunq.me/) allows me to accept once, or automatically accept any debit request up to whatever amount I choose per period from that same merchant.

Direct Debits are free. You bypass credit card fees (which in Europe are much lower than in the US in the first place but still percentage-based). They are also usually real-time (though slower than the credit card network, and depending on banks and fraud checks there can be latency of up to a couple of days).

Denvercoder9 said 13 days ago:

We have that in the EU.

renewiltord said 13 days ago:

You can get that in the UK through DD but I just set alerts on all my cards for spend over $0 so I get a notification on all spend.

spurgu said 13 days ago:

I've found that these are not accepted everywhere where normal (physical cards) are.

gear54rus said 13 days ago:

Do you think someone who forgets their subscriptions will take the time to set that up?:)

Jare said 13 days ago:

Yeah I would say setting it up now is much more likely than remembering to cancel later.

globular-toast said 13 days ago:

There's a huge inequality between those who understand finance and those who don't. You don't get rich just by working hard. You have to understand money to get ahead. But many people are essentially afraid of money.

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
billfruit said 13 days ago:

It would have been better if they don't collect the charges for a month if you haven't watched even a single thing on Netflix for that month.

dawnerd said 13 days ago:

That’d actually keep me subscribed longer I think. Right now I’ll batch stuff up and binge it all in a month and then cancel for another how ever months it takes.

antpls said 13 days ago:

By reading the title, I thought that was the deal. It would have been amazing to me.

Disappointed after reading the article. TLDR : they cancel your subscription after 1 year of inactivity

IMAYousaf said 13 days ago:

It's so funny to see this at the top of HN when right below it I saw this thread:

"Tell HN: Interviewed with Triplebyte? Your profile is about to become public"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23279837

White Pattern? vs. Dark Pattern

kerkeslager said 13 days ago:

If I pay for something, I want to own it. Revocable-access[1] subscription-based services are just a form of rent-seeking, and I'm deeply concerned about how this affects our society. As such, I'm not a direct customer[2] of Netflix and likely never will be.

That said, I think it's important to acknowledge when people you disagree with do good stuff--this is how we make sure that our disagreements are based on principles and logic rather than grudges.

Of the subscription services out there, it's my impression that Netflix is one of the best. They avoid a lot of dark patterns, and this latest action of not charging customers who don't watch is a very upstanding action, especially since it cuts into their profits in a really direct way.

There are still complaints I have about Netflix[3], but the real heart of the issue is that this cannot last forever. There's simply too much counter-incentive for a company to walk away from a revenue stream like this. And with a subscription business model, there's nothing to keep them honest, because Netflix has all the control.

[1] This is a term I'm basically inventing on the spot, based on something I've been thinking about lately. Physical print newspapers were subscription based but they weren't revocable-access: you received the newspaper on subscription, but once you received it, you owned it. This differs fundamentally from web-based subscriptions. With web-based subscriptions, if you let your subscription lapse, the site revokes your access to content which you previously had access to.

[2] Most people around me have Netflix subscriptions, so I end up watching a lot of Netflix with people, despite not having an account myself.

[3] a) Patterns that manipulate dopamine response. b) Glossing over credits so content creators don't get credit. c) Monopolistic practiced with regard to tethering content creation and content distribution together.

Hello71 said 13 days ago:

> Physical print newspapers were subscription based but they weren't revocable-access: you received the newspaper on subscription, but once you received it, you owned it. This differs fundamentally from web-based subscriptions. With web-based subscriptions, if you let your subscription lapse, the site revokes your access to content which you previously had access to.

But with online subscriptions, you also gain access to historical content: if you sign up for a traditional newspaper, you don't immediately gain access to previously published papers, only those published subsequent to your subscription. Modern online subscriptions are more similar to traditional libraries, providing access to historical as well as future content. Presumably this is a major factor why Netflix and other services insist on calling their collections "libraries", despite being otherwise dissimilar. I think it's an interesting question though: would people pay for a Netflix subscription that provided irrevocable access, but only to current and future content? I would say probably not: a significant portion of the value proposition of Netflix is due to their historical content: "you can watch anything you want" (that we have), regardless of when it was published. Would you pay for this service?

kerkeslager said 13 days ago:

Well, I only brought up physical print newspapers to explain what "revocable access" means, not to make any sort of argument. Arguments by analogy aren't valid logic anyway.

Non-revocable-access subscriptions are, in my opinion, just a convenience layer around the ownership model. The man function of these subscriptions is automating the buying of something you buy on a regular basis anyway. There's an element of vendor lock-in in some models, but not all.

There are plenty of examples of the ownership model gaining access to an extensive archive: it used to be that you could buy the Criterion Collection on DVD, for example. Presented this way, however, it becomes immediately obvious that people don't actually want to pay for the entire archive, at least not at the price the owners of the archive wanted to sell it at. You don't want the entire Netflix archive, you only want a few movies and shows from it. The primary problem here is that archive contents are massively overpriced: nobody wants to pay $8 for every DVD in the Criterion Collection. In an ownership model you have to let people pick and choose the parts of the archive they want and buy only those, or if you're selling the entire archive in one chunk, the price per-unit has to be low enough to justify making the buyer pay for vast swaths of content they don't actually want.

Steam does a good job with this: they generally price their older games at a price that people are actually willing to pay, and their bundles tend to be intelligently grouped so that if you're interested in one of the bundled games, you're probably interested in at least a few of the others.

jedberg said 12 days ago:

> Glossing over credits so content creators don't get credit.

FWIW, Netflix gives the producer of the content the choice on whether that happens or not. So it's the producers who are actually choosing to skip the credits, not Netflix. Netflix just gives the option.

> Monopolistic practiced with regard to tethering content creation and content distribution together.

Netflix would rather not do that. Remember, they started as a DVD service. The nice thing was that because of Fair Use, they could have any movie the want on the service. If streaming worked the same way, and they could just buy "retail" copies of movies and stream them, they would be much happier.

They only shifted to the content creation model because they had to, because it was cheaper than licensing someone else's content.

renewiltord said 13 days ago:

It's nothing novel. It's like a concert ticket entitles you to a 3 hour subscription to an event that you don't get to keep, and a movie ticket means you get to sit in a place for 90 minutes. The event happens and then it's gone. Only your memory remains. You don't get to keep your seat.

jaakl said 13 days ago:

It is not just ”altruistic”. The idea is clever: they loose <0.1% inactive users but will win new ones blocked now behind worry ”what if I will not really use it”. Their bet is that the second group could be larger than first, and by order of magnitude. And if not, then it is still not so expensive marketing. I wish ’use only if you really use’ would become norm.

sfj said 13 days ago:

> I wish ’use only if you really use’ would become norm.

I wouldn't look at them as an shining beacon. They only cancel if you haven't watched it for a year, and none of your money is refunded, so it's not that great of safety net.

s1artibartfast said 13 days ago:

It is still pretty great. A lot of people would happily exchange one year of fees for having to unsubscribe. Think of the application for the deceased or incapacitated. Running down every subscription a deceased parent could have had is a huge pain.

sfj said 12 days ago:

Why not just cancel their cc?

s1artibartfast said 10 days ago:

some things roll over to collections, which can also be difficult to unwind.

notadog said 13 days ago:
adav said 13 days ago:

In the UK at least, Netflix is often used by fraudsters to check stolen credit card numbers. I bet Netflix were fed up with expense of dealing with all the fraudulent transactions. Or if not the expense, Netflix doesn’t want the negative press that they’re profiting from all these unsuspecting victims.

have_faith said 13 days ago:

Could this feasibly be law? what are the potential down sides? That is a company has to stop charging for a service if the service isn't used for a specified amount of time, 12 months or so etc. Like a gym couldn't just keep charging you if their records show you never turned up.

minikites said 13 days ago:

Why should the government interfere in market outcomes?

kappuchino said 13 days ago:

If that is not a rethorical question, here are my thoughts: Consumer protection laws/rules can actually help establishing a better marketplace.

Example: DSL Connectivity.

If there are only a few market participants and the allowed lenght for contracts is 24 months, it will be 24 months. This is bad for a number of reasons to me: - First, a different (and hopefully better/cheaper/cleverer serivce needs to "endure" that only 1/24th of the customer base per month could change. That is also the problem for customers who have issues with the Provider. - Second, this gives incentives for what I call "dishonest" offers: Marketed as "half off", its only half of the first year (or only six months), then full price for the rest. Hacker News is full of people who are good at math, but this appeals mainly for people who are not. Or who don't have the choice when they are already short on money. - Third: Part of the calculation is the rate of people who might not use the service to moving, death, etc. - and I don't want the company or me be part of that.

When it comes to other types of contracts (mobile operators, gym services, ...) the stabiltiy of income is still guranteed with shorter spans if you provide a great service. This is proven by markets where these types of protections exist.

And netflix shows that you can even go month by month. I believe thats also because people can buy dvds/blue rays, rent/buy online, go to cinemas, etc - so there are a lot of competing options, forcing you to excel in service. And thats vs. "free" bittorent, rogue streaming, too.

have_faith said 13 days ago:

Should vulnerable people be left to fend for themselves without government intervention? What's the issue with laws that prevent the market from abusing it's position of power against vulnerable people?

JoeAltmaier said 13 days ago:

Because, scammers.

jmpman said 13 days ago:

I just got an email saying that account was cancelled. For some reason I signed up for a second account, so I could get DVD service, received the DVD and never cancelled. Should probably return the disk... if I can find it.

jzer0cool said 13 days ago:

This is why Netflix is a honest company. 1. Reasonable prices for subscription (when you watch). 2. Does not "charge/steal" from customers.

In contrast, I an older article how this one phone company charged an elderly women in rent for a rotary phone.

> https://www.computerworld.com/article/2483100/at-t-charges-e...

viburnum said 13 days ago:

Probably should be a law to do this automatically after four months or so.

wayupthere said 13 days ago:

A good way to rank the level of scumminess among SV companies: Signup with a credit card and don't validate your email address or ever sign into your account. You'd be amazed how many companies will happily start charging you.

jonas21 said 13 days ago:

How is that scummy? You bought something, and they're charging you for it.

croshan said 13 days ago:

How can you cancel (without cc chargebacks) if you typed in the wrong email address?

jasonkester said 13 days ago:

Email and ask.

I routinely cancel subscriptions for S3stat customers who have forgotten which old employee first signed up for the service, or just don’t want to bother logging back in to do so. A name, or even company name is plenty.

monadic2 said 13 days ago:

I imagine it’s scummy when your site is used for fraud.

wayupthere said 13 days ago:

I should clarify. You sign up for a free trial and never log in and never confirm your account. Scum kings will still begin charging you after your free trial ends.

mod said 13 days ago:

This could also be explained by poor engineering. It's basically an exception to the rule that might be overlooked.

Shouldn't be the case for a big company, but a smaller one- man startup could easily make this mistake and not be scummy.

renewiltord said 13 days ago:

What? No thank you. Having to go ensure I'm keeping all my grandfathered accounts together would be a nightmare. Jesus Christ. I have no problem paying $2/mo for some random feature I've forgotten about.

If you want to do it, set it up so all charges must result in 24-hour notification to customer and option to cancel future charges.

This whole reaction makes me understand why California has all these backwards-ass propositions. Everyone just wants to make any damned random thing a law.

BrianHenryIE said 13 days ago:

It seems ~GDPR, if you're never logging in, are you really a customer? If you're not a customer, the company has no right to hold your data.

zerd said 13 days ago:

Imagine if gyms did this with memberships. They'd lose a fortune.

thiscatis said 13 days ago:

Because it's against their business model. They want you to subscribe and not come.

raverbashing said 13 days ago:

Because not alienating customers is bad for business apparently

No wonder "no contract" chains are growing in some countries.

Less BS for the consumer, even if they have to "pay more" (i.e. the actual cost of the service).

(But yeah in the case where you actually want to pay for a gym membership and not go, those seem optimized for it)

krick said 13 days ago:

Exactly. And while I don't want have the urge to use Netflix anyway, I'd sign-up for a gym that charges for actual usage without hesitation.

But that's why it only more interesting. We all are sadly accustomed that selling subscriptions you would never is the business model of most gyms. But then, what would be the reason for Netflix not to do this? This is really weird, I don't believe they would do this just to be good guys, and I don't see what can be the reason for them to do that otherwise.

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
notadog said 13 days ago:

> Netflix says it will now start to cancel accounts that have watched nothing in more than a year, but have still been paying subscription fees.

> Netflix said less than half a percent of its user-base falls into that category.

> Almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, nearly double the new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019.

notadog said 13 days ago:

With 182.8 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, that means that less than 914,000 accounts have watched nothing in the past year.

ilaksh said 13 days ago:

Not sure I believe that. Even if it's true, it means they include everyone who watched a _single_ thing.

I feel like they are doing the minimum change necessary to try to reduce legal problems. They have actually probably had a lot of people try to sue them for charging them for a service they have not used for months and months, when they forget about it and then notice the charges.

cma said 13 days ago:

Probably also reducing chargebacks to get a lower fee from CC companies.

swilliamsio said 13 days ago:

> Almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, nearly double the new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019.

No doubt the quarantine was a solid motivator to sign up.

AstralStorm said 13 days ago:

It's also a good security practice - their payment, account and other personal data can be offloaded to cold storage. Both harder to damage and harder to take over.

rb808 said 13 days ago:

Credit cards only last a few years before theyre expired and replaced. I'd think only very few accounts are unwatched, after 24 months I'd think more than half of CCs would have expired anyway.

jacobwil said 13 days ago:

Card networks offer services to receive updated credit card numbers for mutual customers now and have for a bunch of years.

If your credit card expires, many subscription providers will get the updated details automatically.

Here’s an article with some details on the topic: https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/card-updater-se...

rconti said 13 days ago:

Thanks for the link. I've also had the utterly bizarre experience of a service charging my old card number for MONTHS after it expires, have the charges go through, THEN tell me my card is expired 3-6months later and force me to update.

Probably a related thing where they want to keep receiving revenue from me without interruption to my service, but ultimately need to confirm it's not fraud?

ehnto said 13 days ago:

It's a really weird problem to have, I've had it in one of my products. Someone signed up and I was super happy to have a paying subscription. The first month or so I could see they hadn't yet made use of the service. No worries, maybe they just hadn't got around to it. Couple more months, still no use, what to do? Could it be fraud, but how does that work? No one gets anything from me, and I get all the money?

Do I cancel their subscription? Is that the right thing to do from a customer service perspective? I have no idea. Sending an email that says "Hey, um, did you do this accidentally?" is a bit unprofessional. I tried contacting them to no avail, to see if they needed help setting up to keep it professional but still remind them they have this recurring subscription they might not want. Eventually I ended their subscription and left a professional sounding "We noticed you're not using our service, so we have paused your subscription." email and ended it.

I still sometimes wonder if it wasn't a friend or friendly stranger who wanted to support me, and if it was I must sincerely thank them.

zwily said 13 days ago:

Slack does this too, every month. (Maybe it’s more common in enterprise offerings?)

jaggederest said 13 days ago:

Yeah I appreciated it a lot. They also prorate by active users, so if you're paying for 50 users and only 20 were active, you get a 60% discount. Super solid as a way of doing business.

pjmorris said 13 days ago:

Good on them.

I spent ~five years with a Netflix subscription that I never watched. I'd joke that I ought to get a Christmas card from them, because I was one of their very best customers.

Even now, I'll flip back and forth between paying and not paying, because I only use the service occasionally. I suspect it's less hassle for them to keep people like me on the books than have us fade in and out.

andy_ppp said 13 days ago:

Can we talk about Apple subscriptions please... I understand the desire to make money by Apple but these trials that no one uses and then being charge a hundred quid for a year’s subscription... even if Apple makes a lot of money operating the racket it’s deeply wrong.

Well done to Netflix on this I really cannot see an upside apart from the awesome brand loyalty they increased by doing this!

carapace said 13 days ago:

Ha! I have to go cancel my Webfaction account.

They're a decent service but they were acquired by GoDaddy (who I think are douchebags) so I stopped using the service. But I have been forgetting to actually cancel it for years now.

For a while they were changing me ~$10/month. Nice for them and not painful enough for my lazy ass to jump though whatever hoops they may have set in place to cancel.

Then one day I let the balance on the debit card they have on file for me fall to zero, so their auto-debits were failing. Eventually they sent me an email saying that they would stop charging it, but... They will (and do!) try again from time to time. Just to see if it will work.

Rather than just cancelling the service (that I haven't touched in at least 4-5 years) they leave my account in a zombie state and periodically attempt to harvest it again.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED) cheeky bastards, eh?

notadog said 13 days ago:

It would be nice if other subscription based products did this also.

sitkack said 13 days ago:

For those reading at Netflix, thank you!

I worked for a game company and we had a small number of folks who bought lots of games and never activated them. I lobbied management that it was unethical to keep these peoples' money, it was unethical, I was laughed at.

Now that that is out of the way, can we talk about parental controls?

svara said 13 days ago:

They know how to treat their customers. Meanwhile, cancelling a Wall Street Journal subscription online is simply impossible, they have you call their hotline. Unless you're in California, in which case you can cancel online. It's ridiculous and frankly should be illegal.

ricotico060 said 13 days ago:

Couldn’t agree more, tried to cancel my membership a week ago and just didn’t because the process was so long

leppr said 13 days ago:

This is a good move, but still fairly lax (I'd personally like a reminder after as little as 2 months). This difference in preference by users and the top comment with an example of the reversed strategy used by a shady dating site, surface the point that pushing this responsibility to the providers doesn't scale.

What we need is good UX for users to manage their various recurring payments, and cancel them by easily blocking payments to specific companies. That's one thing Paypal for instance does right with its "automated payments" dashboard.

The current system of customers having to trust companies by default doesn't work in a market where antisocial behaviour is not more heavily punished.

_hao said 13 days ago:

If I have to give out my card details anywhere especially for a subscription based service I look beforehand on how I can cancel it. Companies have no shame in leaving you forget a subscription going on forever. That should be punishable by law.

Also my main bank is now Monzo (based in the UK) and there I get a notification on my phone for every transaction I make. I also see a list of all the committed spending for a month which includes all subscription based services I have (some of them I had to mark myself as such because Monzo can't distinguish if they are recurring or not). To be honest I think every mobile bank application should offer this out of the box. It's 2020...

gonational said 13 days ago:

If you send the message that “don’t worry, if you don’t use your account, you won’t be charged”, it has the effect of making people think of Netflix as an account they can just keep forever.

My guess is that they put together data internally that showed e.g. 3% of users become dormant for longer than a quarter, while 5% of people cancel their accounts after a quarter or two of low or no usage, due to the feeling of not getting enough value out of it.

Imagine being able to reduce those cancellations at little or no cost to the bottom line, and turning it into positive PR.

kalium-xyz said 13 days ago:

Perhaps to eliminate old accounts that have the discounted subscriptions?

cmckn said 13 days ago:

This is where my mind went too. I don't think Netflix has generally grandfathered-in pricing, my bill has always gone up when their advertised price does. If there are some folks who are getting a year or so of promo pricing, I don't see how cancelling their accounts is advantageous.

kalium-xyz said 13 days ago:

My family is sharing an account with grandfathered pricing. Edit: seems like they ungranfathered everyone recently

MindTooth said 13 days ago:

LPT: each year order a new card.

Been doing this for many years. If something that unexpectedly gets charged, I know right away or I just goes away. This way I have to some degree regained control.

woutr_be said 13 days ago:

I wanted to do this as well, but it honestly takes so much time to change payment details on a lot of services. All my utilities for example are on auto payment through my credit card, I need to go to a physical store to change that. It's one of the reasons I haven't cancelled one of my credit cards, even though I haven't used it in years.

IshKebab said 13 days ago:

Or get a card that has a decent mobile app that instantly tells you about charges.

wrycoder said 13 days ago:

I have a DVD and a streaming subscription. I use the DVD fairly often, but the streaming rarely. There’s very little I want to watch available on streaming. I really should cancel.

INTPenis said 13 days ago:

Misleading title. Here I thought I could be charged by the hour. That would actually make me get netflix, finally.

But I don't think it's worth 5 euro or 11 euro a month because I only enjoy a very small portion of media.

So far it's easier to pirate.

And I'm far too used to the situation where a friend wants to put something on from netflix and it's not available. What's the point of paying 11 euro a month when you're restricted to such a small library?

chki said 13 days ago:

How do you deal with the fact that pirating is not sustainable? Expecially right now when cinemas aren't even open, how can films be made if nobody's paying?

Broken_Hippo said 13 days ago:

You somehow think that not pirating would translate into paid movie/TV show watching? IIRC, pirating actually means more folks watch the shows - which translates into folks talking about the shows (Free advertising). Besides, lots of folks subscribe to one streaming service (like Netflix) and pirate the things that aren't available.

If Netflix (and the producers of shows and films) want folks to watch, they need to improve. One could start by removing geographic restrictions and merely cull their library for legal reasons (X topic is restricted in X country: Y topic is only available after 8pm).

Also, Netflix doesn't rely on cinemas for its films. The other production companies can follow suit if they decide they want to. The companies can find ways to finance things and reduce piracy, but so far... nope. They are still dragging their feet.

renewiltord said 13 days ago:

Because you can just freeload, my dude. That's the real answer. Otherwise you can just make the usual arguments about exposure that make it to /r/ChoosingBeggars.

INTPenis said 13 days ago:

No answer I give will satisfy you morally. I've been pirating since tapes on C64 in the 80s so I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree as they say.

bergstromm466 said 13 days ago:

I think all media serves as 'covert' propaganda, for a certain way of thinking. [1] Westerners sell the American dream and the American consumerist way of life. If we all lived the way Americans do todat, we would need another one to two planet earth's.

> pirating is not sustainable

Please stop shaming people for not being as rich as you. For not having 'disposable' income and have money for 'entertainment'. Have you seen the state of the world? [2] It's honestly not as fair as you make it out to be, it's not sustainable for Hollywood to keep getting the kind of power it currently has to tell stories. [3] In my eyes Westeners are so psychopathic and culturally grandiose to believe that their systems are just and fair. They are all too happy to cecede control to the corporatocracy, their (perceived) benevolent overlords.

I believe what is not sustainable is intellectual property rights used by rentier capitalists to extract parasitic rents:

"Whether we are streaming content or licensing software, we are paying for the privilege of slowly ceding control of private property to corporate gatekeepers." [4]

[1] https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/16/the-history-of-holly... and https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/20/hollywoods-imperial-...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btF6nKHo2i0

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5xfBtD6rLY

[4] http://archive.is/y0lQf / https://onezero.medium.com/landlord-2-0-techs-new-rentier-ca...

rob74 said 13 days ago:

Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #188: "A fool and his money are the best customer". Kudos to Netflix for doing this, but I can entirely understand that they are the exception rather than the rule here. After all, if people don't care about a sum of money they pay monthly without getting anything for it, the only reasonable explanation is that they earn more than enough, so they can probably afford to continue paying it...

trashburger said 13 days ago:

Wouldn't a better model be to not charge the user for that month if they haven't watched anything? So you would only pay for months where you actually watched things on Netflix, and you wouldn't find that your account was suddenly deleted.

Also, maybe the title should be "Netflix will delete the accounts of customers who never watch", because that describes what Netflix will be doing more accurately.

lacerrr said 13 days ago:

They will be keeping the account data, so you don't need to start from scratch if you sign up again. It's more of an account freeze/deactivation than a deletion.

ASVVVAD said 13 days ago:

Those are most likely accounts made for the free 30-day trial They're very common and they're given away to on social media sites etc.

Hamuko said 13 days ago:

I cancelled my Netflix account after almost never watching it and now they keep sending me emails to reactivate my subscription for the low low price of 7.99 euro a month. For some reason they think that I want to come back to Netflix to watch shows at standard definition since for 7.99 you can't even get 720p, even though when I was subscribed, I had the 4K plan.

foepys said 13 days ago:

That's just to reel you in. You might think that they discounted their UHD offering for you. So you check and Netflix got their email engagement click.

Hamuko said 13 days ago:

>You might think that they discounted their UHD offering for you.

Yeah, that's what I assumed when I opened the email. Rather scummy in my opinion.

mrharrison said 13 days ago:

I remember during the last recession (2008) everyone I knew was going through their credit card statements and removing subscriptions/unneeded charges from their bills. It makes me think that Netflix has the foresight to see this next recession as quite bad and create some good press and become the good guy. Who wants to cancel the good guy??

wuxb said 13 days ago:

I'm so eager to know how will people start to think of some bundled call phone plans such as a T-Mobile's family plan that I used for a couple of years. The Netflix subscription is offered "for free" with a "1? dollar value" but of course there is no refund if I don't watch it. Oh wait that's how mobile plan always worked.

djhworld said 13 days ago:

I subscribed to the NYT crossword app at some point in the past as I used to enjoy doing the puzzle on my commute, but I don't know how to unsubscribe now that I'm working remote.

I'm from the UK and pay the sub via Paypal, it's only £4 a month. I'm half tempted to just cancel the payment on Paypal and hope they don't sue me? Can they?

TheSpiceIsLife said 13 days ago:

My understanding was that the correct way to cancel subscriptions payed with PayPal is via the PayPal website.

I recall one service pointed me to PayPal to cancel a subscription, and that’s how I’ve managed them since.

Edit: spelling

djhworld said 13 days ago:

Ah, ok thanks.

Well, I've just cancelled it. No turning back now!

NicoJuicy said 13 days ago:

Just cancel it on PayPal, if there is no easy way out.

Cancelling the payment is the same as cancelling the subscription.

solarkraft said 13 days ago:

Reading this I kept thinking "What? What? Why would you do this?!"

Less than half a percent isn't that much relatively, but those are still many millions.

It'd be hard to convince me that they did it because they're nice, they have share holders who are not interested in that stuff.

So what could have pressured them to do this? Regulation?

bergstromm466 said 13 days ago:

> It'd be hard to convince me that they did it because they're nice, they have share holders who are not interested in that stuff.

100%. It might have something to do with wanting more clear/precise analytics numbers. Non-active members might weigh down certain metrics in some way, so removing these members likely allows for 'fuller' analytics/measurements, which is important to their core business. Netflix is now also a very active producer of content itself, instead of it's previous business model of licensing/'renting out' others' content, so clearer and probably higher engagement metrics (once non-active memberships are removed) helps one of it's core competences.

It's purely a business move. Their blog post is PR.

destory-everyth said 13 days ago:

This reminded me to cancel my cable subscription, I only had it for the EPL and F1 and they did not make any concessions for the fact they are not playing live sports. I also put my mobile plan to cheapest possible because where I am (Singapore) I can't really leave my place for past 2 months

kartickv said 9 days ago:

I think this would be a good thing to try -- hopefully it will remove one barrier to subscription the fear that you'll be paying every month whether you use it or not.

nodesocket said 13 days ago:

If you don't follow you finances and continue to pay Netflix for a year of service without use, I personally don't think they have any obligation to cancel your account. As somebody who has run SaaS services and seen countless baseless e-mails (even worse chargebacks) come in from users who "forgot" to cancel service and then were irate about it, this doesn't help the customer "entitlement" problem I see. Let me explain what I mean in terms of customer "entitlement". A few of my friends will go out of their way to call and complain to companies for mistakes they themselve make, demanding refunds, discounts, reward points, and often they get compensation. As a business owner, this sort of behavior really infuriates me. These types of users are taking advantage of situations because of their own failing, and thus are now blaming the companies expecting something in return.

jpalomaki said 13 days ago:

Maybe this is why it makes financially sense to automatically cancel forgotten accounts at some point.

You would avoid some of the support costs, some chargeback costs and cost with negative publicity (people complaining about ”fraudulent” charges on social media).

On large enough scale you can likely do some calculations and eventually A/B testing to figure out what does this mean financially.

madballster said 13 days ago:

That is shocking. In my experience, well over 20% of all revenues of an online subscription service can come from stale users who keeping paying but never login anymore. They're gold to the bottom line.

notadog said 13 days ago:

For Netflix though, it applies to less than half a percent of their subscribers.

WalterBright said 13 days ago:

A reasonable strategy would be to stop charging customers who haven't watched in a while, but leave them enrolled as subscribers. If they start watching again, start charging again.

ec109685 said 13 days ago:

Netflix keeps all your preferences and history, so the account can be reactivated without losing anything.

tzs said 13 days ago:

I wonder if it is different if you were never a paying user? I did the free trial in February 2019 and then cancelled. If I try to login now, it starts going through the whole set up a free trial for a new user process, with no indication that it recognizes my account.

In fact, if I try to login with the email address I used for the trial and any random thing for the password, it goes to the new user trial setup.

If I hit thee "need help" link on the sign in screen and try to initiate a password reset, it tells me there is no account for my email address.

gnicholas said 13 days ago:

Only for a few months. After that it’s gone forever.

WalterBright said 13 days ago:

Sure, but my proposal makes it frictionless for the customer.

X6S1x6Okd1st said 13 days ago:

Given there is no cancellation nor sign up fee for Netflix I just cancel it every time that I sign up, so I buy a month of access instead of keeping a live subscription

xyst said 12 days ago:

Typically companies want to keep these dormant accounts because it’s literally free money. It’s nice to know that Netflix isn’t a parasite.

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
sahoo said 13 days ago:

You can always ask your credit card provider to send you a replacement card or the charges move to the replacement card

kerng said 13 days ago:

I wish 24 hour fitness would do the same. They keep charging me even though I called them multiple times to cancel.

krick said 13 days ago:

That's great, but why would they do this? I don't understand. Is it just a seemingly costly PR-capmaign?

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
foobar_ said 13 days ago:

This is absolutely ridiculous. As a profitable company the duty of the company is to make money for the share holders and board members. The customer is a dumb expendable resource to be exploited. Netflix stock price is down because of this. Not only should Netflix not do this, it should charge pregnant women extra because they are watching with an extra person /s

mvkel said 12 days ago:

Is this for accounting purposes? They can’t recognize the revenue without it being used?

holstvoogd said 13 days ago:

Already getting netflix phising mails regarding it hehe

29athrowaway said 13 days ago:

What happens with your subscriptions when you die?

londons_explore said 13 days ago:

A few scummy companies put huuuge termination fees in the case of a customer's death. In one case it was equivalent to 100 years service for a phone setup my grandfather had!

In most cases I bet they get paid - usually whoever is overseeing a loved ones estate really doesn't want to be going to court etc.

rosstex said 13 days ago:

This sounds insane, do you have some examples?

Tempest1981 said 13 days ago:

So if his setup was $10/mo, the termination fee was $12,000?

londons_explore said 13 days ago:

It was a $3 per month business VoIP phone number redirecting service, and the termination fee was $3000 if you didn't use the correct termination procedure, which involved knowing a password in a web form only my grandfather knew, or passing a 'my password is my voice' phone login. They also allowed termination by a letter to their HQ, with a $3k fee. I think the fee was more of a "we can only offer low prices if everything is automated, so we charge a stupidly high fee for anything we can't automate".

I don't want to name the company, because the dispute is still ongoing.

wccrawford said 13 days ago:

On the other hand, if you lose the dispute, you should absolutely post about it here and let everyone know.

organsnyder said 13 days ago:

Typically your credit cards are cancelled.

artificial said 13 days ago:

If you ever feel like someone doesn't care, just stop paying your bills. *typo fixed

stormdennis said 13 days ago:

It's a worry all right!

said 13 days ago:
[deleted]
Havoc said 12 days ago:

Refreshingly reasonable stance

alkonaut said 13 days ago:

Imagine if gyms did this.

notadog said 13 days ago:

The difference between Netflix doing this and gyms doing this is gyms rely heavily on people who join and don't go (even specifically targeting that audience), while for Netflix it is less than half a percent of their users.

If anyone is interesting in learning more about the economics and psychology of gym memberships, I highly recommend Episode 590: The Planet Money Workout of the NPR podcast Planet Money.

bergstromm466 said 13 days ago:

Wow I love atruistic corps. So lovely to see this. [read with a sarcastic Ricky Gervais voice] [1]

[1] https://youtu.be/korFaq7ZxVw?t=1020

alanlovestea said 13 days ago:

Be careful, exactly 10 years after I cancelled my Netflix, Netflix started to charge my card again. I contacted Netflix, but they cannot did anything about it. I ended up having my card issuer to issue a new account number to me.

jonathanlydall said 13 days ago:

The most likely explanation is that your credit card details were compromised and someone was using them for “free Netflix”.