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Have you signed up to get something sent to your home regularly? Has a company offered you a “free trial”? Or maybe you have a membership or subscription that bills your credit card automatically. Those can be convenient set-it-and-forget-it ways to get the products you want. But what’s your experience been when you tried to cancel? The FTC wants to hear your story.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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James H White
May 07, 2023

Keep em coming
Thank you.

Atef Hafez
May 07, 2023

In the past, frequently got the same problems. Now, decide No More Free Trials. Wish you good luck.

Tom Calarco
May 11, 2023

I called in to make a complaint, and it was a veritable NIGHTMARE.

The phone system couldn't even apply the correct digits which I did type in correctly. I even used a second phone to verify it was my phone but your system.

Can you please get to together. You could start by hiring some people to work for you instead of relying on a dumb digital system.

Please, if you really want to serve the public, you have some serious issues to fix.

Veronica M Baker
May 07, 2023

Google and the streaming services (such Roku, Peacock, etc) are the worst of the worst. There's seems no way to cancel the subscriptions online, and when you call a phone number that you get lucky enough to find on its website, you are referred back to the website.

Please help !!!

ROBERT E THIELE
May 08, 2023

Stsying informed

Ginny Tomaloff
May 08, 2023

Sometimes when you try to unsubscribe to an email that you didn't subscribe to you hit the unsubscribe and you get an email that says something to effect it was malware and it doesn't send it.

Cindy Rieger
May 07, 2023

The worst experience was with Sam's Discount Store (Walmart). I could not get my membership canceled. They kept billing me for the yearly subscription for about a year after I told them to cancel. I called, I wrote letters, I went into the local store and it was still months before they stopped trying to get me to pay for the yearly subscription I no longer wanted.

Susana Zurheide
May 07, 2023

I had a very bad experience with Ma”elys products. It’s a really fantasmee company. I need to change my credit card because they charge me a lot of money
I call and the tel it’s not working and I send a lot of emails and nothing happen.

Carol Byram
May 07, 2023

Tried to cancel Amazon Prime trial s few days before it ended. I clicked cancel and it threw up one “are you sure” window after another until I thought it was over and done. It wasn’t. They charged my bank account costing me $60 in overdraft fees.

excellentshyguy
May 07, 2023

Recently I subscribed to a major newspaper for a nominal amount covering six months. After this period my credit card would be charge the regular rate at the time. However the recharge was made more than 30 days prior to my subscription termination date which is contrary to terms of agreement. I contacted the newspaper's customer service department which is manned by foreign representatives. Trying to speak with someone stateside is practically impossible. After a couple of contacts with the newspaper and filing a dispute with my bank I was able to get a refund of the improper charges.

Comply1
May 07, 2023

Hopefully on the radar is the company offering ka'chava (a protein drink). The BBB and Trust Pilot complaints are surely just a fraction of the complaints out there. Apparently there is a large # of purchasers who are put on a subscription they never requested and subscribers cannot get help to get off the subscription list. Shameful business out of Nevada.

Christy Lane
May 07, 2023

I ordered a product to try for 30 days. They sent me not one, but TWO and charged me for both of them AND a subscription. (I never sign up for subscriptions). The worse part about it was when I received the product (2 jars for removing moles), there were no instructions and no receipt to find out who I could call.

Ricardo Gaspard
May 07, 2023

Yes I had experience when you try to cancel it becomes an 'hardship lagging event".
My other painful experience was in August 2020 when I was a victim twice 1. By a scam ransom of more than 20,000 2. And the bank failed to cancel and investigate the transfer.
Ransom was reported to FTC and the Federal Consumer Bureau and no subsequent follow up investigative report by both entities.

Hector Rodriguez
May 07, 2023

No haven't sign for nothing.

Bill Curran
May 07, 2023

I recently tried to cancel a product from Apple which had a thee day free trial. On the first free day, I decided to cancel. Canceling was confusing and frustrating and took about a half hour.

Amy
May 07, 2023

I am in the card department at a small bank and we get numerous disputes on these transactions. Customers tell us they tried to call, and the phone number is no good or they email and get no response. The terms and conditions of "free trials" need to have a warning attached them. Prechecked boxed that sign them up for other services they had no idea about. Something must be done. Thank you!

Garland M Lundry
May 07, 2023

Dont fall into the subscribe free trial cancel anytime trap! Straight up fraudulent corporate greed! CEOs heads should roll! And BIG fines!

Michael Dietz
May 07, 2023

I had a I-Pad with Verizon and wanted to stop the service for it. I then fount out that anything that I wanted to add to my account could be done on line. If I wanted to cancel a service I had to call a certain number, go through the whole list of what number to press to get the area that I wanted, be put on hold for 37 minutes and then and only then get to talk to a real person that wanted to know 100 things about why I wanted to cancel. Only after another 15 minutes was I able to cancel my I-Pad. I would think that if I can add something to my account online I should be able to cancel something from my account online.

Phoebe Black
May 07, 2023

Most of the time I got the run-around, it seems to take an act of Congress to cancel, if the company uses the website to cancel, they make it very hard to find and that can be very frustrating, especially for old adults, they made it that way so you will give up, and will not cancel, or calling in to cancel you will usually get a voice mail saying they will get back to you, and they never do. The whole process can be daunting and frustrating because the company wants to keep billing you.

Lynette A Aoki
May 07, 2023

I definitely don’t want to cancel.
Find articles very informative.

Susan S
May 07, 2023

A couple of times when I have tried to cancel a free trial they try to talk me out of cancelling by offering a discount or say I am automatically billed since I didn't cancel within the specified time frame. Classic example - Hello Fresh - charged for meals that we didn't order and wouldn't refund our money. So I simply sent them a strong email in caps informing them that if my membership wasn't cancelled immediately I would be filing a complaint with the FTC, BBB and CFPB. I was very angry with Hello Fresh.

Mark Bailey
May 07, 2023

As a result of trying products offered by companies that have automatic payments and automatic renewals, I have found that the process of cancelation has been made much more difficult than the purchase of these products or services by these companies.
Yes I support your establishment of rules or procedures that make it easier to understand the cancelation process.

Dale Danell
May 07, 2023

"Click to Cancel", "stop" and "Unsubscribe" seem to carry some risk of acknowledgeing to the sender that your email/phone number "is a live one"?? As such, that bit of information seems to have triggered more unsolicited spam, after having been sold elsewhere?? I am currently suspicious of a model railroad interst connected to some kind of health gimmick....

Hector Rodriguez
May 07, 2023

No. I haven't sign nothing

Theresa Kay Cuevas
May 07, 2023

i have had to call, then told call back because I have remaining day on the subscription. I refuse to do so, I cancel on the original phone call.

Patricia Sterling
May 07, 2023

I have had trouble with cancelations on more than one occasion. It usually starts with a trial that I wasn’t aware I had agreed to then once realized it would take several attempts with various methods of contact to actually get it cancelled. Sometimes the recurring charges would continue for several months as if there had been no contact and I would Ave to ask my bank to refuse payment.

Michael Wilder
May 07, 2023

I enjoy the very informative articles that are sent to my email. Please continue to do so.

Eva
May 07, 2023

I had ordered from an online website some facial moisturizer from a company that claimed to be affiliated with a TV doctor. I should've checked that first, but the website had picture of her and information about her TV appearances on shows to sell her product. I'd had the product for a few days and discovered a large charge from the company on my bank statement. I called to cancel and was told that I had purchased a 10-day trial and afterwards was being charged for a monthly subscription. I informed the person that I was not aware of that and wanted to cancel it. I was told that I needed to return the unused product in order to receive a refund. To me, it meant that I'd received nothing for the money I spent for the sample jars and would need to pay for the return as well. Instead, I contacted my bank to inform them of the issue and that the company I purchased the product from was not the one billing me and about my cancellation request. The bank refunded me the charge and investigated. I didn't return the product because now I didn't trust this company and my bank closed their investigation. I will NEVER do something like this again.

Jerome R Schindler
May 07, 2023

I got a "free" 90 day subscription to Apple TV. Redeemed it - but never actually used it, but that is irrelevant. I could have. When I went to cancel on their website the cancel feature would not work. Tried several times. They couldn't bill my cc as the one I gave them had expired. I just ignored their reminders to pay. After a few months of their nagging they finally went away. These auto renewals are obviously intended to snare people - they should be required to notify by mail or email with no response counting as a "no".

Kim Moore
May 07, 2023

I signed up for a service to retain the activity picked up by the Ring doorbell security camera. Ring automatically charged my credit card annually for this service. Once the device stopped working after the second year, I contacted Ring to cancel the service. I gave them my email address and the customer service agent said he could not locate my account with that email address. He said call credit card company and dispute charge, there was nothing he could do. It's the only email address that I've had or used for over 10 years. So, every year I need to contact my credit card company and dispute the charge. I find it hard to believe Ring can not locate my account by any other means than the email address. They certainly have no problem finding my account every year to bill me!!! No reasonable explanation from Ring.

Laurence Brody
May 07, 2023

INSTACART.ORDERED THROUGH COSTCO A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO.
$ 40.00 about was not filled they would not give me refund, I had to use it up with them. I never want to do any business with them, but they kept my money and there was no notice of that procedure. Can I get w refund without spending with them?

William Geis
May 07, 2023

It would be helpful for the FTC to establish minimum standards for recurring payments. 1. The ability to find the cancelation option on a company's web site (even Amazon makes it difficult to get to) 2. Set standards for notification of renewal, no company should be able to auto renew without a 90, 60, & 30 day reminder with a link to cancel. 3. Require a verified email contact to auto renew, a reconfirmed email with the last 90 day. 4. A link to cancelation should be included in every communication.
Thank you Bill

Sunny Elangovan
May 19, 2023

In reply to by William Geis

I agree! This would be a brilliant idea. There needs to be stricter rules for these “memberships”. Especially when they don’t make it known that you’re signing up.

I had a coin company (Bradford Exchange) that I believe was a scam sign me up without my approval or knowledge for a series of coins at $60 or so per coin and there were like 15 coins in the series! I had purchased one single coin for a present for someone. I called the company and they promised to send me a return label to my home address. They never did.

carole
May 07, 2023

Amazon - I have a subscription for a monthly crave box sent to my grandson in college. I try to cancel for summer months but I can't. It makes me cancel every month, if I forget, it gets sent & I get charged.

David sloan
May 07, 2023

Tried to cancel my mothers cable service after she passed away they would not do it u less I gave them a death certificate ,had to threaten suit with a lawyer for them to do it.

Sharon Gee
May 07, 2023

Hello,

My experience has been one of two scenarios:
1. I don't recall agreeing to a 'Free' trial at all and am unaware that I did but then get billed without being notified by the company prior to being billed that my 'Free trial' has expired or
2. I agree to a trial period but then never get notified when the trial is about to end (and typically, I have forgotten all about it and am upset when my bill increases substantially).

It is generally a real hassle to get them to remove the charges and sometimes they will only remove a partial charge. DISH did this to me recently but they did finally agree to remove/credit back all charges.

Natalia Huerta
May 07, 2023

Amazon seems to be the worst as they tell you that it's been canceled and a few months pass by and then you start getting billed again and again!

DS
May 07, 2023

Yes, I support expanding the existing rule to make it easier for people to cancel deliveries and/or subscriptions. There are a lot of companies that deliberately make it difficult to do so. Thank you!

William Johnson
May 07, 2023

Even though you may have signed up for automatic renewal, a not should be sent out to you that a account is to be renewed along with the cost. Also a consumer should not be forced to do an automatic renewal,

Marissa C.
May 07, 2023

Most free trial subscriptions through Apple are easy to cancel, assuming you remember to do it in time. I’ve found this to be true of most automatic subscriptions, actually. Even PayPal has made it easier to shut off the autopay option. If a company has charged me before I get a chance to cancel, they’re usually good about refunding me as well. I’ve only found this to be hard in cases of internet TV subscriptions, like HULU. I think having official rules to help the consumer would be a good thing regardless.

Robert T Quail
May 07, 2023

I have not had any difficulty in canceling a auto pay . However, my dealings have been with familiar companies, which I had previously dealt with on a pay as you go basis.
Some were easier than others. A one click link or phone call. The main concern were those that did not send a pre-billing notice, the only notice came from the credit card company notifying me of the charge. Finance news letters seem to be the most abusive. I think using auto pay should still require
an approval prior of the charge with a link for immediate cancellation included in the notice.

Andrew Johnson
May 07, 2023

I’m in Canada, but many of the sites / subscriptions are US based. I find that many sites do not provide a straightforward way to delete accounts, often requiring direct contact with the organization and often even that does not make the subscription end.

In some cases I have just changed my email address to an iCloud “Hide my Email” address which provides a temporary address linked to my actual email, changing all my personal details on the subscription account, and then deleting the temporary link to my email. It works, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Maziar Bouyeh
May 07, 2023

Houston Chronicle offered me a trial subscription for 99 cents.
The subscription was renewed ten days before the expiration date without my permission for another month. So, I was charged a whole month ten days before my subscription expired.
When I called them on April 27, I was told my sub was renewed on April 26. So, it's against their policy to cancel it now. I am obligated to pay for the whole new month of subscription now, about $25. Whether I cancel or not.
So, I had to get my credit company's help to deny the charge. It was a long process, and I had to cancel my debit card and wait ten days for a replacement.

Andrew Johnson
May 07, 2023

I’m in Canada, but many of the sites / subscriptions are US based. I find that many sites do not provide a straightforward way to delete accounts, often requiring direct contact with the organization and often even that does not make the subscription end.

In some cases I have just changed my email address to an iCloud “Hide my Email” address which provides a temporary address linked to my actual email, changing all my personal details on the subscription account, and then deleting the temporary link to my email. It works, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Terry S. Johnson
May 07, 2023

The only place I have never had a problem is with Amazon orders.
I have tried ordering from other ads on my phone or PC and some have never arrived. I try to get credits on my credit cards and sometimes that does work.

Charlotte Manly
May 07, 2023

I've run into multiple issues with convenience of cancelling after signing up online.

Birchbox required me to email them. (This is a subscription service that sends products to my home.) To find out the email (and the means of cancelling), I had to email support. They did respond quickly.

My local newspaper requires me to call them. Doing so involves listening to an upselling pitch first. They have a mix of technology (and their websites aren't very slick), which means that when they want to notify me of a rate increase, they do so by USPS mail. I have not actually cancelled, only reduced my plan but this also involved a phone call.

Wild Divine/Unyte has gone through multiple iterations of ownership. I think I signed up when they were Unyte. Again, when I decided to cancel (after they had spun off that product to Wild Divine), I had to email them. This was not too hard but I don't remember why, possibly because I knew when they spun off that I might cancel before my subscription renewal.

Pluralsight lets you cancel online. BUT, it is hard to find the Cancel button, because it is not a button, just a link in red text. As a technology company, they know better, and this is an example of dark UX (user experience), i.e., deliberately frustrating users' attempts to accomplish a task by violating common expectations of how websites work. In addition, although Pluralsight lets you change to a higher tier plan online, it does not let you change to a lower tier. Instead, you have to cancel and then resubscribe.

In my opinion, best practices should be:
1. If a service includes an online account or registration, it should be possible to change tiers (if there are multiple tiers) or cancel online, regardless of whether this is how the subscriber signed up. (I should not have to remember whether I called my cable company to subscribe or did it online, for example.)
2. It should be easy to find out how to cancel, e.g., under Account preferences or a subheading such as Plans or Pricing, and the UX should not bias the user away from cancelling. It is acceptable to require confirmation that the user intends to cancel. The same requirements apply to changing price tiers, which should be possible both up and down.
3. It should not be necessary to listen to a sales pitch in order to cancel.
4. There should be help or an FAQ and/or support contact info for users who haven't figured out how to cancel on their own. This is not necessarily a disadvantage for the company. I hesitate to subscribe to something (or try it) if it may be too hard to unsubscribe.
5. For subscriptions billed less often than monthly, I should be notified by email in advance of my subscription renewal with a reasonable lead time and any price change should be communicated by then as well. Expirations of special pricing (such as cable subscription bundles) should be communicated in advance as well.

In short, consumers should be able to make the same price/value evaluation while they are a subscriber as they did when they started paying for a subscription.

Akshay Patel
May 07, 2023

Had xfinity previously called Comcast cable. This year they raised my bill by +/- $30.00.
I had to cancel so unfortunately you cannot request cancellation online, upgrade, service changes - yes. So I had to physically go to the nearest facility to close the account and return the gadgets.

CJ Rosenberger
May 07, 2023

I had a similar experience with NY Times, about 3 years ago. At that time, NY Times did not notify subscribers of an expiring subscription. I honestly can't remember what was charged to my credit card, however, it was significantly more than my first year subscription. When I called to with customer service, the agent told me I should have read the fine print, in the agreement I electronically signed.
I called my credit card company, explained the situation and they did a 'charge back', so in the end I wasn't charged. I will never again subscribe to the NY Times.
CJ Rosenberger

Molly Maynard
May 07, 2023

I have had numerous time-consuming and frustrating experiences trying to cancel auto-renewing subscriptions. A recent one was trying to cancel a CVS ExtraCare membership, which could only be done over the phone (as of last year).

Far and away, however, are the challenges of trying to cancel subscriptions for a loved one with dementia. We have poa and manage her limited finances, and it has been very difficult trying to cancel auto renewals when she has no idea what she's even subscribed to. She had re-occuring charges from McAfee and GoogleText, for example, and hasn't owned a computer in at least five years.