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Just Cancel the @#%$* Account! 483

Posted by Zonk
from the patience-grasshopper dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PC World Senior Editor Tom Spring signed up for 32 online accounts. Then tried to cancel all of them. The most difficult to cancel: NetZero. The easiest to cancel: Consumer Reports Online and The New York Times TimesSelect. His experience was rated on a number of criteria, and highlights the hoops that commercial enterprises put in place to keep their 'customers'. From the article: 'I had a hard time canceling my $5 monthly Gold Classmates.com account, too. I couldn't find any information on how to cancel until I entered the word cancel In the site's search engine. Classmates.com spokesperson John Uppendahl confirmed that there is no other way to find cancellation information. But that was only the first hoop I had to jump through to cancel my membership. Classmates.com also forced me to click through several Web pages reminding me of the benefits I'd lose. Finally my clicking ended at a generic Member Support e-mail contact page containing a blank 'Your Question' field. Though the form said nothing about cancellations, I used it to request that the service cancel my subscription. The next day I received an e-mail message confirming that the service had accepted my request.'"
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Just Cancel the @#%$* Account!

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  • by holdenholden (961300) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:13AM (#17495450)

    This is precisely why I use virtual CC numbers. My bank (MBNA, now bought by B of A) allows me to set a limit on the amount of money that can be used, and the expiration date is usually two months in the future. A few companies (most recently Time Magazine) have tried the old trick "Submit a new card number to ensure uninterrupted service", but the truth is, they know that as long as they have a valid CC number they are in a much stronger position.

    On a different thread, I personally found Paypal to be the hardest to cancel. The link is buried deep in the Options menu, good luck finding it, aunt Mary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      On a different thread, I personally found Paypal to be the hardest to cancel. The link is buried deep in the Options menu, good luck finding it, aunt Mary.

      I just went to Paypal.com, logged into my account, and clicked on the "Profile" link. At the bottom of the "Account Information" window there is a link for "Close Account". From there it asked for the checking/credit card numbers linked to my account for verification. I didn't actually go through that process, because I don't want to cancel my account,
    • by fishdan (569872) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:51AM (#17495676) Homepage Journal
      Let me advise you that this is not as good a defense as you think. I did the same thing, and a company that I tried to quit from sent the "debt" (that I did not renew and tried to cancel) into collection, which to this day shows up on my credit record. I don't know if what they did is legal, but I can tell you it's been a huge pain in my ass to try to get this cleared up.

      They say "you knowingly signed up and agreed to XYZ unless you canceled, so just because your credit card has expired, doesn't mean you don't owe us." And when you put it that way, I think they're right.

      At least legally.
      • by Leebert (1694) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:06AM (#17495758)
        I did the same thing, and a company that I tried to quit from sent the "debt" (that I did not renew and tried to cancel) into collection, which to this day shows up on my credit record.


        Order a free copy of your credit report from the Big Three (you can do it easily from http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ [annualcreditreport.com]). When you receive the three reports, dispute the debt on each of them following the procedures outlined in the credit report.

        The company reporting the negative information is then required to submit supporting documentation, which often doesn't happen.

        Sounds like you may have already tried this, but if not, it's not too time-consuming.
        • by theskipper (461997) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @09:03AM (#17497236)
          I'd like to add that the link is not "www.freecreditreport.com". Experian has been advertising this link on TV so people think of it before the correct one: http://www.annualcreditreport.com./ [www.annual...report.com]

          For example, in the past year two relatives called and asked me why are the reports $39.95 when it's supposed to be free ("freecreditreport" was burned into their brains). I had to point out the blue on blue text that looks like legalese on the left side. They totally missed it.

          Can't blame Experian for trying to hijack the process, but it's scummy enough where folks like us just need to spread the "correct" link.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dachannien (617929)
            Also, if you forget which is the right one, you can visit the FTC's website at http://www.ftc.gov/ [ftc.gov] and navigate to "For Consumers" -> "Credit".
        • by rabel (531545)
          Also, since it is the new year, it's a good time to go ahead and request your annual free credit report from all three major credit reporting services. Even if you don't have any reason to dispute any debts on your report, go ahead and get it each year to stay on top of your credit report. It's free for you once per year, so you may as well. You can save the HTML report so you'll have it handy all year long. It's a good idea to review your report each year to make sure there aren't any mistakes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Order a free copy of your credit report from the Big Three (you can do it easily from http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ [annualcreditreport.com]). When you receive the three reports, dispute the debt on each of them following the procedures outlined in the credit report.

          The company reporting the negative information is then required to submit supporting documentation, which often doesn't happen.

          Sounds like you may have already tried this, but if not, it's not too time-consuming.

          This happened to me. I tried to open a checking

      • by nxtw (866177)
        This won't happen if you don't give companies enough information to touch your credit report.

        Anyone have any ideas? How do companies match records in a credit report?
      • by technothrasher (689062) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @07:13AM (#17496772)
        Let me advise you that this is not as good a defense as you think. I did the same thing, and a company that I tried to quit from sent the "debt" (that I did not renew and tried to cancel) into collection

        This is not a bad outcome (assuming you're in the right and don't owe the debt). As soon as it goes to the collection agency, you can send them a letter asking for any and all evidence the collection agency has to back up their claim they have a valid debt so that you can begin your lawsuit against them. Once you do that, they are legally obligated to furnish you with the information within 30 days, and they are not allowed to touch your credit report until after the lawsuit is finished. Unless it's some huge debt, they'd waste more money trying to prove it then it's worth to them, and so they'll fail to respond within 30 days and you're all done, credit report intact.
         
        I've done this on several occasions after companies tried to bully my into paying a fraudulent debt. Works like a charm. They only annoying part is that it's the innocent collection agency who loses here, as they've already paid the original company for the debt. But I guess that's a buyer beware situation for them.
        • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig,hogger&gmail,com> on Sunday January 07, 2007 @08:50AM (#17497158) Journal
          They only annoying part is that it's the innocent collection agency who loses here, as they've already paid the original company for the debt. But I guess that's a buyer beware situation for them.
          Fuck them. They're in a shady business anyways, so if they can't stand the heat, they oughta get out of the kitchen.
          • by NormalVisual (565491) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @12:06PM (#17498320)
            Not only is it a shady business overall, the individuals involved are generally some of the most unethical people you'll meet. Your best bet when dealing with them (in the US, anyway) is to have a good grasp of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a recorder for your telephone, and an unwillingness to talk to them *at all* unless they agree to recording the conversations.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Just Some Guy (3352)

              and an unwillingness to talk to them *at all* unless they agree to recording the conversations.

              I've dealt with these blockheads when nonexistant accounts were turned over to collections, and to a toad, every one of them gave me explicit permission to record the phone calls by stating that "this call may be monitored for quality assurance". Since no one seems to remember the difference between "may" (which includes granting permission) and "might" (which is what they probably meant), record away!

      • by LordKronos (470910) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @11:22AM (#17498006) Homepage
        Let me advise you that this is not as good a defense as you think. I did the same thing, and a company that I tried to quit from sent the "debt" (that I did not renew and tried to cancel) into collection, which to this day shows up on my credit record. I don't know if what they did is legal, but I can tell you it's been a huge pain in my ass to try to get this cleared up.

        Read the following thread:
        http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/arcmessageview.php ?catid=52&threadid=154139 [fatwallet.com]

        And follow the link to the creditnet.com message board. That forum is VERY good at helping to get credit reports cleaned up. Getting invalid derogatory info off you credit report is usually a piece of cake, and if it is difficult they can tell you how to get a quick $1K out of the company that reported it (there are government regulations they have to follow, and if they don't you get free money). If the debt reported is valid, there is still a decent chance to get it removed (either because the company doesn't maintain proper documentation or fails to follow government mandated procedures for responding to complaints/inquiries).

  • NetZero... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:14AM (#17495456) Homepage
    I had a NetZero account some time ago, as a dial-up account to use when I traveled. (This was before all the hotels started offering wi-fi.) The funny thing is that I didn't cancel it, instead they canceled it on me... When my credit card number changed (twice), they only attempted to contact me via my NetZero email account - which of course I never looked at. The first time the card number changed I happened to discover it and fixed the problem, asking them to contact me at a different email if it happened again; the second time, I didn't notice and they never tried.
  • Vonage (Score:5, Funny)

    by dj245 (732906) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:15AM (#17495460) Homepage
    Article says Vonage is now a no-hassle cancelation.

    Back when I canceled my Vonage account some 2 years ago, it took a 2 hour hold time, plus mailing their hardware back at my expense to cancel.

    Plus now I get monthly "Come back to Vonage and save!" letters in the mail that I can use for kindling. I guess he hasn't gotten his first letter yet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kid Zero (4866)
      I'd just like to "Amen" this one. I tried for days to get a live human on the oh the phone, but never did. When they'd call me, wanting their money I'd cancelled payment on (my bank is nice...), I told them I wanted to return their router, but they wouldn't let me do that, either.

      I still have it.

  • And somehow Netzero was harder to cancel then that classmates.com ordeal? Grr, I might even have to click the link.
  • Irritating as hell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:19AM (#17495482)
    What makes these companies think that this will make them money?

    Whenever I encounter a situation like this (where cancelling is made a pain in the ass), I vow to never again use the service, and to tell anyone I know about what a crappy company it is.

    I have actually returned to companies that did not make my life difficult in this way. Sometimes, you just don't need the service. Maybe you will be a return customer. But when they do this crap, they piss people off. They ensure that you will NEVER return and that you will do everything you can to spread the word about what a worthless company they are.
    • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:29AM (#17495536) Homepage Journal
      What makes these companies think that this will make them money?

      Whenever I encounter a situation like this (where cancelling is made a pain in the ass), I vow to never again use the service, and to tell anyone I know about what a crappy company it is.

      It's just that when you're cancelling the service, chances are you're not interested in coming back. And even if you against the odds do, you're still a fickle customer, who have cost them extra work. Getting rid of you as painlessly as possible for them when you first cancel must be the first priority.

      --
      *Art
      • by ShinyBrowncoat (692095) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:59AM (#17495960) Homepage
        NetFlix is unbelievably easy to cancel, and to restart membership later. The ease of canceling actually played an important role in my later deciding to re-subscribe. You just don't see that kind of customer-comes-first attitude much these days.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        There used to be a saying along the lines of 'a happy customer will tell five people, an unhappy one will tell fifty.' In the age of the Internet, that number is a lot more; I've written articles about bad customer service that have had several thousand unique readers.

        If I cancel a service, it can be for any number of reasons. It might, for example, be that I am moving house, or going away for a while and will want a similar service when I get back. If it's hard for me to cancel, then when I want a sim

    • by OldManAndTheC++ (723450) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:04AM (#17495978)
      I call this the "Psycho Girlfriend" policy. The relationship is over, but she just can't let go. You try and try to put an end to it, but she keeps calling, telling you how good she is for you. Sometimes the only thing to do is to move to another state.

      Unfortunately, by the time a company realizes that acting like a jilted ex is bad for business, the guy who thought up the "Psycho Girlfriend" policy has already moved on to another company. Probably with a nice bonus, since all those unwilling customers were adding to the bottom line while his policy was in effect. And at his new job, when he explains his success to his new boss, it sounds like a great deal, and they too implement the policy, and he gets a raise. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      In fact, I think this might be an analog of the "single particle universe" theory, in which one particle zips back and forth through time, constituting all physical matter. In a similar fashion, this one goofball is jumping from company to company, making each one into Jennifer Jason Leigh in "SWF". If we could just find that guy and "cancel" him, the world would be a better place...
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:22AM (#17495506) Journal
    If me girlfriend wants to have sex, she strokes my cock 3 times. If she doesn't want to have sex, she strokes my cock 100 times.
  • Consumer Reports (Score:5, Interesting)

    by honkycat (249849) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:34AM (#17495568) Homepage Journal
    It's interesting that he mentions Consumer Reports as the easy to cancel. When I was buying a car a few years ago, I signed up with them to read reviews and advice. Their term was a year. After I bought my car (a month or two after I signed up), I canceled the account and was credited the pro-rated cost of the time I did not use. It was so easy and honest that I couldn't believe it was really going to work. After it was done, I felt a little bad for canceling service with a company that got something so right from a customer point of view, even when it costs them money.
  • When I went to cancel my Netflix service, they happily complied. After doing so, they conveniently "lost" all the discs that I had sent back to them. (So I discovered after getting the bill...)

    Of course, Netflix provided absolutely no customer service contact information. I believe there was a customer support web form, but that was only available to members with an active acount.
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:53AM (#17495682) Journal
    Apparently, they differentiate between cancellation, resignation, and suspension, so that they have a 66% chance of keeping your money. And if you ask your credit card company to stop charges, they can fine you $1000 It's all in the contract....

  • .Mac & iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:54AM (#17495688) Journal
    I signed up for the free .Mac trial when I got my Mac. While I didn't get charged anything when I didn't sign up, my .Mac account is still buried within Mac OS X and it pops up from time to time when attempting to configure stuff (iChat, Mail, etc.).

    iTunes is the more entertaining one. When I set up my iTunes account, it filled in my .Mac account. When I didn't renew it, I set up another iTunes account. So I have a bunch of songs purchased with one account and a bunch of songs purchased with another account. This sometimes confuses iTunes and a batch of songs are unplayable until I reauthorize my computer with one of the accounts.

    (This is why I laugh whenever some MacHead tells me about how they "buy" their music rather than "rent" it. Cancel your iTunes account and see what happens to those songs you "bought".)
    • Re:.Mac & iTunes (Score:5, Informative)

      by PygmySurfer (442860) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:13AM (#17495780)
      (This is why I laugh whenever some MacHead tells me about how they "buy" their music rather than "rent" it. Cancel your iTunes account and see what happens to those songs you "bought".)

      There's nothing to cancel, iTunes isn't a subscription service. All the songs you purchase are linked to a Apple ID, which doesn't expire.

      Also, you could've continued using the Apple ID created with your .mac account after you cancelled .mac - it continues functioning as an Apple ID. You can even change the email address associated with it, so while your Apple ID may be R3dM3rcury@mac.com, the email address associated with the account could be R3dMercury@fancydomain.org

      As for the ID being "buried" within OS X, try opening up the .Mac Preference Pane, and removing your old info.
      • There's nothing to cancel, iTunes isn't a subscription service. All the songs you purchase are linked to a Apple ID, which doesn't expire.

        What happens if you forget the important details like password and username/email address because your computer remembered them for you, and then your hard disk crashes? Is the info to re-access your "Apple ID" recoverable from the music files themselves?
        • by Josuah (26407)
          You need to backup your music files and also the "decryption" information. It's stored in the /Users/Shared directory, IIRC. You could, of course, always burn your purchased songs to a regular CD and never worry about any of this.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Angostura (703910)
          When you purchase music from the iTunes store, iTunes prompts you to back it up and asks you to insert a CD.
  • It literally took me 2 hours on the phone to cancel this service. And an hour and a half of that was actually talking to a real live person.

    Unbelievable. It probably cost the company $50 in salary, social security, benefits, and phone usage to delay me canceling the service, all for possibly me getting frustrated and waiting 1 more month to cancel the $10 service.

    I learned my lesson though. Next time I had to cancel an insurance policy, I simply told them "I've talked to you for 10 minutes. You have confirm
  • by Leebert (1694) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @02:55AM (#17495700)
    FTA:

    I also found a section of the TOS contract that read: "You also agree not to dispute any authorized charge by True.com or its authorized agents." And "if you fraudulent[ly] report that an authorized charge by True.com or its authorized agents is unauthorized, you shall be liable to True.com for liquidated damages of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per incident."


    Clearly no one is within their rights to dispute authorized charges. That's the whole point of a chargeback -- it's to charge back unauthorized charges.

    You can't sign away your right to dispute unauthorized charges. For example, VISA's Chargeback Guidelines [visa.com] (PDF) specifically address this:


    "No Chargeback" Sales Receipts
    Independent entrepreneurs have been selling sales-receipt stock bearing a statement near the signature area that the cardholder waives the right to charge the transaction back to the merchant. These receipts are being marketed to merchants with the claim that they can protect businesses against chargebacks; in fact, they do not. "No chargeback" sales receipts undermine the integrity of the Visa payment system and
    are prohibited.


    BTW, reading the VISA document above is well worth time. It's useful for those checkout line arguments you invariably find yourself in occasionally. (minimum charges, ID checks, etc.)
    • by darkonc (47285)
      If the service is properly authorized, then it's a bad idea to dispute the charge in any case. If, on the other hand, it's not authorized, then I agree that this clause doesn't do you any harm.

      Of course, if they want to ding me for this, then they're gonna have to go after me in court, because if they try TO (improperly) charge that $1000 to my credit card, I'm gonna dispute it bigtime.

      The main reason for having that clause is to scare people into not disputing unauthorized charges. In other words, If

  • I bet they'd get the Most Annoying One golden statue. There is no clear way to cancel on their site. Searching for Cancel in support brings up clever answer:
    To cancel TiVo service, contact Customer Support
    The "Contact Us"/Customer support page does not mention anything about where to call to cancel, just "Activation" and "Problems". I suppose inability to cancel online (activation is easy) is a problem. Calling them brings up morbid "voice activated system". Getting through it is not that bad, as it underst
  • Why not write a letter to your credit card company stating that you no longer authorize any charges from the vendor? If they make it that much of a PITA for you to cancel the service, make it a PITA for them with chargebacks.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:06AM (#17495754)
    Personally I just change my bank account once a month. Changing your address once a month helps with the other bills. If you are still having trouble with companies that won't stop billing you for cancelled services just change your name and social security number monthly. If all else fails changing the country you live in monthly is a sure fire cure to billing woes. What if you run out of countries? No problem there are new ones every year. Seems a lot of countries like to change their name too.
  • Cancelling Woes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FalleStar (847778)
    A few years back when I was hooked on Halo 2 I signed up for Xbox Live with one of those 3-month free cards you got with certain games. I didn't have a credit card at the time to register the account with so I called my parents and used their CC info. Towards the end of the 3 months I decided to cancel the account, so I called the customer service and they told me that the account would not renew once it had expired. I had even received a confirmation e-mail regarding the closure of the account, a few mo
  • efax sucks! (Score:5, Informative)

    by didiken (93521) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:12AM (#17495772) Homepage
    I asked my secretary to sign up an efax account a few days ago. They claim you can "try it for FREE in one month". And the stupid part, she puts down a credit card number there (It's free rigth?). So, they charged the credit card fraudulently the next day, even though it's supposed to be a god damn free trial. All right, so:
    1. We try to go to their site, looking for "cancel subscriptions". We search "cancel" and they have 2 links in their help page. But when I clicked on it, it shows nothing (both Firefox and IE 7)
    2. Then we try their web chat. First when I tell the web chat we are cancelling, they give me ANOTHER link for their support chat. Fine. AND THEN, when we try to use their chat, it's broken. It starts to sound fishy to me up to this point...
    3. We then try to call their support line. It takes forever just to go through the phone menus, and then we were put on hold for 20 minutes. Finally, a guy with distinctly Indian accent answered the call. He did not speak English that, I have to guesstimate what he said. I have to basically just keep saying "I just need to cancel my subscription, no thanks." repeatedly to get him stop repeat the scripted answers. Anyway... in the end this support guy said he'd give us a refund, but he'd put us on hold again to talk to the billing department. And finally he claimed the support department will refund us "in a few days". Oh yes, takes less than a day to charge the credit card, but a few days to refund...
    In the end we spent half an hour to deal with the cancellation. You are free to call their support line, and then see how much time to get to their billing "department". Here is more efax horror stories [typepad.com]. Don't ever try to use efax in your life time. You have been warned. How these companies manage to piss their customers is beyond me.
    • Re:efax sucks! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ariven (256118) <ariven AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 07, 2007 @10:35AM (#17497704) Homepage
      "Oh yes, takes less than a day to charge the credit card, but a few days to refund"

      no comment on efax... but... some companies (and the one I work for is one of them) trust the general customer service agent to charge your card but not to give money back.. because they dont want extra fraud going on by employees.. such as putting money back onto their own cards out of the company accounts...

      Its a hassle because then the companies typically only have one or a small number of people authorized to put money back on to a card and thats part of what delays the refund.
  • by paulius_g (808556) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:19AM (#17495802) Homepage
    I've dealt with very bad cancellation experiences in the past, myself. And this article surely proves that I'm not the only one having these problems. It's as if these companies and corporations don't have proper protocols or procedures for cancellation. Not being able to find information on cancelling a service on the provider's own website is totally pathetic. Or, having to call to cancel a service is also very sad in this age of computer technology.

    Sadly, I think that it will remain like this for a very long time. These corporations know that if they retain their customers, they'll have more customers in the end. These companies don't care about bad reputations; they rely on their overly cheap and "amazing" deals to attract new customers. The Slashdot crowd is an intelligent and computer-savvy group of people. But the average consumer which signs up for these services might not be, and he might not care about the cancellation process, and he might be influenced by these exit interviews to stay.

    Remember, corporations have access to great analytical data. If they continue to make hard cancellation processes, it means that there is profit to be made. That there are people who will stay because of the amount of labor required to cancel.

    It's sad. I would really like these business practices to change. I, for once, will never make my hosting services hard to cancel because I believe in having a good reputation and I'm satisfied by the warm emails that I get from happy customers. I'm sure that other Slashdot users who provide some kind of service do the same.
  • Credit cards suck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I spent almost a year trying to get my bank to block some merchant from billing my card. I just could not get through to anyone over at this merchant who could / would stop billing me so I did it through the bank. Dozens of phone calls, several days of my time, half a dozen letters, a certified letter, a threat of a small claims lawsuit, and a letter to the CEO later, and they finally did block all those charges, for real. What a horrible payment system. The most important task for a bank is to keep peo
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I use Citibank Master Card Diamond Account Preferred and got exactly this. I'm able to generate virtual credit card and set limit and expiration date.
      Maybe you should try that too.
  • Blockbuster Online (Score:4, Informative)

    by kahrytan (913147) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @03:33AM (#17495868)

    From my experience; You can suspend billing of a Blockbuster Online account from the website itself. They won't bill you again, account remains open, and no futher dvds at sent to you. And you can reactivate billing to continue dvd mailings to you.
  • by Brianech (791070) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:00AM (#17495962)
    Vonage was listed as "No hassle" but I found quite the contrary. You can only cancel over the phone, which runs from 9-5 EST Mon-Fri. This caused a pretty big problem considering I work 6am-4pm PST Mon-Fri (Its a Mill, work scheduled overtime weekly). I figured I could do it over my lunch break. But after calling the number they list to "cancel" I was bounced to another person, and found the waiting time to be over 45mins (at which time I had to head back to work).

    Basically I had to wait a few weeks until we had some downtime due to an accident. After waiting almost on hour and a half on hold, the operator kept trying to talk me out of it. I finally convinced her when I said "I JUST WANT TO FUCKING CANCEL". It was silent for a moment and then she said "OK, its all done, have a nice day." I guess I may have just had a unique encounter, but Vonage for me was FAR from easy. They have 24 hour support, but can't have 24 hour cancellations... I wont ever be returning to them. Had it been painless, I probably would have returned to Vonage when I moved.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ServerPronto (if you don't know who they are, keep it that way), was a dedicated server host I used during the (I believe 2005) hurricane season that was active in Florida. I was worried when the hurricane came through, but I had no downtime, no nothing... until a month after the hurricane passed over. Then, the servers died, their support chat disappeared, no responses to email, and their number came up disconnected (yet I got a CC charge two days later). I called everyday for a week and emailed them for a
  • by DMaster0 (26135) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @04:48AM (#17496164)
    It's not shocking that companies are doing this. It's very very intentional, as are the apologies and reluctant refunds. They know what they're doing, and it's a very good tactic to get every last drop of dirty money from unhappy customers.

    Most people are lazy. They'll just say "oh well at least they won't bill me again" when they see a parting shot from something they cancelled. It's only $15, and my time is valuable i'm not going to sit on hold and talk to someone who doesn't speak english just for $15 right? So the company makes it as much of a hassle as they can, in order to keep an extra $15 here and there. I imagine if you tried 200 companies, at least %75 of them have a policy in place to do the exact same thing. They also have a policy to own up and apologize for it whenever they're caught, by explaining that it was a one-time thing and they're very very sorry and it won't happen again. AOL did it to me several times (it's like I'd have learned my lesson once, but noooooo. Never use AOL as temporary internet access while you're out of town. Free trials are rarely free).

    The first place I heard of shady deals like this, of course, were the porn sites. You sign up for 30-days, but of course you're on a recurring billing immediately. If you're not careful, you're also sometimes agreeing to a multi-site pass that costs a lot more than you initially imagined! The porn sites are banking on the idea that you're not going to call visa and ask them to cancel a charge from a porn site at worst, and that you won't even notice the charge at best. If you find out, no problem they won't bill you again (but they won't refund you!). They still get 2 months of money from a one-month sub. It's genius, and it's no wonder "legit" companies have adopted porno site practices.
  • by ConanG (699649) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @05:04AM (#17496240)
    Not surpising that Consumer Reports got it perfect. Their host organization, the Consumers Union, published a set of guidelines they think all online sites should follow in order to promote online credibility. It's http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/consumer-reports-w ebwatch-guidelines.cfm [consumerwebwatch.org].

    They've also compiled a list of every site that's pledged to follow the guidelines. (PDF) http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/images/praiseworth y3.pdf [consumerwebwatch.org].
  • by Shag (3737) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @05:38AM (#17496384) Homepage
    I signed up for MySpace (yeah. I know.) from an email address with a plus in it.

    Wanted to cancel, and the confirmation email never came.

    Tried changing my email address (to something without a plus) and the confirmation email never came.

    Wrote to privacy@myspace.com like MySpace says to in this situation... it's been 2-3 months and the account is still there.

    For a couple of those months the account's name has been the uncensored version of "F*** MySpace" and its profile has been a description of how broken MySpace is in this regard. This hasn't gotten it canceled either.

    Once I manage to move the account's few friends somewhere else, I think I'll have to update its publicly-visible goodness with some choice commentary on "Tom," Rupert Murdoch, barnyard animals, drugs, Al-Qaeda, minors, and whatever else, to see if that helps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I had the same issue.

      My solution was to upload as much pornographic material as I could then add people as friends. Those people who blindly authorise add's without checking your profile certainly complain fast enough when xxx material appears in their friends list. I also started filling out the 'report offensive material' on my own account.

      I got the idea from The Consumerist [consumerist.com]

      As my blog on the issue notes:

      "I can confirm this method works. I can also confirm you cannot achieve this by uploading videos - the
  • That's nothing. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @06:41AM (#17496614)
    When I tried to cancel my ebay account, which had no pending sales/buys in it at all, it took from early August of 2005 to October 2005 of acting like an ass to get them to cancel my account. I tried everything, including terms-of-service violations in public to get them to pay attention. I even sent email messages consisting of 1MB (or was it two or three?) each of "Cancel My Account!" It's amazing how much you can cut and paste into an ebay feedback dialog (I found out, because when they reply the quote the whole thing). And even when they finally got around to me, they sent me an email saying that it would take a few more weeks. Just how difficult is it to delete an empty account?

    Why did I want it cancelled? Fraud. Obvious out-and-out fraud that I wasn't the victim of, but saw happening, and when it was brought to their attention the silence was deafening. Ebay's utter lack of even basic business honesty really offends me. Microsoft looks like a shining paragon of righteousness standing next to them. Even thinking of it now, more than a year later, a pit of anger is forming in my gut.

    I can only think of one reason why they make it so difficult to delete accounts: that it inflates the user base fraudulently. Inactive accounts count as "members" and they make it that difficult to cancel hoping that the user just gives up, which is probably what happens most of the time. It really was insane how much effort I had to put into getting an empty account nuked.

    Ebay, as a result, is on my list as "Not Recommended"

    --
    BMO
  • First you have to call them and spend hours on the phone explaining that you want their services cancelled, why, what you think of their service, your bank card, address, etc. etc. then they give you all types of discounts and freebies to make you change your mind when they finally do cancel it by the end of the month, they send you a 3-month free trial which if you don't cancel it, gets automatically activated into a full membership again
  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Sunday January 07, 2007 @09:00AM (#17497220) Journal
    That sold websites to small to medium sized businesses, but they did it like a telemarketing company. They were told it would be a trial period and if they didn't like it then they could cancel at any time. The company made lots of money because a lot of the businesses totally forgot about the website and wouldn't know they were being billed until the next quarter when they saw the bill. Some businesses were billed through their business phone company and wouldn't even notice the charge. My friends in customer service said it was stressful because they were required to retain an insane amount of customers and the customers would just go off on them. The company got sued several times, so they ended up audio taping the customers saying yes to the website trial.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Sunday January 07, 2007 @10:50AM (#17497812)
    I find it odd that True.com would make it difficult to cancel the account. Services like True.com and Match.com are designed to be temporary. "Once You Find you Mate you don't need the service anymore". Making it hard to cancel make me feel that they are not going to try to find a match, which is what I am paying them for. I used match.com myself and when I found my now wife. Canceling the service was relatively easy. Especially in the exit interview I just put down I found my match they just canceled it quickly.
  • Two tricks I use... (Score:5, Informative)

    by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nOSpAm.stango.org> on Sunday January 07, 2007 @11:18AM (#17497994) Homepage Journal
    If I sign up for a trial membership or something that requires a credit card, I create a temporary credit card (via my CC account with MBNA, now Bank of America) with a spending limit of only what I need, and use that. If the vendor earns my trust, I change my billing info to a real card. If they don't, well, good luck trying to perpetually bill the temporary card, fuckers!

    I also run my own mailserver, so every vendor I deal with gets their own address which just redirects to my main address. When I cease dealing with them, their e-mail address goes away and I never see another message from them. (This is also a handy method to see who's selling their customer databases to spammers)

    ~Philly

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