That day has come. You firmly decided to unsubscribe from a service you don’t want to use anymore and spend your money on. You are searching for options on your membership page, but slowly you start to get the feeling you are playing a hide-and-seek game. All of a sudden you are trapped in a maze. Does this situation sound familiar to you?
TopCashback’s latest Subscriptions Index revealed that 28% of those surveyed say they found canceling a subscription too hard so they didn’t even bother. Citizens Advice reported that difficulty in canceling subscriptions are costing people in the UK an average of £50 a month.
People are googling about whether it is legal for companies to make it so difficult to unsubscribe and the answer is — yes, it is mostly legal but we find it unethical.
You will also find claims that making these actions easier actually reduces profits and that these are the conversion rates you don’t want to optimize:
• Cancel service
• Downgrade your account
Some services have gone so far as not to offer the unsubscribe option online but to call them (hoping we forget) or to visit them in person (hoping we are to busy to do it right away).
The Guardian cites an example:
When I bought a car insurance policy from Esure last year, completing the application and paying the premium online was fairly straightforward. But if I didn’t want to auto-renew 12 months later, there was no option online — I had to phone Esure instead. Presumably the hope is I’d forget to call.
Esure says: ‘We have found that most customers wish to renew automatically… saving them the hassle of having to renew manually and ensuring they adhere to the legal requirement of car insurance. Customers are provided with a number to call should they not wish to renew and staff will activate this immediately’.
I believe most of us have had a similar experience:
Obviously, the goal is to retain customers at any cost, but how far does it go? We may understand if the company put a lot of effort into turning us to their customers and that they don’t want to lose us, but they didn’t wonder if we would still be happy with their brand. We no longer remember which company enabled us to unsubscribe easily and which don’t, so we have 2 problems:
- We were sick of the thought of canceling the service, so we delayed unsubscribe (and it costs us)
- We no longer want to sign up for a free trial of some apps and services because we assume that somehow we will pay for it at the end (so-called subscription phobia)
Even back in the days canceling a service looked like this:
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