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JOSH02K

Oedious and unfair practice - Automatic Renewals of Subscriptions

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Is there any regulation that prevents companies from imposing onerous conditions on you when you want to cancel automatic renewal that you did not ask for, - hence the automatic.

 

as an example here's one from ADVFN.COM. They are happy to snap up your payment online, however when it comes to cancelling its a different matter. I am surprised they didn't require an in person interview for cancellation... !

 

"Send notice of termination or downgrade including your username, full registered home and email addresses, service level to be downgraded to, contact telephone number and explanation of your intentions to: ADVFN PLC, Subs Dept, 26 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AN. ADVFN CANNOT ACCEPT NOTICE FOR CANCELATION OR DOWNGRADE VIA EMAIL, TELEPHONE OR FAX"

 

We need legislative protection against automatic renewal, and where a renewal has been automatic, the consumer should have the right to cancel at any time except when they have explicitly given authorisation for renewal AFTER expiry of a previous subscription ie, they cannot use weasle terms such as by signing this for the first year you also authorise automoatic renewal for all subsequent years. Automatic renewals should expire and deemed cancelled if not paid with no further action and full consumer protection. Credit card companies should be able to cancel automatic payments and not come out with rubbish like they can't cancel payments and we have to get the unfair trader to stop taking payments!

We also need a legislated right to cancel by any means, including e-mail and online, and as a minimum, by the same means that the initial subcription was made.

 

Are there any credit card companies that prevent such sharp practices from going ahead, ie, allow you to cancel automatic renewals by refusing them?

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Not for card payments, no. It is built into the architecture of the beast. Not only that, is is accepted without question if a merchant asserts the payment is ongoing (used to be called a 'continuous mandate') leaving open their ability to take further payments whether the cardholder has knowledge of this or not. This is one of the reasons I prefer to use cheques now, as this provides no mechanism to make further debits. The automatic cancellation you speak of is in place, and the expiry is set at 367 days from the previous debit of a transaction flagged as repeating or continuous.

 

These are rules laid down by Visa and Mastercard (and a lesser extent with AmEx and Diners), so the issue is one with the developers of the system, not the individual financial institutions who make cards available.

 

The biggest transgressors are Insurance companies, and to a lesser extent service providers on the web who when taking payment flag it as ongoing, whether it is a single purchase or not - and the cardholder has no indication on his statement whether this ongoing authority has been given. The best solution was from a firm called Orbiscom, who develoiped 'virtual' credit card numbers. This worked for online purchases, generating a fresh number online (with an optional credit limit, if required, set by the cardholder). Once the debit had been taken, the number could not be used again - except for a refund. This kept the conumer in control, but was disliked intensely by merchants for obvious reasons.

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Is there any regulation that prevents companies from imposing onerous conditions on you when you want to cancel automatic renewal that you did not ask for, - hence the automatic.

 

as an example here's one from ADVFN.COM. They are happy to snap up your payment online, however when it comes to cancelling its a different matter. I am surprised they didn't require an in person interview for cancellation... !

 

"Send notice of termination or downgrade including your username, full registered home and email addresses, service level to be downgraded to, contact telephone number and explanation of your intentions to: ADVFN PLC, Subs Dept, 26 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AN. ADVFN CANNOT ACCEPT NOTICE FOR CANCELATION OR DOWNGRADE VIA EMAIL, TELEPHONE OR FAX"

 

We need legislative protection against automatic renewal, and where a renewal has been automatic, the consumer should have the right to cancel at any time except when they have explicitly given authorisation for renewal AFTER expiry of a previous subscription ie, they cannot use weasle terms such as by signing this for the first year you also authorise automoatic renewal for all subsequent years. Automatic renewals should expire and deemed cancelled if not paid with no further action and full consumer protection. Credit card companies should be able to cancel automatic payments and not come out with rubbish like they can't cancel payments and we have to get the unfair trader to stop taking payments!

We also need a legislated right to cancel by any means, including e-mail and online, and as a minimum, by the same means that the initial subcription was made.

 

Are there any credit card companies that prevent such sharp practices from going ahead, ie, allow you to cancel automatic renewals by refusing them?

 

 

Couldn't agree with you more.

Just tried to cancel this subscription online and read the same bullsh*t conditions.

You can stop all sorts of payments online to amazon etc etc, but this is just taking the p*ss

AND it has to be done a month in advance so my next payment opn November 8 will be taken

Also, I live abroad so have to go through the rigmarole of writing.

 

I sent an email to my bank Cahoot to stop payments on the card but they probably can't.

Ridiculous.

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In most cases, the ability to renew is actually a pre-existing requirement that you'll have already have deemed to have agreed to to sign up for the service in the first place. Your ultimate sanction is to REFUSE to enter into this arrangement, by not signing up to it. Not by complaining after-the-event.

 

if more people did this, the drop in custom would require them to re-evaluate their scheme and modify accordingly.

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I've recently encountered an issue like this but differs in that I signed up to an actor's casting site (starnow) and once my subscription had run out I was prompted to renew my subscription, I chose not to. A month later my subscription had been automatically renewed with no indication in the first place that there was even an auto renewal option. I wasn't even sent an email to tell me that this was happening/had happened. Where do I stand legally with this? Should I legally be reimbursed or can they get away with this?

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It is becoming more common. There will have been a paragraph stating renewals will be taken automatically and it is up to the cardholder to ensure this mandate is cancelled. Many firms rely on this lethargy and the card firms let them. If EVER using your card, you need to take special car to ensure this is NOT overlooked.

 

If they point this out when you query it, then their actions are legal. If they did not state this within their terms of trading, then they cannot.

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Wasn't the system to cancel amended recently. I was under the impression that if you signed online then all that is needed to cancel the agreement is an email. In essence I suppose that if they can't accept the email that means that they could not accept the original agreement.

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Only if the terms contained the info that an email cancellation was acceptable. Even if it was, I'd be pretty uneasy that they'd have the intelligence to follow my instructions - too much can go wrong!

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Is there any regulation that prevents companies from imposing onerous conditions on you when you want to cancel automatic renewal that you did not ask for, - ...

 

(h) of Schedule2 of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 seems to more or less apply:

 

automatically extending a contract of fixed duration where the consumer does not indicate otherwise, when the deadline fixed for the consumer to express his desire not to extend the contract is unreasonably early;

 

8)

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Just try that with most insurance companies - all who will charge a renewal at the prevailing rate despite the insurance having a finite term. As they've been doing this under the guise of 'helping consumers' prevent uninsured vehicles on the road. as long as it was stated somewhere they'd do this, the onus remains with the consumer.

 

Why do you think you cannot pay eSure for insurance by anything other than plastic? Since 1998 they only allow card payments 'for security reasons'.

 

Yes, right.

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I can understand why the law would not be more specific, because the development of electronic payment methods is still in progress.

 

By the time a European Directive came to pass it could all have changed and may yet do so. At the end of the day the custom of the customer counts for that much more than the law, which is to suggest that it is simply not in the interest of a credit card company to prevent sharp practice before it is, so to speak, because the practice is business. They want the money to flow, not stop.

 

8-)

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Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but I'm interest in the problem with cancellation raised by the OP.

 

I have a premium ADVFN subscription which I also sought to cancel today by giving the required 30 days notice by email. ADVFN wrote back saying that their t&cs require me to cancel by posted letter and they don't accept cancellations by email.

 

Their new subscriber's email says that "You may terminate your subscription by giving ADVFN not less than 30 days written notice". The requirement to do this by letter is only spelt out in their t&cs.

 

Given that they accept new subscriptions online and upgrades to new subscriptions on line, it seems unreasonable not to accept downgrades or cancellations online. There are obvious commercial reasons for them to behave in this way.

 

My question is whether the requirement for a letter could be regarded as an unfair term? I would really like to challenge them over this.

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I have had no extent of trouble with trying to cancel with ADVFN.

 

I initially upgraded to a Silver subscription in early August only for the service to cease to work for me (it wouldn't work in Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 6 or Google Chrome). I tried for a few weeks to get this working again (including emails to their support desk) but to no avail.

 

I then tried to cancel with them, which is still an ongoing exercise in seemingless futility. I initially sent the required letter to cancel in late August. There was no reply to this and I was once again charged the monthly subscription. I followed up in mid-September by email to find out what was going on and was told that my letter had not been received and that my emails (including scans of said letter posted) would be ignored in regards to cancellaton.

 

I dutifully sent a second letter in mid-September (with a copy of the first letter) to again confirm cancellation and complaint that the service had not worked since mid-August. Once again I heard nothing back but again was subsequently billed the next two months.

 

At this point, I emailed once again to find out what was going on. Again, I was told that my letter had not been received. I dutifully sent them a third letter (including copies of the first two letters) and a further email with copies of these letters too. Funnily enough, this third letter has not been received either. Having worked for Royal Mail, I know the chances of three letters to the same address going missing is next to non-existent.

 

Currently, I have been in contact with my credit card provider to reverse these charges. As a precautionery measure, I have also had to cancel my existing credit card in order to ensure that these unlawful payments cease. Despite the numerous letters and emails to ADVFN, I have heard nothing about my complaints.

 

Frankly, ADVFN has been an odious company to deal with and has disgusting levels of customer service. I can only advise to stay well clear of them and their outdated and clearly duplicitous practices.

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That's pretty much what I expected they would do with me.In the event I let the matter slip and, as expected, they charged my card again as they don't consider email to be written notice.I kept the service going in order to get out of the market in a controlled way. Now that I've done that, I'm going to have another go at cancelling the service and pursuing them.

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Hi, I have fallen into the automatic-renewal-of-insurance trap. Quote Mart - part of the BGL Group of insurance companies (which includes Compare the Market, Budget Insurance and Dial Direct) has taken £175 from my account, citing a roll-on contract. As regards a full refund, I am getting no satisfaction from Qoute Mart or my bank - Lloyds TSB.

 

In an entry above (29 Aug '10) buzby says that right to automatically renew lapses 367 days from the previous debit. Lloyds bank have no knowledge of this. I have a Lloyds / Visa debit card. The Visa Europe website says that the terms and conditions of debit cards are set by your bank and not them.

 

Can busby (or anybody else) refer me to his source of the "367 day rule"? Regards.

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