Case Study on Legal Fraud (aka Subscription Services)
Huddle (or https://huddle.team) is a service created by Free Conference Call (https://freeconferencecall.com). The brand is reputable, so I thought I would be safe signing up for their service, but it was impossible to cancel my Huddle account. In fact, they double billed me for both a Free Conference Call account AND a Huddle account, and it took me months to figure out where the charges were coming from exactly.
During this time, I wrote to both Free Conference Call and Huddle via their support email address. Those requests were either ignored or they would write back saying they couldn’t find anything either. That’s really great.
In the end, I closed my bank account, and now, my account is finally cancelled. Another option is to report your credit card stolen.
Predatory Subscription Services
A consumer shouldn’t have to cancel a card or switch bank accounts to cancel a service, but there are predatory, faceless organizations out there who will gladly take their customer’s money. Save The Children is another I dealt with for a long time – long story, used a 3rd party advocacy platform to resolve that one. Television channels, or any other subscription are just “gems” to keep an eye on. I recently spotted a Showtime subscription that was buried in my Amazon Prime – dinging me for $11/mo for a year and I wasn’t watching that channel. And the real kicker? They know when you are using their service and when you are not. You would think they’d have the integrity to say, huh, it’s been 3 months, lets pause them. Nope, they just take all that sweet money and give you nothing.
The Subscription Hedge
Do yourself a favor and put all your subscriptions on one credit card. Don’t use a bank account or bank card. That way, the invoice demands some attention every month. It will force a look at the monthly burn on subscription services as an aggregated total. Saying, hey, that’s only $14/mo, might sound workable. But once 10 of those make it on the bill, and that becomes $140/mo, that might trigger a review to shave down that list to a more workable number.
Our Super Advanced Subscription Future
I really don’t think the consumer should have to pay for services they don’t use. Companies know when their services are not being used, and by leaning on revenue coming from customers where they are sneaking in charges for “services” that aren’t actually being consumed – that’s just crummy business. Now, this is different than reserving resources (another rant for another day). Generally, though, if the customer is not paying to reserve a chunk of costly resources, and are just paying for the option to use a service which costs very little to maintain when not in use , then companies should pause the billing accounts not in use and, in the case of annual subscriptions, they should tack additional time on so the customer gets to use their services. I know, I know, that’s so futuristic. How can machine learning and AI possibly handle this extraordinarily advanced idea? I am just such a progressive thinker, right?