I was recently re-subscribed to a newspaper, which I didn’t notice until checking my credit card statement and seeing a sizable renewal fee (not the cheapest newspaper to sign up for yearly access to). The thing was that they tried to get a hold of me at an e-mail address I no longer have access to, to confirm I wanted to resubscribe. I of course didn’t get the e-mail, so they assumed that was a yes, and now I’m going back and forth saying it was something my old company paid for, for a specific reason that’s no longer relevant.

They essentially informed me that they couldn’t cancel my subscription, and I’d have to wait to next year to cancel. Having experience being trapped at a gym in a simliar set of circumstances, I contacted the credit card company and am now working through the situation with them around mitigating this auto-renewal train wreck. What it’s highlighted for me though, is that there are companies in the world that still think it’s ok to trap their customers into contracts. Though they did offer to reduce it by 10%, it was not about the price (I’d gladly pay for it if I used it) but that they took advantage of a check box I didn’t uncheck last year, and an e-mail I didn’t get, to say I gave my indirect approval to get charged for another year.

Though I’m not a customer today, there’s a chance I would be in the future or that I’d come in contact with other people using the service, and this just sours me on ever wanting to deal with them again. I know though, this newspaper isn’t something individuals subscribe to and that it’s something that companies subscribe to for their executives & financial analysts. Regardless, when is it ok to trap someone in an agreement they had unintentionally consented to? Is it ever ok to cause someone to feel trapped into an agreement, you didn’t readily create an opportunity to opt out of? Yea, they might get my fee for the year, but I’m not all that inclined to recommend them to folks in the future, and is it really worth one subscription fee for a year to get that?

It’s the ugly side of subscriptions, and I get why they make it hard to quit, but this model comes to a head at some point where consumers have other options and decide to either use free resources or go month to month with no strings attached.