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Just Cancel the @#%$* Account!

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the patience-grasshopper dept.

Businesses 483

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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483 comments

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please cancel slashdot subscription zonk is nuts (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495432)

how do I cancell slash dot.. or zonk?

Re:please cancel slashdot subscription zonk is nut (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495948)

Simple... just throw yourself off of a building to cancel your Slashdot account. If you don't go splat, you didn't try hard enough. :P

OMG that is annoying (0, Redundant)

Cobratek (14456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495438)

Try canceling MSN internet sometime.

Re:OMG that is annoying (5, Informative)

Knightlymuse (626563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495638)

MSN Internet was on the list. They scored as "Big Hassle"

Here is the Big Hassle list:

* AOL
* BlueMountain.com
* Classmates.com
* ESPN
* MSN Internet
* Napster.com
* NetZero
* Real Rhapsody
* Real SuperPass
* True.com

Re:OMG that is annoying (1)

Hoolala (976766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495870)

Cancelling their AOL service anyone? Good luck :)

Re:OMG that is annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495944)

the only problem i had canciling is chasing it down via links till i got an 888 phone number then they sent 3 different rate our service in canciling your accuount i talkd to a Canida subsidiary that did it with no problem Luckily i had not passsed the grace period where theyd kept the money and canciled the accuount.. not to say they havent tried to get me back..
when they killed the Chat service i had no need for thier service.. (the fact they ended support for win 98 and ME was the start of my dislike for the company.. )

It's easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495440)

...just &*!@#ing cancel the credit card.

Re:It's easy... (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495746)

I did this once, and my bank conveniently lost my request to cancel the card, even though I delivered a written, signed request to a teller at my local branch. About a month after I thought that I had cancelled the card, I had an ISP bill the card for year service (which I no longer wanted), and when I called the bank to dispute the charge they asked me why. I told them it was because they (the bank) didn't cancel my card. The customer service rep was totally confused when I tried to explain the situation. Sadly, the bank didn't have any way of dealing with their own screw up, so as far as I know they put a chargeback through to the ISP. If they did then they were totally unfair to the ISP, who would have been billed a chargeback fee. The moral of the story? Call back to confirm that the card has been cancelled. It's real easy for requests to get lost in the system, even when they're in writing.

Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (5, Interesting)

holdenholden (961300) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495520)

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, but I'm assuming that will do it. Doesn't seem that hard at all if someone has basic skills of how to navigate a website. I wouldn't be suprised if it has been changed since Paypal has become a lot more user friendly as of late (which might not be saying much - but they have improved).

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (5, Informative)

fishdan (569872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495676)

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.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (5, Interesting)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495898)

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?

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495922)

With these "virtual" and "gift" cards, you can often make up the "cardholder name" and other details. They will have a tough time affecting your credit history when they have no idea who you are.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496002)

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.

Technically, even successfully disputing a charge on your credit card does not legally erase the debt, it just means the merchant has to find alternate means to collect like hiring a debt collector or outright suing you. Most never go that far because they tend to be in the wrong, but it does happen on occasion.

Either way, as they say "possession is nine-tenths of the law" - if they have your money, you are never getting it back. If you have your money, you can at least negotiate from a position of strength.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (1)

videoBuff (1043512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495828)

Some companies specifically forbid using Virtual cards.
Their contract specifies a monetary value that a customer
must pay, if one signs up using one these cards.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (5, Informative)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495894)


Some companies specifically forbid using Virtual cards.
Their contract specifies a monetary value that a customer
must pay, if one signs up using one these cards.


This would be in violation of the VISA Merchant Agreement. Though merchantes ARE permitted to refuse to accept debit/prepaid VISA cards, they may not charge an additional fee for the use of a credit card (though a "cash discount" is permissible). See http://merchants.visa.com/ds/pdfs/Card_Acceptance_ and_Chargeback_Guidelines.pdf [visa.com] (PDF), pg. 10 "No Surcharging".

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495900)

gah. forgot the slash in my closing blockquote tag.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (2, Informative)

johnw (3725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496016)

This certainly isn't the case in the UK any more. It used to be part of the agreement, but was removed quite a few years ago (at least 10). You find a number of businesses do charge an additional fee (usually a percentage) if you pay with a credit card.

Re:Virtual Credit Card Anybody? (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496030)

Wow, that's interesting. Thanks, I didn't know that.

However, I think my point still holds true, because all of the companies in the article are US based. :)

NetZero... (2, Informative)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495456)

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 (4, Funny)

dj245 (732906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495460)

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:Vonage (2, Interesting)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495764)

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.

funny-ish (1)

DeadPrez (129998) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495464)

And somehow Netzero was harder to cancel then that classmates.com ordeal? Grr, I might even have to click the link.

Re:funny-ish (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495788)

THAN

It's not difficult, shithead.

Irritating as hell (5, Insightful)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Irritating as hell (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495536)

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

Re:Irritating as hell (5, Informative)

ShinyBrowncoat (692095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495960)

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:Irritating as hell (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495550)

I concur. Match.com was the same way. They made me click through a half dozen pages each one reminding me of a service I would miss out on. Even when I was signed up they still occasionally displayed pages reminding me of the great services I was getting (I just want to follow the link I clicked on, not view an advertisement). When I signed up, they didn't even give me the option of not renewing. If you don't want them to automatically renew your membership, you have to cancel your service. However, if you cancel within the first three days they terminate your service altogether.

I personally use a Visa gift card for online services. It gives me some sense of security knowing they can't charge me more than the card is worth.

Re:Irritating as hell (1)

Tempest429 (1024249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495574)

What makes these companies think that this will make them money?
I would guess they are hoping that if they make it hard for you to cancel you'll just give up and keep paying. To me that seems like very bad business

Re:Irritating as hell (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495778)

or at least get one last month out of you....

Re:Irritating as hell (4, Insightful)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 7 years ago | (#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...

Re:Irritating as hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496038)

If only it was only companies... I had far more problems trying to get my accounts removed from websites owned by individuals... Some do even answer you that "they do not remove account"... Some answer you "why do you care? do not use your account again, and this is it"... This is highly frustrating, and a damn stupid waste of time. There should be simple forms, to automatically remove our accounts, on every website (and websites shouldn't require you to register for even viewing a damn forum, or posting a comment, but that's yet another matter). The thing is, phpBB do not even support it, and a lot of other web apps do not either. Mediawiki do not support it, for example (of course, there might be problems with reusing usernames, but I'm not asking to completely free everything -which indeed isn't the right thing to do, in most cases-, I'm just asking my email address, and stuffs like this, to be removed...).

Now, if they do not support it, most often, because I don't want to waste my time trying to explain myself, I simply use temporary email addresses, or change my email address to something erroneous (delete-me@example.org, for example)... with some forums, it even deactivates my account automatically, and the webmaster might receive an SMTP error, so he might decide to remove the account, if he cares...

that reminds me of a similar situation (4, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495506)

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.

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (4, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495542)

I call shenanigans on this one! What would a slashdotter know about, "girlfriends," and, "sex?!?!"

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495582)

Didn't you get the memo? The internet is for porn. (Okay, doesn't explain the girlfriend part, but eh......)

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495740)

I call shenanigans on this one!

Unlikely to be shenanigans. Since the normal wank speed of an adult American female is 3-4 strokes per second (SPS), Larry's best effort only lasts for 25-30 seconds. That's well below the US average of 7.9 minutes.

It's definitely not something most people would brag about on the internets, and it does explain his /. trolling style. Let's face it, if Larry was a real performer in the sack, he wouldn't need to be seeking the approval of a pack of pasty-faced blog trolls.

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495814)

Look at it like this, some chick, is stroking, her larry bagina.

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495854)

All I have to say is: Ew.

Re:that reminds me of a similar situation (1)

repvik (96666) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495956)

You must be new^Wold here...

Cost of cancelling (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495518)

There's more work to cancelling an account than most non-admins realise.
Not only do you have to stop the user from logging in, but you need to find any and all files owned by the user, and archive those. Then identify any processes this user might have run, like web instances and timed jobs (log rotations, SQL dumps for backup, ETRN pushes), and disable those too. Did the customer have one or more vanity domains? DNS changes too, then, as well as coordinating a switch-over to new DNS servers. How about mail aliases? Those have to be disabled too.
Then you need to make sure that no other user gets the same account or mail aliases in the future, else a new user could get mail (or lawsuits) intended for the old user, and guess who'll be blamed?

Yes, it should be easy to cancel. But I think it's entirely fair that there's a cancellation fee, and that it doesn't happen instantaneously either.

Regards,
--
*Art

Re:Cost of cancelling (4, Insightful)

GenKreton (884088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495612)

Unless you expect nobody to ever cancel your paid services, then why should there be a fee to this? With all that work it should be well scripted out and never require administrator level input. If it does then the programmers really fouled up. I should never be charged because the company was to incompetent. If you want people to pay you should provide them with the ability to stop paying nicely, sans fee.

Re:Cost of cancelling (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495630)

There can be other problems as well, particularly if the account being canceled is on a site using a separate billing company to handle monthly billing. This gets even worse if one winds up signing up with several different sites as some sort of a referral program (some dating sites have used schemes like this before; sign up with xyz affiliates, get free premium access on dating site for a few months). One could wind up dealing with fly-by-night affiliate sites that conveniently fail to notify their billing companies of account closures.

Re:Cost of cancelling (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495640)

I call bollocks on that. Any system worth its salt runs all that as a single (and fairly atomic) script the instant the UID is removed from the user database. I've built systems where the opposite is the case, we had to add several levels of confirm for an operator to remove an account because the cleanup was so thorough that the moment you hit that return key the final time... boom, no going back. It's also safer that way because removing every service separately by hand leaves far more room for error. Cancellation charges are just extortion. And besides they should be incorporated into the monthly fees, asking a customer to PAY to cancel is just damned immoral.

The worst account I ever tried to cancel was (don't laugh I know this is Slashdot) a gym membership. I basically had to order my bank to cease paying
them under pain of closing the bank account and have a lawyers letter sent to the company. The still send me a reminder as a "special valued customer you can come back for 50% monthly discount". I send the letters back without return postage and they still send more.

Re:Cost of cancelling (2, Interesting)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495992)

I can vouch for this one. The hardest cancellation I've ever had to do was with Gold's Gym.
I had just moved back home from another state and wasn't sure how long I'd be here, so I specifically asked the salesperson about cancellation, I was told that it'd just be a $100 cancellation fee (even that is too much, but seemed reasonable at the time for some reason.) 6 months later, I tried to cancel only to find out that I have to show proof that I am moving more than X miles from any Gold's location, etc... They kept charging dues over the 3 months it took to cancel.
Then the 4th month rolled around and guess what? There was a glitch in their system and I was still billed for another month. Only after yelling && cussing out the phone for over 2 hours was I able to get a refund for that, and it took 6 weeks to arrive.

And this is exactly what a previous poster was talking about- not only will I never go back there- I will discourage everybody that I know is considering going there from signing up for their service. Crappy customer service, but they spend more on advertising than I do, so they'll probably win in the end. Fuck.

Re:Cost of cancelling (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495642)

If companies can't handle this before opening their doors, virtual or otherwise, then that's a problem on their end. It shouldn't be the end-user's monetary problem that they no longer want the service, regardless of the difficulty endured by the company. Granted, some people can take advantage of this, but they are likely a minority of the overall userbase. Either way, charging to cancel a flat reoccuring-rate monthly service charge is retarded, unless you are a mobile carrier, in which case morals don't even come into play.

Re:Cost of cancelling (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495658)

I could see that if the type of service is extremely customized to the end user. But for most cases, canceling an account is just as easy as setting up the account in the first place.

Re:Cost of cancelling (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495980)

Balls. Even if the service is heavily customised to the end user, all the customisation amounts to is "a limited number of options which the user can have on their account".

Seeing as this information will be stored on a computer, it's not too difficult for a scrtpt to drag up the list of options and erase each one as appropriate. If you're doing this by hand in anything other than a tiny business with customer numbers measured in tens, the problem is yours, not your customers.

Re:Cost of cancelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495818)

You claim that it's fair that there be cancellation fees. Here are two arguments against it.

All accounts will eventually be canceled, if only because of the death of the client. When signing up for a service, you subscribe for a period of time that will necessarily end. Why should the customer be punished for a lack of foresight of the company? If you must absorb this into a fee, be up-front and charge for it in the setup fee. Also, how come, often, if I cancel within X days, there are no fees; yet if I cancel later, there are? The work to be done is the same.

As an alternative, if one considers cancellation as a cost of doing business (like buying office supplies), one could think this: Would you be willing for a company to charge you 20$ every time you had to update your credit card number or expiry date? No. Then why should one have to pay for them to stop charging you all together? Yes, the latter requires more effort; however, they both are an update in the status of your account. Your claim is almost tantamount to saying that all consumer level updates should be billable.

Everything boils down to this: Cancellation is not a service. Why are you charging me for it!

The last thing I'd like to note is that cancellation fees are often exorbitant: a group I am a part of was recently charged 50$ as cancellation fee for a 5$/month service. This wasn't a mid-contract cancellation penalty either. This was their standard fee!

Re:Cost of cancelling (5, Insightful)

StarsAreAlsoFire (738726) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495990)

Say what? You have to be kidding.

Cancelling an account should never take more than a few keystrokes and a button click. Maybe two clicks, the second one being a verification -- but if you've ever watched support handle confirmation screens, you know they aren't going to look at them anyway.

This is what admins are FOR: writing the backend code in the DB (and elsewhere) which ensures that, yes, when a user cancels their account, all traces of them are either removed, or the account is put into a 'hold' status if there are things like (as you said) e-mail addresses to worry about.

And no, there should NOT be cancellation charges on ANY service. Ever. None. Zero.

That is what long term contracts are for. If I say I want one year of service, then I pay for one year of service. Even if I cancel after a month. If the company offers me PART of my money back, cool! I think we are on the same page there in a way - a lot of people see a 50 dollar early termination fee as hideous, even though they are actually getting out of, say, 9 months of a 40 dollar per month service. I just despise situations where I *have* to sign a contract, and I have no power to negotiate and nobody else offers shorter terms.

And yes, I've been an admin at a company that had to deal with such. No, it wasn't shockingly difficult to create the system for dealing with this. Though, I admit it was made easier by the fact that, by law, we had to retain most of the information, and thus didn't have to do much more than null out CC#s and put the user in the inactive bin.

Personally, I'd like to see a law that states 'Cancelling may not be any more difficult than creating.' Four clicks to create? Four clicks to cancel. Big bold 'Create Account' button?... You get the idea. If you can create an account via the web, you can damned well figure out how to cancel one.

Anway, enough late night rambling,

Re:Cost of cancelling (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496018)

Ok, but that is a pretty special case. We're talking about things like Netzero dialup accounts, dating sites, that kind of thing. You're talking about professional services that offer a wide range of options and control. Hell, do many ISPs even offer shell/web accounts anymore? In most cases it really is just a matter of disabling login.

-matthew

What a shock... (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495544)

AOL is still a hassle to drop. I canceled my account with them over six years ago, and I was on the phone with the rep for over 30 minutes before they would accept the fact that I wanted to cancel service entirely.

Re:What a shock... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495810)

The easy way to get AOL to cancel is to tell them you are now running a server and it needs to fetch POP3 mail. When they tell you their walled garden e-mail doesn't support POP3, tell them you have to change providers. Worked for us. Your milage may vary.

Re:What a shock... (1)

Lusa (153265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495896)

That's strange, it may be differing corporate policies but I had the opposite when I cancelled with AOL UK 6 or 7 years ago with my 1p a minute dial up account. After 10 minutes or so waiting on the phone, the operator asked why I wanted to cancel my account. I told her to look at the previous bills and she said 'oh wow!' and that was it. Account cancelled without a fight. So all you need to do is run up a huge bill right before you want to cancel and they will be happy ;)

Wells Fargo (1)

sean_ex_machina (1026748) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495548)

I signed up for Wells Fargo's BillPay to pay for my car loan. It didn't actually work, so I tried to cancel. There's absolutely no way to cancel the service online (despite it being very, very easy to sign up for it). I sent them an E-mail asking how I could cancel it online and the response was "sorry you didn't like the service, we've canceled your account". Awesome, I think.

Freedom? (0, Flamebait)

Arborigine (1034550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495576)

Try and get the Democratic party to stop emailing you!

Tried With Telco's Lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495558)

When I cancelled my cell phone last year, I had to pay $25 for "administrative charges." I didn't even sign a contract. When my girlfriend's brother tried to cancel with his cable provider, he had to answer a long survey by pushing buttons on his phone for almost half an hour before being put on hold for a person to answer.

Consumer Reports (5, Interesting)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495568)

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.

Re:Consumer Reports (5, Interesting)

staticdaze (597246) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495710)

I'll second the great service with Consumer Reports. Last month, I bought a gift subscription for a family member. A couple weeks later, when I actually informed them of the gift, it turned out they already had a subscription. So I called Consumer Reports up, got through to a human in under a minute(!) and asked if I could get a refund on the gift subscription. After a few basic details (name, address, etc), she simply said "You will be credited within a week. Anything else?" I was in shock and even verified that the process was truly completed. First class service all the way.

Re:Consumer Reports (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495800)

Go figure, the publication for consumers is the most consumer friendly. I guess that speaks highly of their product reviews.

Re:Consumer Reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496024)

Consumer Reports was used in my statistics class of how not to do statistics.

Consumer Reports makes sense (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496022)

They're a consumer advocacy organization. Their magazine, for example doesn't accept adds because they fear that it mike make them (look) less objective. They also pay standard list price for articles that they test for the same reason. It makes perfect sense to me that they're a shining example of what consumer service should work like, and they deserve our support.

The New York Times being hassle-free, on the other hand, is a bit more surprising (IMHO). They're just being good because they want to.

Netflix (1)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495586)

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.

Starz (1)

flyboy974 (624054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495656)

I used Starz On-Demand download service almost two years ago. It was actually really good. The service did exactly what was advertised. The only problem, you can't cancel!

I look on their website. Nope. You can't cancel. I emailed them. They said call their 800#. I called the 800 number. They say OK. I watch my credit card, nope. Not calcelled. I emailed them again with the ref# and the previous email thread saying I wanted to cancel. They responded saying "Nope.". So, I wrote back and told them I would just do a chargeback of every charge. They said they would "Forward it to a supervisor". Guess what. Still not cancelled. I charged back every future one. Guess what? My credit card company told me to just cancel my card. Only problem? I pay for about 8 other things with that same card.

Why can't a credit card company just reject charges for one merchant for an account? These guys are a$$ 0's. As of today, I am still having to do charge-backs every month.

Actually, true.com sounds like the worst offender (2, Interesting)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495682)

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 (3, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495688)

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 (5, Informative)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:.Mac & iTunes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495966)

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?

Re:.Mac & iTunes (1)

Josuah (26407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495982)

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:.Mac & iTunes (2, Informative)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496032)

When you purchase music from the iTunes store, iTunes prompts you to back it up and asks you to insert a CD.

Re:.Mac & iTunes (1)

Fulkkari (603331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496004)

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

Actually it goes even further. You can rename your Apple ID e.g from R3dM3rcury@mac.com just to R3dM3rcury if you want. I did it myself a couple of years ago on the Apple Developer Connection site under "Update Apple ID" and just checked that you can do the same in iTunes also.

Netzero.. the worst by Far (2, Informative)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495692)

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 confirmed my identity. Cancel my account or I will chargeback any charges to my credit card ".

Seems to work ok, most of the time.

credit card merchant agreements (5, Informative)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.)

Re:credit card merchant agreements (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495924)

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 see a clause like that on the user agreement, my first question is going to be "and so, just how do you intend to jerk me around? that you have that clause there?"

Run. Run screaming, unless you really need that service (and even then....).

Heh.. he did not try to cancel Tivo service (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495724)

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 understood "Cancel" word. But then it simply tells you, that you have to speak to a human (with wait time of half an hour or so) and, if you happened to call outside of 7AM-8PM PST you are out of luck, because only human can disconnect the service ("for your convenience" of course). So many hoops for canceling so ridiculously overpriced service (with contracts and termination fees) that used to be cheap and nice.

Tell your credit card company to cancel it. (1)

C3ntaur (642283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495750)

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.

Re:Tell your credit card company to cancel it. (1)

flyboy974 (624054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495874)

Tried this. They (CitiCard) told me the only thing they can do is cancel my card to stop the charges, even after valid charge-backs from the same merchant.

There is an easy way (5, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:There is an easy way (-1, Offtopic)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495964)

Metamoderator: Mod down whomever marked this 'informative.' Funny _maybe_ (that's a stretch), but INFORMATIVE??

Cancelling Woes (2, Interesting)

FalleStar (847778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495768)

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 months later I got a call from my mother telling me that they were still charging her credit card every month. So after calling the customer service again they said that they needed to get confirmation from the person who the account was registered to, which surprisingly somehow was not me. Somehow the account had gotten my little brother's name on it and they insisted that they needed to get his confirmation before they would close the account. My brother at the time was 13 years old and I had to have my mother call up and put my brother on the phone to give the ok just to cancel the subscription. I've dealt with Xbox Live since and had no problems with canceling though so they seem to have fixed their problems.

efax sucks! (4, Informative)

didiken (93521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495772)

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! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495856)

"try it for FREE in one month"

Well, that's the problem right there. You can't try it for free until a month has passed. Until then, you're trying it for expensive.

Pay for someone else's AOL and get stuck forever (1, Interesting)

drfuchs (599179) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495784)

I used my credit card to pay for a relative's AOL account as a gift a long while ago. The relative lost interest, but my card kept getting charged. I called AOL to cancel, but they wouldn't let me without my knowing the login password to the account. "But it's not my account!" "You can't cancel it, then." "Fine, don't cancel it, but I do not authorize you to charge MY credit card any longer." "No, you can't change the credit card info on an account you don't know the password to." "But it's MY credit card and as the only person authorized to use it, I'm telling you I don't approve of the charge! Let me speak to a supervisor!" Amazingly, still no luck. I had to get the credit card company to cut them off. This was before they capitulated on a few class-action lawsuits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL#Account_cancellat ion [wikipedia.org] and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/04/aol_billin g_litigation/ [theregister.co.uk] , so I don't know if it's better now.

Capital One Credit Card offers... (1)

flajann (658201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495786)

For years now, my snail mailbox gets flooded with Capital One credit card offers, some days 3 offers in the same day! It's very annoying because I shread that and other solitications for credit cards so that no one can use them in my name behind my back.

I have never had a Capital One card, nor do I ever intend to own one either. Have I tried to cancel their constant solicitations? No, for I fear it would be a LOT more trouble than it's worth.

I thought of saving all of ther junk mail and charging them for "disposal fees", but I simply don't have the time to pursue this crap.

I did once try telling the Post Office to stop delivering junk mail, but that went over like a lead baloon. Maybe I should take all the junk mail and stuff it in a big trash bag and dump it all on their doorstep one morning. Perhaps they'll get the message then.

Re:Capital One Credit Card offers... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495866)

Have you tried writing "return to sender" on it and stuffing it back in the mailbox? (Not that I've tried it...)

Re:Capital One Credit Card offers... (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495950)

Have you tried writing "return to sender" on it and stuffing it back in the mailbox? (Not that I've tried it...)


Most junk mail is bulk rate. It won't be returned, it will just be destroyed. If you get junk mail at the first-class rate, that would be returned.

Grandparent won't be able to get the post office to not deliver the mail. It's a federal crime (18 USC 1701, 1702). Postal employees have lost their jobs [sptimes.com] over such action.

Handling credit card offers: NOT return to sender (2, Interesting)

KWTm (808824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496042)

The other day my US Postal carrier (mailwoman --but that would be an oxymoron) said to me, "I thought you moved --I'm getting all this mail from your address marked 'Return to Sender'(RTS)." I told her that, to teach these slimy junkmail-sending businesses a lesson, I was sending all their mail back. She said that any bulk mail marked "Presorted", which is most of them, is sent at a discounted rate that doesn't cover the cost of the RTS service; anything marked RTS is brought back to the mail processing plant and shredded. Ah, well. So the business never gets to see it. I guess I could still mark it RTS and get the US Post to shred it so I don't have to -- I don't like having recycled papers floating around in those public recycling dumps with my name and address on it -- but I guess I'm resigned to having to shred them myself.

With regard to credit card offers, you can tell the US credit rating companies that you don't want any more credit card offers. There's a phone number you can phone, and they ask you, "Do you mean stop sending credit card offers for 5 years, or permanently?"

At first I hesitated at permanently --what if I can't get more credit cards in the future even if I want to?-- but then I realized that I had successfully applied for one particular credit card without any solicitation. A friend told me about the good features --photo ID and signature printed on the card, 5% rebate on groceries and gasoline, 1% rebate on all else-- so I phoned and got approved. There was absolutely no downside to me being the one to take the initiative to contact them. In fact, only after I had gotten the card did I start getting offers from *that same bank* for all sorts of other cards. (Stupid bank, I just *got* a card from you! --why do I need more? Anyway, now that junk mail is blocked.)

If you sign up for "permanently", you have to send them something in writing. I did that, and my mailbox has been mercifully free of credit card offers for the past year or so. I'm too lazy to Google for it right now, so whoever wants to do it can probably get his/her post modded up.

As for the rest of the junk mail, I tried to ask my mailwoman to stop delivering them ("I just throw it away anyway," I told her) but apparently legally she is obligated to deliver it. There is a way to stop it, though; my wife tried it at her old address and apparently it worked.

It does like this: by law, you may order advertisers not to send you unsolicited mail if it is sexually provocative. But what is sexually provocative? The Supreme Court has upheld a decision that only YOU can determine whether something is sexually provocative to YOU. So, suppose you decide that the SuperSaver Coupons logo in your junk mail is sexually provocative to you. Who's to say it isn't? Your post office has no authority to decide that it isn't, so if you say it is, they must stop delivering that mail.

So, you can get this form from the post office that declares that you don't want the junk mail from that one particular source. You also need to bring a sample of the junk mail. My wife found it all on the web, so it's there, but again I'm too lazy to Google for it.

Hope that helps!

there's a better way (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495906)

Take out the Business Reply envelope and the paperwork. Tear your address off, and throw those pieces away. Tear up the remaining paperwork into pieces small enough to fit into the Business Reply envelope. Insert pieces into Business Reply envelope, and seal it. Drop into public mailbox. Voila!

With any luck, Capital One will get charged extra for having so much extra in the reply envelope. And the only pieces you have to dispose of are the ones with your personal info.

Re:Capital One Credit Card offers... (1)

Deviant Q (801293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495952)

One of the people here at Caltech got a pre-approved credit card offer. He decided he would crumple it, tear it up into many pieces, then tape it back together. He would then fill it out with a change-of-name and change-of-address form as well. ... and he got approved.

True, but the corporations still win... (4, Insightful)

paulius_g (808556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495802)

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.

Canceled the wrong thing (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495816)

It would have been far easier to just cancel the payments and let them sort it out themsleves.

Credit cards suck (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495836)

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 people's money safe, which means being able to block unauthorized payments.

If some bank is really clever they will set up a web interface that lets you easily generate one-time-use or limited-use credit card numbers, or even physical credit cards (perhaps for a slight fee). The way it would work is you would say, "I want to create a new credit card, with these limitations: maximum billing of $50 per month." Then you give it to one particular on-line merchant, and when you want to stop service, you don't even deal with the merchant; you go straight to your bank web page, you select that particular generated CC number, and you click "cancel", and that is done.

Hello banks, this is not difficult! This would be such a great feature. If any bank offered that I would get an account with them and use only them for my on-line transactions.

People pc (1)

cube799 (968520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17495860)

People Pc online Cancelation sucks too.

Blockbuster Online (3, Informative)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Vonage wasn't easy for me (3, Informative)

Brianech (791070) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

ServerPronto and Cancellations (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17495968)

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 awhile before calling my CC company to dispute (for all of Bank of America's problems, they have a great dispute department). They had the same problems with disconnected numbers, so they found in my favor immediately and refunded my money. Two weeks later, mostly to ensure that the company wouldn't continue trying to charge me every month for what I assume was a company that had cut and run, I call and get through. I spoke to the most rude operator in the world at their company, who had the ***** to tell me that ServerPronto had not charged me money, and it went downhill from there before he hung up on me. He also told me that everything died when the hurricane hit, even though none of this had happened for a month after the storm blew over.

He hung up on me, I called back, and ended up speaking with a generic operator who told me no one with his name worked at the company. Needless to say, I did receive my money back from ServerPronto, and got a nice apology letter in the mail.

Almost forgot to mention that a check on their company in the BBB archives at that time revealed that their mailing address was for an office front only; their real operation is hidden away at a remote site.

SBC DSL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496006)

While this isn't a trial account situation, I went through major hassles with SBC a few years back.

I was one of the first people in the city with DSL. When I moved, I went through the usual for move of service and everything was accepted and told it was available. After I moved, they kept assuring me that they were working on a 'line issue' and would have service to me shortly. Each month they billed me, and each month I called in and got it credited back (about an hour or so phone time each time to do so). AFter three months, they finally admitted they couldn't do it. What was I told?

A) No DSL service would be available in my new area for the foreseable future.
B) They don't do a line reconditioning for residential customers (which would have gotten me service)
C) If I had qualified to have a reconditioning done, it would cost $1200+.

I fought for another 3 months or so to get them to stop billing me for DSL, having to call in and request a refund each time.

This was around August of that year.

The following January, I start getting billed for DSL service again. Out of the blue. I could not even physically get the service, had been told so point-blank months before, and had definitely NOT contacted SBC about getting service again.

It took me until NOVEMBER of that year to get them to stop billing me, and in the end I still lost about $40 that they forced out of my wallet in 'late fees' for this crap.

Not as bad as someone else I know, at least. After having DSL for about two years it turns out they never properly turned off his old dialup account with them. So out of the blue he gets hit with a bill for close to $500 in unpaid services and late fees that he hadn't seen a single bill for until then.

Even with public utility commission orders, they kept turning off his phone service as well as his DSL over this (a federal violation due to the laws that allowed phone companies to get into the internet business). This meant they got hit with a hefty fine by the state each time. He got the FCC involved, and they just shrugged their shoulders and basically said "They saw you owe them money, what's the problem?"

He hasn't had a land line phone service ever since. And to this day SBC still has never released his old phone number back into the pool to be re-used, either, so I'd say they still know they're in legal trouble over it. But at this rate nothing will ever happen.

NetZero and Classmates both owned by United Online (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17496034)

Coinky Dink? I don't think so.

Oh I'll give a shout out to Audible.com: every time I've had to ask them a question they've given me the benefit of the doubt and credited my account. Really good service.

Ebay and ISPs (2, Interesting)

rumplet (1034332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496044)

I signed up for an eBay business account last month, and it got locked almost straight away. I was accused of listing a load of crappy items like fake-ish looking perfume and sports goods, a few days BEFORE I signed up.
After I cleared up the amazing time travelling junk listings, they admitted their dumb mistake but still wouldn't unlock the account. The only response was "We can't unlock the account because if we do then potential scammers will be able to optimize their scamming techniques. eBay works in mysterious ways" (Security though obscurity?)

Even though there was no money involved since I didn't actually list anything, I was pissed because of course I had given them all my personal info, as is necessary with eBay. They gave me the option of giving them even more ID to reactivate (then close) the account, or else boycott eBay forever.

A funny cancelling experience was when I tried to quit a UK ISP and the support guy asked me my password for a joke because it was about 60 random printable ASCII characters, and he wanted to see if I could recite it. I wasn't amused and asked why they didn't hash user passwords. Nice security guys.

Some thoughts (1)

h2g2bob (948006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17496056)

One thing you can try is to write to their customer services (using pen and paper!). Companies hate nothing more than having proof that you said what you did, and the written customer services people always seem to be in a better mood than the telephonists.

If you listen to the audio on this one, it's clear that the customer services guy has a script and is told he must follow it - he might get in trouble if he doesn't. Listening and going "no thanks" to the questions might actually have been quicker than constantly interrupting and getting annoyed. That's not to say it's right, but humans in call centers are sometimes like robots as they follow their scripts.

On the final point on junk mail: in the UK (where I live), if you receive junk mail addressed to you then the Data Protection Act allows you to write to the person who sent it to say "remove me from your mailing list". I think it's similar for all of the EU, but no idea about anywhere else.
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