Once upon a time I subscribed to a magazine I didn’t subscribe because I was interested but instead because the subscription deal was too good to pass up. Who would ever imagine that I could get a subscription to something that appeared interesting and would be delivered to my doorstep each month, in advance, for only $10 a year? It’s a monumental bargain. I remember checking boxes and ordering multiple subscriptions. After all, it’s only $10 a year and they bill you later. This webpage was like catnip for business cats. I took the bait and frolicked in this checkbox wonderland for just enough time to unknowingly obligate me for years to come.
After that fateful, box-checking day I would periodically see a charge hit my credit card for $49. I’d be mad for as long as I could remember it. Like a gym membership that’s more than six months old, I was ready to quit. I didn’t know how they could continue to charge me even though my subscription was done. Yesterday, the answer arrived on the way to the trash.
On what has become my monthly ritual of walking magazines to their landfill transportation, I noticed the cover was different. It was a non-glossy finish and had a different message. It said, “Important Advance Notice” on the front and in the fine print it mentioned, “to our valued automatic renewal customers”.
Finally, the code was cracked! I now knew how the billing worked. I didn’t need to wait for my credit card to expire to get out of this billing conundrum; I could simply log on and cancel at any time. What a breakthrough. I felt like I’d just discovered the cure for hair loss.
I logged on to the most inconsiderate system ever created only to find that the cancel subscription feature wasn’t working. I’d need to call them. That inconvenient, non-functioning cancel button probably made this company millions. Now I had to call on principle.
I get it; businesses are in business to make money. I am too. However, sometimes the logic of hoodwinking customers to get to the bottom line would seem a poor strategy. Instead of a confusing billing cycle, and endless hurdles to getting out of the arrangement, how about better the content and add value? Usually that’s the problem. If you provide value to the customer, you get continuing business. If you don’t, you lose it.