New rule could let you cancel subscriptions with a single click


New rule could let you cancel subscriptions with a single click
The FTC wants to free consumers trapped in subscriptions.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The Federal Trade Commission wants to make cancelling subscriptions as simple as starting them. The US government agency proposed a “click to cancel” rule that would make it easy for consumers to escape recurring subscriptions and memberships.

Apple users can easily leave subscriptions they signed up for thorough the App Store. That’s not necessarily true for ones started elsewhere.

FTC proposes ‘click to cancel’ for subscriptions

The proposed rule takes aim at companies that allow users to sign up for a subscription — usually with a few clicks — but then make consumers jump through hoops to get out. Escaping takes at least a phone call and maybe an in-person visit.

“Some businesses too often trick consumers into paying for subscriptions they no longer want or didn’t sign up for in the first place,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan in a statement. “The proposed rule would require that companies make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up for one. The proposal would save consumers time and money, and businesses that continued to use subscription tricks and traps would be subject to stiff penalties.”

The agency’s recommendation says that if someone can sign up for a service online, there must be an online option to cancel it.

And while companies would be allowed to propose modifications to the subscription when the consumer tries to cancel it, the consumer would have to agree to listen to the pitch beforehand.

In addition, the FTC proposal would require companies to remind customers of the subscription before it is automatically renewed.

Once the notice of this proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register, consumers can submit comments electronically.

It’s easy to dump unwanted App Store subscriptions

The App Store make it a snap for iPhone, iPad and Mac users to see what subscriptions they currently have and what they cost. There’s also that “click to cancel” option the FTC wants for all subscriptions.

Read the Cult of Mac guide to dumping unwanted App Store subscriptions for step-by-step instructions.

Of course, this isn’t a panacea. That subscription you signed up for outside of the App Store for a streaming service, a magazine or a gym membership isn’t included. That’s where the FTC proposal would be useful.


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