FTC to crack down on companies that make it difficult to cancel services

(Image: FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission has announced that it will begin stepping up enforcement against companies that manipulate people into starting subscriptions or making it difficult to cancel services. It’s an unforeseen decision that should disappoint almost no one except maybe your cable company.

In a announcement From the end of last month, the FTC said companies that did not obtain informed consent or did not provide clear information initially when selling a service would be considered guilty of ‘using dark models to deceive or trick customers. New agencies enforcement policy statement warns companies involved in such practices that without rapid changes, the FTC can pursue civil penalties, injunctive relief and remedies for consumers. The statement strictly describes what it looks like for a business to obtain customer consent and notify customers in advance of impending charges. It also cautions businesses against using a customer’s silence or omission as permission to continue billing for a service. The new enforcement policy was approved by a 3: 1 vote, with only dissent coming from Commissioner Christine S. Wilson on the basis of a contradiction to open FTC regulation.

The FTC’s public affairs office. (Photo: FTC)

This isn’t the first time the FTC has cracked down on shady subscription practices. In fact, the FTC has been a major factor in trying to prevent such practices for years, having enforced rules against questionable or downright exploitative auto-renewal terms, free conversions, and user interfaces that entice customers to check out. ‘Stick to a subscription even when they want to cancel. The FTC has sued companies for hiding cancel buttons online and forcing customers to listen to long commercials or stay on hold for long periods of time before they can even talk about canceling a plan.

The frustration of how to cancel, say, an internet plan or streaming service is so widespread that it could practically be considered an American rite of passage. Mainstream television incorporated jokes about the whole ordeal in shows like Saturday Night Live and Brooklyn nine-nine, knowing just about anyone watching would be able to figure it out. Of course, a general enforcement threat is different from knocking the hammer down on service providers who like to keep customers on hold, but here’s hoping the experience of pulling your hair out to cancel a service becomes a bit less relevant with the new FTC enforcement policy. .

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