Why it’s sometimes so hard to cancel memberships and subscriptions online | NOW

With prices rising, it’s a good time to take a closer look at your fixed costs. For example, you may have current subscriptions that you barely use. But it’s still difficult to cancel memberships and subscriptions online. Why is it so difficult? And what can you as a consumer do about it?

The mother of Menno Steen from Amsterdam supported at least eight charities until her death last year. “I was able to cancel the majority online, but with a few they weren’t happy with the information provided. Then I was told they couldn’t stop the recovery without the original death certificate or authorization. That while I only had a copy.”

He calls himself sleepy several times to get it fixed. “When they finally succeeded, sometimes they continued to charge money even after the cancellation,” he says. “All in all, something you don’t expect at all in such a sad situation. It felt very strange. Then you think: be grateful that my mother has supported you for so long. That way, the loyal donors are left to suffocate.”

Change can be seen in charities

In April, the Consumers’ Association looked at how easy it is to cancel online at 123 different companies. It was too difficult for every fourth company. This was also investigated in 2020. done Then every third company made it difficult or impossible. As a result of the research, a number of companies immediately adapted their websites and many charities pledged to improve.

“It’s great that, according to the Consumers’ Association, there is a particularly visible turnaround in charities,” says Margreet Plug, director of Charity Netherlands. “Nine of the eleven charities that the Consumers’ Association has approached now clearly state that you can cancel online.”

“We advise charities, among others, to make the online cancellation page clear and easy to find.”

Margreet Plug, director of Charity Holland

“Among other things, we advise charities to make the online cancellation page clear and easy to find. In case of cancellation, this must be confirmed in writing or by email by the charity,” she continues.

But especially many energy, telephone and internet companies still make it difficult or even impossible for consumers to cancel online. This is about a quarter of the companies that offer their services online.

“By doing this they are violating Wet van Dam”, says spokesman for the Consumers’ Association, Gerard Spierenburg. “According to this law, you must be able to cancel in the way you took out the subscription. This is confirmed by the supervisory authority of the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

Corporate tricks and business models

Still, many companies try to get out of that obligation with all sorts of tricks. But why is it made so difficult? “The logical assumption is because they don’t want to lose you as a customer,” says Spierenburg.

“It’s easier for them to persuade you to remain a member or sponsor over the phone.”

Gerard Spierenburg, Consumers’ Association

“They pretend that canceling is a complicated process, they threaten a longer processing time when canceling online, or they claim that calling is the fastest or best way,” explains Spierenburg. Charities also often play on consumer guilt.”

Nibud spokesperson Gabriëlla Bettonville warns consumers about the financial commitment you take on with a new subscription or donation. “It is certainly wise in these times to be critical of your expenses. Be aware that it remains an organization’s revenue model. Think to yourself: do I want to pay for it or can I do without it?”

She advises people to go through the administration every year. “For example, in a quiet moment this summer. Grab your payment app and your credit card and check all charges. Decide if there are subscriptions you want to adjust or rather cancel.”

Five tips for canceling your membership, subscription or charity

  • 1. Before closing, also check the general terms and conditions if you wish to cancel. Don’t forget the fine print.
  • 2. Before withdrawing, convert the monthly costs into an annual amount. A few kroner a month doesn’t sound like much, but on an annual basis you may be shocked by the amount.
  • 3. Store all documents about your subscriptions carefully in your administration.
  • 4. Write a note in your calendar when you take out a subscription. Set a reminder in your calendar before the end date.
  • 5. When you cancel, you must ask for written confirmation by email or post. Then you have proof of it in black and white.

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