Subscription-Based Corruption


How many subscriptions do you have, that just keep taking $ each month, that you don’t actually use?

And how do we the people put a stop to this trend toward “forced” subscription to services…? (Ok - it’s nothing new, but seems to be growing…)

Just reading @avolve talking of requiring c/card details for a free trial… No doubt if you forget to cancel you’ll automatically be charged each month for their full service, just as happens with things like XBox Game Pass, etc etc etc. (Well in that case - I just paid $1 for 3 months, and after that it will continue to charge at $16/month until I remember to cancel it.)

or… software such as MS Office now on subscription - I might only use Excel in my home life for a few hours a year, and yet they want people to go on subscription… (ok - I see I can still buy it as stand alone… but still!)

Gym memberships…! It was even a joke on Bobs Burgers - the gym owner said he was happy to have people join the gym and not attend, as he didn’t have enough space/equipment/staff to cover if everyone actually made use of their membership. How many gym memberships do people take out, and never use?

Or what really annoyed me recently… My wife got roped into a monthly nail subscription - those vinyl stickers to make your fingernails look pretty… with a % going to support a wildlife rescuer friend of hers. Bu when she ended up with more vinyl nail thingies than she could poke a stick at - to cancel her membership they wanted a pint of blood, so instead my wife reduced her cart to 1 strip, the minimum you could set it to (you couldn’t do $0), and for 6 months or so, each month they posted out that 1 pack of nails, til I had enough and sent them a nicely worded email stating that whilst they may be from the US, Australian Consumer Law didn’t allow complicated cancellations… How many people however get hooked in these “traps”?

This method of wealth creation really annoy me, as it’s so wasteful. Great for the people doing it! But not great for those who end up with a subscription to something that gets forgotten or just put in the too hard basket… Basically one of the worst sides of Capitalism… I wonder if China has an equivalent.



Ancestry has a particularly extensive way of cancelling. The first time I cancelled, I thought that was the end of it…but it wasn’t… you have to keep confirming on one page after another… if you don’t get right to the end, you’ll be hit again for another fee. I’ve learned their tricks and I now cancel my sub about a week after taking it, just to be sure. You do get a confirming email once its all done. If you don’t get it, you’re not unsubbed.

I periodically go through my subs taken via Apple, and cancel the ones I no longer want.

Wow, that really sums up my concerns!

The US needs to legislate easier cancellations, like how they enforced easy unsubscribing from emails. Sure - some of them are still a bit of a pain, but mostly now it’s easy to get off a “proper” email subscription list.

Ones that cost you money should have the same - better - ease of removal.

I cancelled my Apple News subscription a couple of months ago. I’m thinking about canceling my Apple Music subscription as well. I have a few others also but I use them quite often.

Providing credit card details for a trial is annoying but nothing new. It’s the new and virtual gym membership that sucks you of money with little to nothing in return.

We use MS Office at work. I do not personally own or subscribe to MS Office. I do however use Google Sheets extensively.

I’ve subbed to some streaming services for their free period, used it for what I needed and cancelled a few days before I would be charged. It’s so annoying that everything is spread over so many services, and now sport is going the same way: Foxtel/Kayo, Stan Sport, Optus Sport, Apple TV+, Paramount+ and I read that even Amazon Prime is starting to show sport in Australia.

Years ago, you could subscribe to Ancestry online, but cancelling was only possible via a phone call to the USA. It would take a great deal to convince them to cancel your subscription.

The last time I subscribed (2020) was via their iPad app. It was easy to cancel. From memory it was like canceling any other app subscription.

This from just last year:

Basically, the ACCC’s view is that it should be as easy to withdraw from a subscription as it was to sign up.

But that said - it’s still going to fall on customers to take businesses to task if they are making it hard…

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Regarding MS Office subs, if your workplace has an enterprise license, in many cases they are eligible for employees to leverage their HUP (Home Use Program). I have used it at several employers. Allows you to purchase a perpetual license for Office rather cheap ($20-$30 from memory).

Worth checking out.

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Alas that was phased out some years ago, and now it’s simply a discounted rate on Office 365 subscription

Bugger. At least there’s a discount.

I only use Office apps when i have to for my work. I much prefer Keynote, Pages & Numbers.

I have (some) Office on my MBP installed via different jobs.

Hoping back to the OP, I very much do not like and avoid handing over as much personals details as possible when signing up for any kind of trial. They only ask to catch you out, make it hard-ish to cancel and make whatever they can on those that fail to unsubscribe (r chase up refunds). Just another example of the neoliberal interwebs

We all have experienced that privacy is rare with data as a commodity these days, and security online itself is in many ways a misnomer…

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I will never forget working with a young lady back in QLD who had ended up with a “black mark” against her credit history (I think it was a phone bill issue, but forget now…) When she and her husband wanted to buy a house, the majors wouldn’t touch them, so they were “forced” to go with some obscure finance company that basically had them over a barrel with high rates and fees, plus heavy penalties to leave them…

Not directly related to the above issue, but this was a pretty smart lady who had unfortunately made a couple of bad choices and it was costing her terribly.

There should be more education in school for how to handle money, budgeting, etc etc. Some people really struggle with this side of life, and the likes of these subscriptions… and now things like AfterPay etc… are all heading toward a mountain of debt and defaults.

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