The Golden Rule Of Taking My Money

It’s way too easy to sign up for stuff. It should be just as easy to cancel it.

We’re talking about money a lot today! Well, one more thing. It’s also about seamless transactions.

I bought a $35 traveler pass for GoGo’s in-flight internet on Delta in January, because I had a half dozen flights or so scheduled for work (thanks to layovers) and paying $13 over and over again for internet on the plane would be real dumb. What I didn’t see was that the $35 traveler pass is an automatically recurring subscription fee. Which, you know, my bad. I noticed the charges this month and go to GoGo’s site to cancel, thinking since it’s so seamless to sign up and get dinged for $35 a month, it’ll be just as seamless to cancel — just like it is for basically every other subscription service I’m signed up for at the moment, from Netflix to Rdio to vitamin deliveries from Amazon.

Nope! There is no cancel button on GoGo. You actually have to talk to a representative to cancel it. Gene was a totally helpful human being — he couldn’t refund my 2 months of stealth service, but he gave me a handful of free passes to make up for it, which, it’s true, a cancel button totally wouldn’t have offered to do.

But why not make the cancel process the exact mirror of the signup process? “The company decided for security it was better not to put than option on the site,” Gene told me. Which makes no sense, in any kind of sense, on this plane of existence. If someone snagged my account, I’d be way more upset at some jerky jerk spending hundreds of dollars on in-flight Wi-Fi passes using my credit card — something that it’s totally possible to do — than at them cancelling my service like some consumer advocate vigilante — something that’s impossible to do — since it would’ve sort of saved me money. And worst case, you know, I’d just re-subscribe to the service.

It’s so easy to spend money, so frictionless to sign up for services that slip into your bank account and siphon away a few dollars a month — and it’s only going to get easier — that there needs be something like a Golden Rule of Transactions: It should be just as easy to cancel a service as it is to sign up. If there’s a sign up button, there should be a cancel button. Or maybe we should have to talk to a rep when we think we want to re-subscribe to Netflix’s disc delivery service. We might think twice about chucking another subscription on the pile.

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