Consumer Complaints: Automatic renewal tricks

I hate the sneaky little tricks that companies use to make you do business with them, even when you don't want to. There are plenty of services and software programs that allow consumers to renew their subscription automatically... just check the box! That's convenient when you want to renew. Not so convenient if you don't want to renew and forgot that you checked the box.

What about those subscriptions that you didn't even know you were going to automatically renew? I stopped using Norton Antivirus by Symantec months ago on all my computers because it was using too much memory and slowing things down. I found a much better option, and promptly uninstalled all copies of Norton. I thought I was done with Norton forever.

Until a charge showed up on my credit card this week for a subscription renewal. What? I didn't renew anything. I haven't even used the software for months. How could this happen?

A little trip to their website and some time wasted watching their fancy videos helped me figure it out. Symantec wants to make it easy for us to keep using their services. So once you purchase a subscription with a credit card, they're automatically going to charge you again each year. Forever. If you want out, you've got to tell them you want out.

I hate these "opt out" services. You're automatically in unless you say you want out. That's not customer service. It should be the other way around. When you're messing with my money, you should ask me first if I want to be in. Not do one of these sneaky things where I have to figure out how to opt out of getting this charge every year.

I am now trying to get the charge reversed on my credit card. We'll see how well that goes. Note to Symantec: You got me. What a horrible policy. But very lucrative for you, for sure.

Have you been cheated, scammed, or otherwise disappointed by a company? WalletPop wants your real life consumer complaints and scam stories Email us with your story.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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