Waking from Subscription Slumber

Have you ever been duped into paying for subscription after you forgot to cancel the free trial? I hate when this happens to me and I recently got tricked again, this time it was by Roadrunner Sports.

A year earlier I had signed up for its VIP service when I bought a pair of running shoes. It made sense to do so because it cost less to purchase the pair with VIP than it would to buy the pair alone. I viewed it as a one-time transaction even though I knew Roadrunner thought differently and had all of the power.

Roadrunner had my credit card info and would automatically renew the subscription forever into the future unless I actively stopped it. Roadrunner certainly wasn’t going to do me the favor of checking with me if I wanted to continue a year later. It would assume that I did.

My experience with Roadrunner makes me generally suspicious of subscriptions. I touched on this topic briefly when writing about renting a habit to form my meditation habit using Headspace.

Most companies automatically renew your subscription. It is in their interest to do so. They will not prompt you to confirm you want to continue. Take for example Amazon Prime. The RabbiI have a friend; let’s call her “Elaine” who currently has Prime solely because she forgot about the signing up for the 30-day free trial until she noticed the $99 charge on her credit card statement.

As you can imagine this annoyed “Elaine” about as much as when her loser friend, let’s call him “George”, got engaged before she did. GeorgeThis was because Amazon did not prompt “Elaine” to choose whether she wanted to continue with Prime. It assumed she did. Now “Elaine” is stuck with the service for a year whether she wants it or not. (I hope she needs $99 worth of 2-day shipping!)

If the company is not going to do us the favor of prompting us to continue with a subscription, what can we do? Fortunately, there is a solution. You can schedule time with your future self shortly before the subscription will be renewed. Both Google Calendar and Outlook’s calendar can send emails and popup messages to your phone at just the perfect moment to wake you from your Subscription Slumber. There’s no excuse to not do this. It takes less than 60 seconds to set up. You just need to make it a habit to set a cancel reminder at the same time you sign up for a subscription.

clock_calendarI want to emphasize picking an appropriate date close to the renewal date. I actually contacted Roadrunner to cancel my subscription a week after signing up, as I knew I would not buy another pair of shoes from it. Roadrunner conveniently ignored this probably hoping I would forget about it and not notice the charge a year later. Choosing to cancel closer the renewal date would have been harder to ignore because it would still be fresh in my memory.

Some companies try to make canceling subscriptions as difficult as possible for the users. Unfortunately, Roadrunner Sports is one of them. It might not be as bad as AOL or Comcast cancellation nightmares you’ve probably heard of, but it was still rather inconvenient. I could not cancel online and had to call its customer service and listen to the operator’s sales pitch to get me to continue before I got a confirmed cancellation number and refunded charge. (Shame on you Roadrunner! At least Amazon lets you cancel Prime online, when you actually remember to cancel.)

Thanks for reading (and letting me vent). If you’ve had similar subscription experiences I’d love to hear them.



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