FTC says “click to subscribe, call to cancel” is illegal

Originally published at: FTC says "click to subscribe, call to cancel" is illegal | Boing Boing


I can’t wait to read the news about enforcement!
Scared Still Waiting GIF by Looney Tunes


Uh - I don’t get it. What’s so difficult about simply cancelling payments?

Have you ever tried to cancel a SiriusFM subscription? You have to call them on the phone and beg a skilled retention specialist. That’s if you can even talk to someone on the phone. I once tried for weeks to cancel my SiriusFM subscription but I could never reach a live person to help me. I’d get placed on hold for 45 minutes and the phone line would go dead. I finally paid a service that specialized in canceling SiriusFM subscriptions to do it for me.

If they didn’t answer the phone, here in UK I’d simply cancel my subscription payment from my bank. Even if it were a direct debit that the company can enact, I’d tell the bank it was now void and they were not to honour it any more. Even if the bank insisted that I must first tell the company with the DD mandate, I’d tell them I had. An email to a suitable address CC’d to the bank would do.

I’m guessing US banking works differently and with fewer consumer protections?


Having gone through the same thing, I considered doing it, however sometimes the bank will determine you have an active contract and continue to allow it to be paid.

I’ve cancelled the service twice and would never go back mainly because of this. Also the pricing model is nuts, but knowing that I’m in for an hour wait to fight with someone to go through their entire script to beg me not to cancel.


Yeah, like I said - ‘fewer consumer protections’. It is NOT the function of a bank to determine if there is a contract. It is for one of the parties to decide there is and it has been breached and seek to enforce it.

I appreciate it is easy to say this from a UK armchair, but if my bank did that to me, I’d be finding a new bank the next day.


Wonderful news. This has continued for far too long!

If Paypal is an option for subscriptions I tend to use that, because you can cancel from Paypal’s site without the run-around.


The New York Times an undeniable trade mark of Truth Justice & the American way. And f’ them to hell.


Just to note, it’s SiriusXM not SiriusFM


You’re not Sirius, are you?


This. I wanted to cancel payments on something I no longer agreed to and the bank said it would only do so if the charge was fraud.


Retention Specialist, retain thyself!


If you no longer have an agreement, then all additional charges are fraudulent.

Did you explain to the bank that they’re conducting fraud on an attacker’s behalf?


In the UK, there has only been protection against this sort of nonsense since 2017.

That’s when rules were put in place to enable to consumer to stop recurring charges against debit or credit cards. Before then, if a business had a Continuous payment authority against your card, they were the only ones that could cancel it. Before then, there were protections against the abuse of regular payments set up as Direct Debits but not those set up by the use of payment cards.


Great. Maybe the ACLU will finally update their page so I can cancel my monthly donation instead of having to call them. Same situation as the New York Times.

Update: nope, I still have to call them. Guess enforcement isn’t going to be a priority for the FTC.


Yes. I have never knowingly allowed a Continuous Authority on a credit card, only Direct Debits on a bank account. The Direct Debit guarantee in the UK is a good one.

1 Like

AOL was the worst. I did some side consulting when I was young, and I had a fairly wealthy couple pay me a good hourly rate to stay on speak phone and talk them through canceling dialup.

After that Sirius was cake. Maybe half or a third of the effort.


To be fair, the rule appears to be only 20 days old. I haven’t read the rule yet, but usually they have a compliance period to allow good faith actors to comply with the rule, after which they begin enforcement.

But yeah, given how underfunded the FTC is, and the regulatory capture that has occurred, I’m not holding my breath.


You have to practically write the FTC and beg them to sue you, even then they probably won’t. I’ve seen people I usually respect publicly say they weren’t going to comply with FTC guidelines because the FTC enforcement is so lax.


Correct guess. Our accounts are protected from fraud/interception/etc… but there are no protections around any payments that we have performed or authorized to be performed. Beyond that, even if we could call our bank or a credit card issuing bank and tell them to no longer honor a recurring charge, the company issuing such charges would continue billing and charging fees for the uncancelled account and eventually refer it to a 3rd party collections agency (who have even less restraints put upon them than do banks). Our only recourse is to go through the hellish process of contacting the company itself to cancel the account itself. Banks here are very much “not our problem” about anything other than fraud (unless you have credit with them and miss a payment, and then they care very much).