When you’re buying an online service with automatic annual renewal: When you stop paying means you stop using the service, right?
Wrong! At least, sometimes.
For some companies, it actually may work that way. LinkedIn for example, refunded my friend Melissa (not her real name) who, after she was charged for a new subscription period, told them she did not want to use the membership any longer. One message and – ding ding – Euros back on her account.
Other companies though won’t let go of your cash that easily.
InterNations – social networking site for expats – are a good example.
My friend Ryan (also known as Mr Vig, the most Dangerous English Teacher on the Planet) moved away from Prague half a year ago. Since that happened, he did not use any of the InterNations services. Since he did not need it, he did not use it, he did not pay for it – assuming that would be the end of it.
A few days after the renewal was due, he got a message from the InterNations payments team that he should pay for his renewed membership. Ryan politely replied that was out of town (in fact, out of Europe) for half a year, so he would not need to use the service anymore.
What would you guess was the response?
Let’s say some companies are greedier than others.
A few more months and a few more emails between Ryan and InterNations passed. Then, yesterday, Ryan found an email with the following text in his Inbox:
“If we don’t receive your payment within 48 hours, we reserve the right to sell your debt to an external party, which may result in additional costs for you.
We sincerely hope to avoid taking this step, but as your subscription is a legal contract, we’re required to follow the standard debt collection process under German law.”
For the moment, Ryan takes it with a sense of humor.
But who knows, maybe one day he wakes up and there will be two big men with dark sunglasses and black suits knocking on his door.
Some companies are greedier than others.
If you want to be on the safe side – check where you have a “revolving membership” running. Make adjustments where needed. Maybe unsubscribe – since it’s easy to subscribe again when your current terms comes to an end and you’ll feel you can’t live without it.
It may save you some Euros, Dollars and nerves.
Alternative is getting an open ticket to Argentina.
Just make sure you look good with a mustache.