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Losing the Will to Cancel

Leaving an online service. Easy right? Well, that’s what you would imagine from a company based wholly on the Internet and that’s how it should be. In fact, I think leaving any service should be a painless experience as surely that’s what will bring back past customers. Online or not.

With a tip of my cap to Carl‘s great article and after reading PC World‘s critique in the same vein I feel compelled to write a small piece on cancelling services. Oh how I weep.

Saving £40 a month on car insurance is a nice prospect, and that’s what I found out I could do after getting a new quote a few days ago. Calling up my future insurer and passing on all my details in order to start the process I was told (in the verbal small-print) that if I cancel before 12 months is up I will be charged a cancellation fee of one month’s service.

I paused thinking about whether or not my current provider would do this and asked them to hold. After finding the offending piece of paper I realised that this fine would be imposed but after a quick calculation I continued. I would still save money even with the fee.

Cancelling my old insurance and paying the fine was all that was left for me to do. If only it was that easy. After calling the insurer and speaking to a representative I was forwarded to the ‘Cancellations Department’. 21 questions and 10 minutes later I was free of the old insurance – but not after getting very frustrated with the service.

This wasn’t online though, so have another example.

LoveFilm – an online DVD rental service – have a just as complicated cancellation service. After going through a number of cancellation pages and ‘Continue’ button presses I am informed to call a representative. Doing so results in a similar experience which I decide to forgo. I am determined to find an easier way.

Still a member of LoveFilm, I discover that you can cancel online – but only between the hours of 10pm and 8am when their cancellation webpage changes. Why do companies do this? Backwards logic is the simple answer. Read the above references for some good spiel on the practice. Using these companies again is something I won’t be doing, that’s for sure. Admittedly I wasn’t going to go back to my old insurer but my online DVD rental service – I was planning on coming back for another year once I’ve bought myself a new DVD player after my current one broke.

The bottom line: make it easy and we’ll be back. Make it difficult or expensive to leave and we won’t be back.

Your loss. My £13.99 a month. Hasta la vista, amigo.