Why Is Illinois Only Concerned About Canceling Online Gaming Services?

from the a-bit-narrowly-focused,-don't-you-think? dept

An anonymous reader points us to the news that the state of Illinois has passed a law in response to the complaint of one individual that it was extremely difficult to cancel his online subscription to the game Final Fantasy XI. So, now it's been added to the state's consumer fraud law that any online game needs to offer an easy online way to cancel the service. That's all well and good, but I'm wondering why it's limited only to online games? If you're going to go that far, why not focus on any online subscription service?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Traken, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 9:43pm

    Good question!

    First, this would be a good national law, IMO. Illinois is doing something right with this!

    But I second "why not all subscriptions?" There's been a couple places where I've signed up for a free 7-day trial, and when I went about trying to cancel it, all the website had was "Call this number M-F, 8am-5pm"

    If it takes less than a minute to sign up, it shouldn't take an hour on hold to cancel.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Good question!

    oh come on. you should almost expect this by now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 10:19pm

    I once signed up to a porn site which turned out to be a "trial" subscription for a bigger site that my payment would be automatically upgraded to after a few days (from something like $5 up to $40, automatically).

    Took me ages to track down the way to cancel it, since there was no way to do so from the site itself. I had to track down the payment service they used (which itself wasn't listed on the site), and cancel it from there.

    I was too embarassed to be angry. Aside from that, it was a fairly good con. I was almost proud of them. Luckily, I'm older and considerably wiser now.

    But yeah. That type of thing should probably be illegal, for people who aren't good at the internets.

     

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    Brian, Aug 5th, 2008 @ 11:58pm

    Re: Good question!

    Dude. Have you ever tried to cancel a gym membership? They've got no problem taking your money over the phone right quick. If it involves giving them money, services are available 24/7. However, when it comes to trying to cancel services, you're run around like mad.

    I recently tried to cancel with 24hr Fitness and it took me three bloody days (resulting in another month's charge). I never got the same answer twice. I was thrown around on the phone. Lied to about how to cancel. Hung up on. Given to several recorded messages which hung up on me. Just about everything they could possibly do to make things more difficult, they did. Eventually, I had to go into the gym where I'd originally signed up and force them to cancel my membership. The broad "helping" me would barely look and talk to me and gave me all sorts of attitude before I was finally able to finalize the deal.

    The sad thing is that I had only planned to place my account on hold for a couple months while I found a new job (I'd recently been laid off.) but instead I ended up canceling my subscription forever.

    So definitely, a general law like that mentioned in the above article would definitely be a welcomed one. It would save people a hell of a lot of grief. (I know I felt like bashing heads through walls going through all that.)

     

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    Wolfgang, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 1:57am

    Holy $&*%

    This is new Illinois government doing something right! Can someone check and see if Hell froze over too?

     

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    Todd Loren SInlair, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 3:16am

    Governments involvement in cancellations

    I can see the federal law now ... a 3 day waiting period in case you have "cancelers remorse".

    I think a better law would be to ban "auto renewals".

     

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    Da_ALC, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 3:40am

    I think this is a good start.

     

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    Matt, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:24am

    nothing like bad customer service

    I find it not even remotely ironic that you can cancel your WOW account in about 5 minutes, but FFXI would take you an infinite amount of time. Really reflects on a procedural 'banging your head against the wall' when you're going to have business you're losing forced to talk to customer service and not automate the process.

     

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  9.  
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    DeathtoScaredMommies!, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 4:56am

    Cause of the Scared Mommy Brigade

    They are the root of all that is evil in this world (and not just thier horrific prodigy either). This is just pandering politicians trying to garner some easy "cred" from the scared Mommy brigade, who are not scared about internet applications in general (unless they contain boobies, which aparently are extrememly dangerous to children?), but have endless waking nightmares about video games.

     

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    mojo, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 5:01am

    Re: Governments involvement in cancellations

    And even worse, auto-renewals that are allowed to go to an expired credit card.

     

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  11.  
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    Steve, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 5:44am

    How about getting out of a cell phone contract, ever try that?

     

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    Alessar, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    It's actually very easy to unsubscribe to FFXI, but you have to have the game's (secure) launching client installed to do so. There is no secure web interface for managing payments, and the game and client software aren't available for public download from the web either.

     

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  13.  
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    Joe, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    Re: Good question!

    Another example would be free credit report.com you only get 1 month of free monitoring then you have a monthly fee built in, but you can't cancel online like you sign up, you have to call them up and wait on hold to cancel.

    it's really ridiculous...I think someone can tell how unneeded a service is by how many hoops they make you jump through to cancel.

     

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  14.  
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    Greg, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 6:30am

    Auto Renewals

    You should be bale to to opt in and out of Auto-Renewals instead of being forced into them. I avoid registering at pay sites that only have auto-renewals, no matter how much I might want the service.

     

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    Esahc (profile), Aug 6th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    Contest the Charges

    I had an issue with trial membership one time. I got tired of getting the runaround so I sent the company a letter stating my request for cancellation. When I got charged the next month I contested the charges on my credit card sent them a dated copy of the letter I sent them and they promptly removed the charges from my bill.

    The next month they tried to charge me again, I again contested the charges and they were removed, this time they issued me a new card.

    A month later I received a call from this company. The guy said my account was past due and they were going to cancel my account . . .

    I told him to F**k off, I had canceled the account, and hung up on them.

    I refuse to use trial memberships for this reason.

     

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    Todd, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    we don't need a new law, just don't buy from these companies

    We don't need a law to regulate how a company handles cancellations. All you need to do is look at their reputation, and go from there. If enough people refuse to sign up with companies using these bad practices, they will be forced to change, or go out of business.

     

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  17.  
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    Aaron, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Yes, this is a pain.

    I played FF11 for a month and didn't like it. I guess i messed up and forgot to cancle it.. so i went back to do so later.. WHAT a headache. You cannot do it from the website, and I don't have my game discs anymore. I had to barrow a friends CDs to install the play online service just to cancle my account. I think i ended up still having to call them. They need to make it easier than this. It's ridiculous. Seems like they're going for "If its a pain to cancle, maybe they'll just keep playing!" They need an alternative to either re-installing their software, or spending 30+ minutes on hold.

     

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  18.  
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    Alias, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: we don't need a new law, just don't buy from these companies

    I disagree. When I tried to cancel my Everquest account with Sony about 10 years ago, it was a major hassle. I was on the phone for over an hour, most of it on hold.

    As a consumer, I shouldn't be punished for no longer being interested in a product I may have consumed in the past. When companies go out of their way to make you go out of your way for a simple account cancellation, they should be regulated to bring some sort of standardization to the process. It is a case of the free market apparently failing to provide a good solution to the problem in the first place.

    Well done Illinois' legislature. It's about time.

    I do agree with the author that this should be extended to ANY kind of account. As stated above, we shouldn't be punished because we no longer wish to be customers of a particular business. That's total BS.

    -Alias

     

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  19.  
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    dan, Aug 6th, 2008 @ 6:12pm

    They must have really pissed off someone with politicians for friends. Good for them, I wish I had those friends.

     

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  20.  
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    Truthbringer, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Good question!

    They are owned by the worlds largest credit reporting agency (Experian I believe - which by law has to give you at least one free copy of your credit report a year anyway LOL). So you can rest assured no politician is going anywhere near them.

     

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  21.  
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    Victor, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: we don't need a new law, just don't buy from these companies

    Actually, you have a perfectly excellent means of cancelling your subscription.

    Call up [Visa/Mastercard/Discover/et al] and say "Yes, I'm having difficulty with a merchant, they refuse to respond in a timely fashion about canceling a service I have with them. Could you please stop payment until I can resolve this dispute with them?"

    Trust me, I've had to do it in the past.
    In my case, due to an AOL charge they snuck in with an opt-out thing some years back.

    Your credit card agencies will respond quickly, and merchants will respond even quicker. Too many complaints and CC companies will refuse to do business with them.

    Just don't do that without due diligence in actually trying to deal with the problem by more conventional means.

    Hmm. The Consumerist might also have some insights on the subject.

    Seems that the market has provided several avenues of addressing this problem to me...

     

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