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"Click-to-Cancel" rule aims to make unsubscribing less of a pain

It's unknown when the ruling will be published in the Federal Register.

Published onMarch 23, 2023

  • The FTC has proposed a new rule to simplify canceling recurring subscriptions.
  • The commission voted 3-1 in favor of the proposal.
  • If enacted, the rule would require businesses to make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it was to sign up.

The days of jumping through hoops to unsubscribe from recurring subscriptions may almost be over. A new ruling could change the way businesses handle subscription cancelations.

Today the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed and voted on a new rule called “Click-to-Cancel,” according to NBC News. If enacted, the ruling would require businesses to simplify the steps needed to cancel a subscription. Specifically, these companies would need to make unsubscribing as easy as it was to sign up.

How businesses conduct subscription cancellations has been a problem for a while now. Although some companies may make canceling simple, many more intentionally make the process as inconvenient as possible. The FTC even says that it receives thousands of complaints from consumers every year about being charged without consent or having difficulties with the cancelation process.

To this, FTC Chair Lina Khan provided her own examples of such business practices, highlighting gyms that require members to come in person in order to cancel. Khan also mentioned cellphone companies that require you to call a custom service representative “who will keep you on the line to try to convince you to stay.”

After proposing the rule, the commission voted 3-1 in favor of the ruling. The lone detractor was Commissioner Christine Wilson who disagreed with the proposal, claiming it was too broadly written.

In addition to requiring businesses to simplify the cancelation process, the ruling would force businesses to ask consumers first if they want to hear about other offers before offering them. They would also have to provide annual reminders to the consumer about their subscriptions before automatically renewing them.

Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, the public will have an opportunity to submit comments during the following 60 days. At this moment, a spokesperson for the FTC says officials don’t know when the ruling will be published.

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