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Proposed law would help you cancel shady subscriptions
- Senators have put forward the Unsubscribe Act to help you cancel dodgy subscriptions.
- The bill would require transparency and make it easier to quit once a trial period is over.
- The would-be law has bipartisan support.
Have you ever been tricked into paying for a subscription? You might have an easier time backing out in the future. A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced the Unsubscribe Act, a bill that would make it easier to cancel a subscription or even avoid it in the first place.
The proposed law would require that internet services and other subscription providers offer a clear sense of the contract terms you’re agreeing to, and to get your “informed consent” before you subscribe. They would also have to make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it was to sign up. Companies would have to clearly warn when your free or low-cost trial period is nearing its end, giving you time to leave before you have to pay.
Providers would be banned from automatically transferring you to subscriptions lasting longer than one month. They would also have to periodically remind you of the terms of your contact, including how to cancel your subscription if you’re unhappy.
Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Thune (R-SD), Raphael Warnock (R-GA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) are the key backers. A counterpart House bill is also coming from a Democrat-led group of seven representatives.
As Engadget noted, the senators wrote the bill in response to an “exploding” subscription market where some companies rope you into paying through deceit and opaque practices. You shouldn’t have to “jump through hoops just to cancel [a] subscription,” Senator Schatz said.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get to cancel any subscription as easily as you would your Netflix or Amazon account. The legislation has to survive both the Senate and the House before President Biden can sign it into law. The broader support in the Senate gives the Unsubscribe Act a stronger chance of success than some bills, though. If it does become law, you might see cloud or streaming services come clean about their business models — and remind you that there should always be an easy way out.