Cancelling Your Subscriptions May Finally Get a Lot Easier

From gym memberships to magazines, the FTC is cracking down on schemes that make it difficult to escape.

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We’ve all been there. You sign up for a gym membership or online delivery service. You eventually lose interest or start tightening your budget, so you try to cancel. Yet, despite it only taking two clicks to sign up, the company requires you to call a hotline in order to escape. The result could end up costing you hours of your precious life waiting on hold or arguing with an employee who has been trained to keep their grip on you.

Well, relief could soon be on the way.

On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission introduced a “click to cancel” policy that would require merchants to allow consumers to cancel their subscriptions in the same way that they signed up. Meaning, if you signed up for a new streaming service online, you should be able to cancel that service on the same website in the same number of steps.

The FTC announced the proposal alongside other new consumer protections designed to prevent unwanted payments. Together, the policies hope to alleviate the thousands of complaints the agency receives each year. 

“Some businesses too often trick consumers into paying for subscriptions they no longer want or didn’t sign up for in the first place,” said FTC chair Lina Khan in a release. “The proposed rule would require that companies make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up for one. The proposal would save consumers time and money, and businesses that continued to use subscription tricks and traps would be subject to stiff penalties.”

The proposal also requires two other stipulations: 

  • It allows businesses to offer other products or services once they’ve canceled, but only with the consumer’s consent. That means no more random pop-ups trying to rope you into other other services when all you want to do is cancel your current one.
  • It also requires merchants to provide an annual reminder of your subscription before they bill you.

The proposals have not been finalized, and you can share your thoughts on them online. Here’s to hoping you can leave your gym membership soon.

This story has been updated. 

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