Europe’s latest rulebook for the Internet may finally help with a nagging problem for online service subscribers – the ability to cancel a subscription quickly.
The Digital Services Act now promises to outlaw the practice of “making the process of terminating a service more difficult than signing up for it.”
In practice, this could mean that companies that allow you to take out a paid subscription to something online may soon have to allow you to cancel it online in the same way.
Such a measure has already been enacted in some US states. This is also generally the practice for the biggest online services like Netflix and Spotify.
However, with hundreds of other online subscriptions, companies are allowed to require subscribers to contact the provider by phone or email to explain why they want to cancel, which is sometimes subject to a marketing retention process that can take hours or days.
In its amendments to the Digital Services Act, the European Parliament says such practices are “exploitative” and unfair, describing them as part of a broader set of “dark patterns” used by businesses to “deny autonomy, decision-making and… affecting choice”. ” of online subscribers.
In Ireland, how to cancel a service varies greatly between providers. Broadband, TV and media companies require subscribers to use phone or email even if they have accepted the subscription online. Ireland’s largest pay-TV provider, Sky, has a ‘how to cancel’ website which does not provide an email address or phone number.
While cloud services like Google, Dropbox, and Apple allow cancellation with a few taps or clicks, Amazon lets users cycle through multiple screens with multiple alerts.
The Digital Services Act is currently in its final phase of negotiations between the European Commission and individual EU countries after passing through the European Parliament.
The Commission’s antitrust vice-president, Margrethe Vestager, said last week she hoped it could be signed this month.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/news/eu-push-to-make-it-easier-to-cancel-online-subscriptions-41527938.html EU pushes to make it easier to cancel online subscriptions