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Having problems canceling a service? Check out these tips

Phone man Holds Phone and Looks Angry Brown Background-g96c0c2b3c_640When I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile, it wasn’t a problem to cancel once I finally got the correct information on what to do.

However, some consumers have found it difficult or nearly impossible to cancel a service because companies illegally trick or trap people who use their services.

An example is Vonage, a phone company that didn’t give customers an easy way to cancel their services.

Vonage used hurdles called “dark patterns” that made people: hunt for the cancellation phone number; go from agent to agent with repeated sales pitches when they called; and pay high early termination fees when they cancelled, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday in a settlement with Vonage. Even when people navigated Vonage’s process and canceled their accounts, Vonage continued to charge them without permission in many cases.

As part of the settlement, Vonage will pay $100 million that the FTC will send to the small businesses and customers who were harmed by the company’s practices.

When you sign up for a product or service, find out the company’s policies on:

  • Easy and simple cancellation. Is it as easy to cancel as it is to sign up? Before you order, look at the company’s refund and return policies, and whether you’ll be charged any cancellation fees.
  • Automatic renewal. When you know you don’t want to renew your plan, look at the company’s cancellation policy. Make sure it won’t automatically renew before you can cancel it. For more on avoiding renewal charges, click here.


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Useful information, thanks. One of my office mates had Vonage, their customer service was difficult to deal with--she eventually switched to a different VOIP phone service because of increasing difficulties w/the system itself and lack of reponsiveness & helpfulness of customer service/tech support.

Does the information linked to about autorenewals apply only to utilities (like cellphone service)? I've found it's difficult to avoid autorenewals for digital subscriptions to newspapers or news media--or to opt out of auto renewals. When I had a business account w/an marketer (yellow pages listings), because my account was below $x/month, I could NOT opt out of autorenewal although I'd asked to opt out. I assume it's ok if it's a business account, i.e, less protection then for "consumers" although it's not like small businesses have much leverage w/the corporations providing yellow pages listings (physical & online), since that 'sector' has consolidated too.

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

I have never had Vonage but am seriously thinking of switching from Verizon to T Mobile. Good advice.



The FTC offers these three things to keep in mind about auto-renewals:

1. Before a company can auto-renew your subscription, it has to send you a renewal notice. This isn’t a bill or an invoice, so it shouldn’t ask for your credit card information. A renewal notice is simply a reminder about when your subscription expires and that you’ll be automatically charged when it does.

Tip: If you get a renewal notice that asks for your credit card information, stop. Read the notice carefully. The company may be trying to get you to renew an old subscription that you canceled. Or it could be a scammer lying about the renewal notice to get your credit card information.

2. Check that the cost is what you expected. Sometimes when the renewal automatically happens, you’re charged more than you were last time. This can happen if you initially had a promotional rate. When you get your renewal notice, read it closely to confirm that the rate you’re getting is what you expected. If it isn’t, or if the notice doesn’t say how much you’ll pay, call the company right away. See if they can lower the rate or cancel your subscription, if that’s what you want.

Tip: Sometimes you can cancel a subscription and re-subscribe for a better promotional rate. Just make sure that you know exactly when that promotional period ends, and mark it on your calendar. Also be clear when and how much you’ll be charged when the promotion ends.

3. Scammers sometimes send fake renewal notices to get your financial information. If you get a renewal notice for a subscription you don’t have, it’s probably from a scammer or a dishonest company trying to get you to give them your credit card number or other personal information. Don’t call the number on the notice or click on any email or text message link.

Tip: Search online for the company name with the words “scam” or “complaint” to see if other people got the same fake renewal notice. If it’s a company you do business with, contact the company at a number you know is correct to see if the renewal notice is real. Otherwise, just ignore it.

As you can see from the FTC advice above, you're supposed to be notified when the auto-renewal renews. It sounds like the company you were signed up with, didn't follow the law.



I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile because Verizon wouldn't give me a deal on an iPhone 12. I had problems getting the new plan set up because the kids at T-Mobile were sloppy with details. However, everything is working pretty well now.

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