Award-winning author, dynamic keynote speaker, trusted advisor, & workplace tech expert 


Cancellation and the Social Customer

Why do some companies make it so hard to cancel or opt out?
Sep | 30 | 2010


Sep | 30 | 2010

It’s time for a good old-fashioned bitch session. Now, I really can’t complain too much in the whole scheme of things. The New Small is coming along nicely and will hit its November publication date. I shot a legitimate 85 this year on the golf course–a personal best. I have my health. The last thing that you’ll ever hear me say is “Whoa is me.” But you don’t want to read a post about all that’s right in the World of Phil.

While life is good, I’m a bit peeved about a trend that hasn’t abated over the last few years: Many companies intentionally make it excessively difficult to cancel services.

Opting Out

Consider the following examples:

  • XM Radio makes it really easy to sign up. In fact, when you lease certain cars, you get a three month trial version. Try canceling, though. At least a few years ago, I had to call a 1-800 number. I then needed to select from a number of options, no doubt with customers who chose “cancellation” queued well behind new customers. Of course, after speaking to a rep, I was still billed next month. I had to contact my credit card company after seeing another charge appear on my statement.
  • – This site has its own byzantine approach to discourage you from canceling. It’s about an eight step process. Laughably, the site’s “Cancel Cancellation” button is hard to miss during this process, while “continue with cancellation” is intentionally minimized.
  • Unnamed Aggregator – I used to syndicate my posts with one site. (I won’t name it here.) For a variety of reasons, I decided that I no longer wanted them to post my insights. I wanted to opt out. While adding an RSS feed was extremely easy on this site, for, er …technical reasons …those feeds could not be removed. (Yeah, that’s the ticket.) I actually had to contact the site and request this. And then I had to do this again for one of its sister sites.

Simon Says

Look, this isn’t new. It’s not like that is a relatively recent phenomenon. And, what’s more, I understand why this these sites make it hard for you to opt out or cancel: the almighty dollar. This isn’t rocket science. Sites such as offer the convenience of 1-click purchases. I can understand why 1-click cancellation doesn’t exist. But there’s a limit to how difficult this process ought to be.

We live in the age of the social customer. People talk, vent, bitch, and moan. Why risk irritated your customers and ex-customers? Wouldn’t you want to make it as easy as possible for them to come back? Aren’t you engendering enmity with these type of maddening processes?

What are your own cancellation nightmares?

Go Deeper

Receive my musings, news, and rants in your inbox as soon as they publish.


 Blog E Social Media E Cancellation and the Social Customer


Comments close 180 days after post publishes.


Blog E Social Media E Cancellation and the Social Customer

Next & Previous Posts