California law makes it easier to cancel auto-renewing subscriptions

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Bottom line: You’ll no longer have to hunt for an obscure telephone number and talk to a customer service rep who will repeatedly try to get you to keep the subscription. Sign up when you want and disconnect when you’re ready. Period.

The process of signing up for online subscriptions to digital newspapers and streaming services is intentionally made as frictionless as possible. Companies know that if there are too many steps involved, it’s too complicated or it’s perceived to take too long, consumers are less likely to conduct business with them.

The same can be said of the cancellation process – if it isn’t straightforward enough or is too time consuming, users are more likely to push it back to a later date or maybe even forget about it entirely. It’s a slimy practice and one that will no longer fly in The Golden State.

A California law that went into effect July 1 addresses the matter. California Senate Bill No. 313, which covers “any business that makes an automatic renewal or continuous service offer to a consumer in this state,” mandates that a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the service exclusively online.

The new law also extends to companies that lure consumers in with trial memberships or free gift offers. In these instances, the offer must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of the price that will be charged after the trial ends and disclose how to cancel before the trial period ends.

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