A lot of our favorite things come from California. Artichokes, Android, almonds, even those newfangled talking pictures. But thanks to a law that recently went into effect in the state, an accidental export might update the cancellation process across the US for recurring payments when it comes to services like newspapers.
California Senate Bill no. 313, which went into effect July 1st, introduces a few new requirements for businesses operating in the state. That includes a change in marketing for "free gift or trial" components associated with automatic renewal or continuous service offers—dictating that the price to be charged after that complimentary component be made more obvious, and specific consent for any promotional or discounted pricing must also be explicitly granted.
The best part of this new law, though, is that the cancellation process must be disclosed before payment, and must match the enrollment vector. In the words of Neiman Lab's Shan Wang: "It bans companies from forcing you to, say, call a hard-to-find telephone number to cancel a subscription that you purchased online," and the bill explicitly states that the mechanism for unenrollment should match enrollment if it took place online:
...a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online, which may include a termination email formatted and provided by the business that a consumer can send to the business without additional information.
That means citizens of the state of California will be able to cancel services like newspapers online, provided they signed up online—though it may end up being simpler for companies to just offer everyone the option, regardless of how they signed up for service or where in the US they are. So we might all benefit from this change, in the end.
- California Legislature
- Neiman Lab