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Autorenewed for ....my convenience???

I recently purchased a subscription to a some what popular dating site that will remain nameless in this post. ;) I could begin a discourse on the various dating sites online but that isn't the focus of this post. This post is about a particular aspect of their subscription service that I've noticed in other web sites that offer services on a subscription basis. Namely, the "auto renew" option that many offer after the term of your purchase are complete. Almost everyone automatically renews the subscription once the payment term is complete "for your convenience" ...this always pissed me off. It pissed me off because anyone who is aware of what is going on knows that "your convenience" is the furthest thing from the site owners mind in providing this autorenew feature. It works something like this. People tend to behave very impulsively online, they shoot from one site to the next, often you find yourself surfing for hours and at any given minute not quite knowing how you got to a particular website. Along with this comes a tendency to buy things that maybe you would not even come across had you not been bouncing around doing your random surfing. Coming across sites that offer subscription services , be it for dating or some other service and tempted to sign up just to test the service is something I've wanted to do many times...but always that auto renew "convenience" waits to bite you at the end of the month ...when you've completely forgotten about the site. This is what the site owners really want, by requiring that you explicitly cancel the act of automatically paying them on a recurring basis they ensure that if you forget you pay them anyway. Usually, they tie this with "no refund" statements in their terms of use which conveniently I am sure , gets them thousands of dollars of over month subscriptions from people that failed to "cancel" at the end of the month. Such a practice itself does have some benefit I am sure to some people but I've noticed that every implementation of "auto renew" I've come across doesn't have the delivery of a friendly email say to warn you that your term is about to expire and then autorenew, that's the least they could do if they are about to extract some money from your credit card right???

Recently I've implemented the payment processing for services that I offer on the collaboration web site I am about launch, I have no auto renew option on the site. Instead I let the term of the plans expire, the next time the User logs in they will be redirected to the terms page to purchase an extension to their existing account (no need to recreate a new one) ...this solves the problem that forcing payments from those user that may not want to resubscribe for additional terms, it also gives those that do the option of extending their plan the next time they come in to use the service. It turns out that omitting the option makes my payment processing logic easier as well, I don't have to store renew information with a payment processor (most third party processors offer this service) and that reduces the necessary communications between my servers and the payment processor that could cause some pathology during the payment and confirmation process. At the same time, and most importantly to me, I don't have to subtly lie to my customers , telling them that autorenew is for their convenience when really it would be mostly for mine. (to fish money out their pockets while they sleep)

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