I think most consumers have had at least one frustrating phone call exchange with a company, trying to cancel a service that was so easy to sign up for online, but find themselves running into roadblocks when trying to end that same service. Thanks to a new-CALPIRG backed law that just went into effect on July 1st in California, many companies who offer services online have to give consumers the option to cancel those services online, too.
SB 313, authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, sponsored by our allies at the Consumer Federation of California, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall, requires that as of July 1, 2018, companies that provide easy online sign-up for services must provide the same ease for cancelling those services online, too. The new law also establishes new requirements for companies that sign customers up for auto-renewal services to make sure consumers are clear on the terms before they sign up.
The news industry is reportedly making changes in response to this new law to allow cancellations online. Even the New York Times used to make consumers call to unsubscribe.
Unfortunately cable companies and Internet service providers are exempt from the bill’s requirements. Comcast in particular is notorious for trying to keep consumers from cancelling. Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto tried and failed to pass a bill focused on their industry in 2016. But hopefully, by establishing a strong precedent in SB 313 for most businesses, we can expand the policy to include ISPs and cable companies in the future.