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The FTC wants to make it easier to cancel subscriptions

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday proposed provisions that would remove barriers to canceling recurring subscriptions and payments. The new guidelines would help end “seemingly endless struggles to undo unwanted subscription payment plans,” the FTC said in a statement.

“The proposed rule would require companies to make canceling a subscription as simple as signing up for a subscription,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

Under the rule, companies would be required to let customers cancel a subscription in fewer steps than it took to sign up. They would also be required to obtain permission before displaying additional offers when customers attempt to cancel a subscription and to send annual reminders before automatic renewals occur.

The proposed changes would have broad application, from newspapers to gym memberships, but also “to all subscription features across all media,” according to an FTC fact sheet on the rule (PDF). Subscriptions purchased over the phone, on the Internet, in print or in person would be regulated. Companies should allow cancellation by the same method in the same number of steps or less.

The FTC will be accepting public comments soon, when a 60-day comment window opens.


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