THE ART OF THE BAD DEAL

Classmates.com started ten years before Facebook, and in a flush of social media enthusiasm, we signed up. That was a mistake. Last week we tried to get out.

We weren’t trying to get our $39 a year back. Just cancel and stop dinging us with the “auto-renew” feature every year. The site tells you to send an email to their membership team. Joy emailed them twice but got no response – and she carefully checked her spam folder to be sure the cancellation response hadn’t been filtered out. What finally worked was to tell them she writes a technology column. A cancellation message arrived in seconds.

PC Magazine once rated Classmates’ cancellation policy among the worst, and the site has steadily lost members since its heyday several years ago. It is currently embroiled in a lawsuit and paid nearly a million dollars to settle a previous suit. But they still have around four million paid subscribers, so someone has gotten very rich on those automatic annual renewal fees.

The lesson here is: Don’t sign up for automatically recurring charges unless someone puts a gun to your head. If you can’t get any satisfaction, call your credit card company and ask them to assign you a new card number. That way, you can’t be billed on the old card anymore. Our credit card company suggested it, and it was good advice

A few years ago, when PC World Magazine tested several companies to compare their cancellation policies, Classmates.com was judged among the worst.  In short, we and others think it’s a misleading site and deserves to lose members, as it has been for several years. It’s down to around four million paid members and falling rapidly, but that’s still a lot of people. Someone has gotten very rich. Let’s see: four million times $40 a year ….

The lesson here: Do not sign up for automatically recurring charges unless someone puts a gun to your head.

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