ESPN: You guys are a piece of work

This is the kind of shady billing that really chaps my hide.

ESPN INSIDER FORCES SUBSCRIPTION AUTO-RENEW
If you sign up for "ESPN Insider", they actually force you to auto-renew.  This means that one day, you look at your credit card and you see $49 charge from ESPN on there.  No email notification, no nothing.

ESPN.com will automatically renew and charge a Customer’s account as follows:
* Once per month for a Monthly Subscription
* Once every six (6) months for a Six-Month Subscription
* Once per year for an Annual Subscription

I’ve NEVER heard of this.  Usually, they make auto-renewal an optional element of membership for convenience, (in the form of a checkbox or some kind of indicator stating that that was your will) but subscription services NEVER automatically force people to perpetually auto-renew.

NO WAY TO CANCEL ONLINE
And not only do they basically just take your money automatically, then they have no way on their web site of "canceling" your account.  They take the tact of basically making it difficult to cancel your account through obscurity.  I challenge you to try to figure out how to unsubscribe.

I did an Internet search and turned up a phone number to call.

Call 1-888-549-ESPN to cancel an account.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?page=help/insider/faq#cancel

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10 Responses to ESPN: You guys are a piece of work

  1. Jeremy says:

    On the plus side, your blog was the internet search where I was able to find this number. I love how they take the same tactic some of the sleaziest business take (like credit protection).

  2. Kurt says:

    Glad to have helped. These sort of lock-you-in-by-frustration-and obfuscation tactics need to be held to the light for what they are: Shady, consumer-unfriendly business practices. ESPN – you guys should be ashamed of yourselves. Resorting to such bush league tactics as this – the same crap that AOL uses to prevent users from "unsubscribing from their service" – really ought to be beneath you.But I guess it isn\’t. You guys are just the "AOL" of online sports.

    • Scott says:

      ESPN has actually never been a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Disney. The Hearst Corporation owns 20%. Hearst bought the stake from ABC before ABC was acquired by Disney.

      • kurtsh says:

        That’s true and it’s since been edited in my comment, appreciate the correction. And if this is the Scott McCarthy that I think it is, I actually respect that you read my post & tempered your response: As you can see, at the time I was pretty upset. I unsubscribed from Insider a while back and really hope that things have changed since then. I can’t say that, despite WANTING to become a subscriber, that I’d return without some sort of documentation that this perpetual renewal thing would be something I’d have to worry about without having to resort to something like one-time-use credit card numbers. I subscribe to two other more expensive annual Sports services and renew every year so this this is simply a matter of principle – not cost.

  3. I went through a similar experience. Signed up for a mid-season “special” and ended up with an auto-renewal that I didn’t authorize. Called the number above and had them cancel the auto-renewal. They also offered to cut the price of the subscription to “Insider” in half if I kept it.

  4. Devin says:

    The worst part is that if you have a multiple year ESPN the Magazine subscription, they will still charge you $49.99 to renew your insider account for the second year, even though you still get it for free as part of your magazine subscription. I just got the magazine again after a couple of years hiatus and found this when searching for a way to disable the autorenewal before it kicks in a year from now and I’ve forgotten.

  5. I came across your site after google’ing cancel ESPN insider and just like yourself I’m appalled that ESPN would conduct themselves like lowly scam artists.

    FYI, a dark pattern for those who don’t know, is consciously via obfuscation or process barriers the act of swindling more money out of your customer and it’s unethical.

    http://darkpatterns.org/

  6. Adrien says:

    I got the price reduced to 50% off…..Didnt even have to argue. Call the nyumber and option 2.

  7. Rick says:

    The auto renewal that is difficult to cancel is just plain sleazy. Extremely disappoint that ESPN runs its web site like this. Heck, some porn sites make it easier to access and manage your account than these slimy operators. ESPN- you stink..

    • kurtsh says:

      Recently, I found one site that was worse than ESPN. It was a software product called “Office Timeline” that I bought that unbeknownst to me started offering a subscription. They took the credit card that I’d originally used to purchase their product – apparently they’d KEPT IT without my knowledge – and started me on some kind of annual subscription. I stopped the subscription after being billed apparently a couple years in a row and bitched about it on Twitter and they apologized saying “they notified me 3 times via email” before renewing that I was going to be billed, and I was like, “Do you think I gave you an email address for you to spam that I check frequently? And since when do you keep my CC# without my permission? And why is my CC# STILL on record, despite the fact that I’ve stopped subscribing to your product?” They said that it was a 3rd party that did the subscription transactions but they never explained why they still had my CC#. I insisted that they get rid of it from their records and thank goodnewss they complied but I’m like, DAMN, that’s messed up.

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