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Neo9

Refusal to Cancel a Recur Bill Account When Requested in Writing

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Is it legal for a company to refuse to cancel a monthly recur billing agreement when requested in writing via e-mail?  The particular company I'm dealing with responds to written requests to cancel a membership to tell me they can only cancel memberships by calling into the support line, during which time a support agent wastes your time by incessantly trying to overcome your cancellation request.

I imagine from the perspective of federal and/or state statutes governing these type of consumer transactions, written notification of cancellation is legally sufficient, regardless of whether a company includes language to the contrary in their TOS.  

Any insight the good members of the forum can offer is genuinely appreciated.

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What I would do is get a phone recorder and then call their customer service office and demand that your account be cancelled and that the call is being recorded. When they make any comments or questions that do not pertain the cancelling of the account, simply state "I demand that the account be cancelled." If you keep that up, eventually you will get confirmation that the account be cancelled. Once you get off the phone, send a letter CMRRR to the organization stating what occurred on the call and that you recorded it. If that does not work, then close the bank account that they are taking the withdrawal from and open a new one. If you have to go that far, then you will probably end up in court at some point but you should have the evidence that you attempted to cancel the account per the TOS but they refused to do it.

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16 hours ago, Neo9 said:

I imagine from the perspective of federal and/or state statutes governing these type of consumer transactions, written notification of cancellation is legally sufficient, regardless of whether a company includes language to the contrary in their TOS.

I wouldn't imagine that at all. You entered into an agreement to call them when you want to cancel their services. This procedure doesn't violate any public policy and isn't at all unreasonable. 

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Thanks for taking the time to reply, Harry.

I posted in the "Is There a Lawyer in the House" section of the forum because there are certain statutes (one in particular in California state) which require recur billing arrangements to include "clear and prominent" display of various things, including cancellation policies (can't be buried deep within TOS that generally accepted forms of legal communication, like written letters, won't constitute a valid cancellation).

Moreover, some statutes, including the one referenced above, typically allow consumers to to cancel through any accepted means of communication.... and TOS designed to deliberately stifle that right (state or federal) aren't legally binding because they contradict with said statutes.

There are a variety of Federal statutes specifically governing recur-billing consumer transactions, which I haven't been able to dive into yet, and so I thought someone with specific experience in these laws might be active in the forum.

Perhaps I should just try Avvo.  Thanks guys.

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The thing is, if you want to cause a legal fight, you either need to get a lawyer to do the fighting for you or you need to understand the laws to do the fighting yourself and that means doing the research to understand where you have legal rights and where you don't. Personally, I gave my advice on the grounds of "It is better to try to follow the rules and show that the other side was in breach first than to breach the contract and then claim the other side was in breach." In other words, show that you attempted to follow the TOS to cancel the subscription and if they still insist on stopping you, then you take unilateral action (and yes, you can take unilateral action such as closing your bank account or having the bank process a stop order, both which have its own costs). Remember that if this gets to court, you would have to provide proof that they made it impossible to cancel the subscription and recurring payment.

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On 12/31/2018 at 5:05 AM, WhoCares1000 said:

The thing is, if you want to cause a legal fight, you either need to get a lawyer to do the fighting for you or you need to understand the laws to do the fighting yourself and that means doing the research to understand where you have legal rights and where you don't. Personally, I gave my advice on the grounds of "It is better to try to follow the rules and show that the other side was in breach first than to breach the contract and then claim the other side was in breach." In other words, show that you attempted to follow the TOS to cancel the subscription and if they still insist on stopping you, then you take unilateral action (and yes, you can take unilateral action such as closing your bank account or having the bank process a stop order, both which have its own costs). Remember that if this gets to court, you would have to provide proof that they made it impossible to cancel the subscription and recurring payment.

I'm in full agreement with your stance and am of the opinion your advice was solid.  But due to certain circumstances with this particular issue, I had framed my question to seek any possible guidance on these particular statutes from an attorney as I've found CIC forums to be invaluable in that regard in times past.  Especially since state and federal regulations governing recur-billing situations are a bit more obscure than the typical FDCPA, FCRA, and TCPA claims the forum sees.  I thought it would be interesting to find out if there were any attorneys in this subsection of the forum with experience in that arena.  Not very much talked about on the internet, and usually only in super-egregious class action cases.

I've successfully represented myself Pro Se as both a Plaintiff and Defendant in civil court again some big players with respect to some of the various issues people typically encounter with consumer collections, once with the help of an old member here named "Downto0", who I wonder is still around these days. 

I guess, from my experience, if a clause in the TOS is at odds with federal or state law, it's not valid and therefore you have no legal obligation to show any attempt at following it.  The service provider, however, has a legal obligation to adhere to state and federal laws and not try to dissuade consumers away from their rights under said laws simply by crafting TOS that are at odds with them.  

As a matter of curiosity, sometimes I take a different approach and have found varying degrees of success.  This particular issue is of nominal monetary value the means of which potential Defendant won't be interested in defending.

Hopefully I can learn more about the recur billing statutes and will contribute my findings to the forum soon.

 

Thanks again for all your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

Neo9

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13 hours ago, Neo9 said:

I'm in full agreement with your stance and am of the opinion your advice was solid.  But due to certain circumstances with this particular issue, I had framed my question to seek any possible guidance on these particular statutes from an attorney as I've found CIC forums to be invaluable in that regard in times past.  Especially since state and federal regulations governing recur-billing situations are a bit more obscure than the typical FDCPA, FCRA, and TCPA claims the forum sees.  I thought it would be interesting to find out if there were any attorneys in this subsection of the forum with experience in that arena.  Not very much talked about on the internet, and usually only in super-egregious class action cases.

I've successfully represented myself Pro Se as both a Plaintiff and Defendant in civil court again some big players with respect to some of the various issues people typically encounter with consumer collections, once with the help of an old member here named "Downto0", who I wonder is still around these days. 

I guess, from my experience, if a clause in the TOS is at odds with federal or state law, it's not valid and therefore you have no legal obligation to show any attempt at following it.  The service provider, however, has a legal obligation to adhere to state and federal laws and not try to dissuade consumers away from their rights under said laws simply by crafting TOS that are at odds with them.  

As a matter of curiosity, sometimes I take a different approach and have found varying degrees of success.  This particular issue is of nominal monetary value the means of which potential Defendant won't be interested in defending.

Hopefully I can learn more about the recur billing statutes and will contribute my findings to the forum soon.

 

Thanks again for all your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

Neo9

Which specific federal and state laws are you referencing and would cite to the court?

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The only right you have under Federal Law is to stop the payments yourself through your bank, again at you expense and risk. If you do this, the creditor then can say you did not cancel the contract properly and add charges and the go after you for those charges through collectors, arbitration, or court. You might have other rights under California State law but you would have to research that (and it does look like California offers more protections).

Again, I would call the company one last time while recording the call (inform them that you are recording the call since California is a 2 party recording state) and demand that the service be stopped and the payments be stopped. When they try to get you to keep the service, simply repeat your demand calmly but firmly (in fact, you can repeat the same exact words, "I wish to stop the service and the automatic payment for the service.") Don't say anything else and either they cancel it or they don't. If they don't, then at that point you can do a bank stop on the recurring payment as is your right under federal law but realize you will end up in court so get the recording ready for the judge to hear.

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10 hours ago, BV80 said:

Which specific federal and state laws are you referencing and would cite to the court?

ROSCA ... most states, including CA, also have varying laws governing recur bill transactions.  I'll dig a little deeper and share what I find.

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7 minutes ago, Neo9 said:

ROSCA ... most states, including CA, also have varying laws governing recur bill transactions.  I'll dig a little deeper and share what I find.

Thank you.  I think it would help if we could read the laws to which you’re referring.  

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@BV80

I'll try to post statutes from the California law tomorrow when time permits.  There is one in particular which actually requires any specific cancellation terms or conditions to be clearly and prominently displayed during the point of sale, among other key tenets of the transaction.  So, without further research, on the surface I think there's an argument to be made that any such requirements can't just be buried inside 7 pages of legal jargon and fine print.

We'll see, I could be wrong. 

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