Standardize automatic renewal services

Standardize automatic renewal services

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The State Council recently announced the “Regulations on the Implementation of the Consumer Rights Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China” (hereinafter referred to as the “Regulations”), which will come into effect on July 1, 2024. The “Regulations” stipulate that if operators provide services through automatic extension, automatic renewal, etc., they shall draw consumers’ attention in a conspicuous manner before consumers accept the service and before the date of automatic extension, automatic renewal, etc.

“Automatic renewal” is a common topic. In recent years, many online platforms have made profits and only provide content and services to members. A large number of consumers have to sign up for membership, and automatic renewal has become a “trap” that consumers frequently encounter. It only takes one click to activate and renew the subscription. However, when consumers want to cancel their subscription, they find that the process is complicated and there is no “cancel” function at all. Such automatic renewal routines violate the principles of good faith and fairness, infringe on consumers’ right to know and choose, and are not conducive to the sustainable and healthy development of the platform and the digital economy.

The automatic renewal service saves users the trouble of monthly renewal and enjoys activation discounts, thus helping the platform accumulate more long-term members. There is nothing wrong with this business model, but it must be based on consumers’ clear knowledge and consent. If the default is automatic extension and automatic deduction, it is suspected of forced consumption. Regarding the activation and deactivation of automatic renewal, the attitude of laws and regulations has always been very clear.

The Consumer Rights Protection Law clearly stipulates that consumers have the right to independently choose goods or services. The “Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Online Transactions” clearly states that if online transaction operators provide services through automatic extension, automatic renewal, etc., they shall notify consumers in a conspicuous manner before accepting the service and 5 days before the date of automatic extension, automatic renewal, etc. Attention. Departments and organizations such as the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the China Consumers Association have also notified APPs that have difficulty in canceling automatic renewals and requested rectifications. However, unreasonable automatic renewal is like an “invincible little strong”, and it is getting worse.

The reason is that some online platforms “use their brains” in automatic renewal. On the one hand, it is because of the word “profit” in order to maximize business interests. Although the single amount of “renewed” is not large, considering the universality and recurrence of the problem, the cumulative loss of consumers is not a small amount; on the other hand, the cost of violation is not high, but users spend a lot of money to defend their rights. energy. To this end, it is necessary for regulatory authorities to take the initiative, impose strict penalties, and continue to increase the cost of violating the law to form an effective deterrent. The promulgation of the “Regulations” also draws a red line for automatic renewal from a legal perspective, which will further build a “protective wall” for consumer rights.

No rules, no standards. Currently, various technologies have become increasingly mature, and it is necessary to establish and improve industry standards for unsubscription services. For example, the payment platform can be required to include an unsubscription link in a prominent reminder text message to consumers 5 days before the default withholding, so that consumers can complete the process. Unsubscribe easily with just one click. As for online platforms, large and small, they should also have a basic awareness of respecting the rights and interests of users. Relying on some tricks to deceive users into recharging and spending can certainly earn some short-term benefits, but they are destined not to last long. Only by continuously improving service quality and making the charging standards and charging methods of various services clear and transparent can we truly enhance user stickiness and achieve long-term development.

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