November 17th, 2006

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How not to run an e-business

When the Twins were making their incredible push to the baseball playoffs in September, I signed up for ESPN's "Insider" service. My plan in doing so was to be able to get real-time updates on baseball games I couldn't see because I was at work or they weren't televised (or both). ESPN offered a free trial for 30 or 60 days for baseball fans like me. Well, I was disappointed that my "Insider" access to scores from the games was actually worse than the publicly available information on their services. So I figured I'd keep the service until the end of the playoffs/World Series and then cancel it.

I scoured their web site and finally found a contact form. I sent in my request to cancel my subscription and left it at that. Well, looking at my bank account this month, I see I was charged $7 for their service. Curses. So I go back to the gmail account I used for this subscription (not wanting to get their sports-related spam, particularly non-baseball spam) and searched for a message from them. Yep, there was the email back from my form submission saying that in order to cancel my subscription, I needed to call their toll-free number.

Here's a tip for everyone running a business on the Internets: If I can sign up for something that lacks a material component (like a mailing list or a site membership), I want to be able to be able to deal with all aspects of that thing in the same place I signed up for it. So if I subscribed to your site using my browser, I expect to be able to unsubscribe with my browser. It's nice your call-center rep was able to pull up my account information and cancel for me, but I did not want to get her sales tactics (which were polite and all, but still unwelcome) to entice me to keep what I called to cancel.
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