This post was inspired by today’s real-life experience with auto-renewing payments. My last post was about my son Matt’s big mistake with shady payment plans (90 days same as cash – NOT!). This one is about my son Blake’s blooper. You know – this guy!
Here he is showing off his new bleached blond ‘do for his first day of High School – these kids grow up so far! Anyway, Mr. Genius here let the virus protection expire on his laptop. And of course, it immediately picked up 3 viruses from all the terrific gaming sites he visits. I’m just living the sweet life here raising teenaged boys!
Why You Shouldn’t Allow Auto-Renewing Payments
Once I figured out what he’d done, I immediately went out to renew his virus protection. It routed me to a big box store which shall remain nameless, but sounds a lot like Test Guy. I wondered when it wouldn’t allow me to renew online, but instead routed me to their phone line. I called, sat on hold for 15 minutes, and finally got with one of their “renewal specialists”. They are a lot like loan sharks…
We got all the way to the end of the transaction when she happened to mention just in passing that it would switch to auto-renewing payments the following year and every year after that until I cancelled it. Um, excuse me?
I fought the good fight, but Test Guy was adamant that the ONLY way I could renew my virus protection was with the auto pay option. I could call back a few days later and cancel the auto-renewing payments, but who is going to remember to do that? And who knows if I’ll even have that same computer next year, or if I am going to want that same virus protection next year, or that I’ll even remember a year from now that that I did renew it?
It’s the same thing for magazines, warranties, or any other service or product they want you to put on auto-renewing payments. They make it sound fabulous, but it’s a great deal for them, but a lousy one for you! Just say NO!
I see a lot of services going to these auto-renewing payments schemes and I don’t blame them a bit. It’s practically guaranteed income for them that they have to pay zero dollars to go chase down. Netflix does it, your gym does it (see my post on gym memberships and what a ripoff they are), Pandora, Amazon, Spotify, tons of the services that we use every day. Sometimes they will offer you a discount to set these things up, but usually, if you push hard enough, you can get out of it.
So I told Test Guy to stuff it. Politely, but firmly, and then I went to the virus protection website and purchased it directly. I not only avoided the auto-renewing payments trap (they offered it, but THEY had an opt-out option), AND I saved 50%. Now that’s the Smart Money route!
Another little tricky option that I’ve found. Some of my website services are set up on these auto-renewing payments, BUT if I set them up to my Paypal account, I can go back later and just cancel them. Then when the next year’s renewal cycle comes around, the payment will fail and they will contact me. Then I have the choice to reactivate the payment (or not) AND usually, they’ll offer me a bit of a discount to renew. That sounds like a win-win to me!