How Much Hassle?
I subscribed to the services beginning last July, and I canceled--or tried to cancel--them all between August and October. Afterward, I considered several factors in assessing how hard it was to cancel each service and to receive any promised trial-period refunds. For example, I downgraded companies that failed to provide a way to unsubscribe through their Web sites. I also dinged merchants when they continued to bill me after I had canceled, and if they made me feel like a Net gumshoe searching their Web site for clues on how to unsubscribe. And I penalized sites whose customer service personnel pressured me repeatedly to continue my subscriptions or even buy other services. Finally, I took into account how long the various companies kept me on hold, and whether they continued to send me e-mail after I had canceled.
Of course, hassle is to a certain extent in the eyes of the beholder. A 10-minute call with one company might be fine if the representative is polite and helpful. The same amount of time with another company might be highly annoying.
Companies labeled "No Hassle" made severing ties relatively easy. For instance, some of them let me cancel by filling out an online form or sending an e-mail, and then they left me alone. Companies labeled as "Some Hassle" received unsatisfactory marks on one or more criteria. Companies that earned the "Big Hassle" rating failed on several measures; they made it so hard for me to cancel that I regretted having signed up with them in the first place. For a detailed list of the criteria I used in rating the various services, see "Thirteen Strikes"; and for more about the particulars of my experiences with each service I tried, see "Service Cancellation Woes."