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Not-So-Free Free Trials
Weeks after a NetZero agent told me that he was canceling my account, a charge for $14.95 appeared on my credit card bill. So I called back, providing my name and my old NetZero account information. The customer service agent told me that I would need to supply a "transaction number" from my credit card account in order to obtain a refund.
Half an hour later, I called back with a transaction number. Another NetZero agent told me that the transaction number I had supplied was wrong, and said that his supervisor would call me back within half an hour. When no supervisor called, I called back. There was still no supervisor available. The next day, I received a voice-mail message requesting that I call again. I did, but there was still no supervisor on hand. I finally decided that it wasn't worth the effort, and I gave up on getting the refund.
NetZero said later in a written statement that the company "sincerely apologized" for the trouble I had encountered, but it did not indicate to me whether the company planned to change its practices.
I had a hard time canceling my $5 monthly Gold Classmates.com account, too. I couldn't find any information on how to cancel until I entered the word cancel In the site's search engine. Classmates.com spokesperson John Uppendahl confirmed that there is no other way to find cancellation information. But that was only the first hoop I had to jump through to cancel my membership.
Classmates.com also forced me to click through several Web pages reminding me of the benefits I'd lose. Finally my clicking ended at a generic Member Support e-mail contact page containing a blank 'Your Question' field. Though the form said nothing about cancellations, I used it to request that the service cancel my subscription. The next day I received an e-mail message confirming that the service had accepted my request.
When I asked Uppendahl why canceling my account took so many steps, he replied that this was the way that Classmates.com handled cancellations. He declined to answer further questions.