My household is a fan of NFL football franchise team, the Houston Texans. I lived in Houston for 8 years before moving here to Finland. Because I am living here in Finland, I am limited in my options to watch games. Broadcaster, Nelonen has a Pay-TV channel called ProSport that shows NFL games. However, they choose what game you can watch. One of the cable providers, Viasat, also shows NFL games (also of their choosing). Well, this obviously doesn’t work for my wife or I so, we chose to use the NFL’s Audiopass service.
We have been using the service for a few seasons. The first season or so, Audiopass was still operated by Yahoo! Now the NFL runs the show through Neulion.
After you login to Audiopass you are given the option to go listen to the games and it also provides several links to update your billing information or profile information. The reason why I am writing this posting is the subscription auto-renewal.
Back in September, my wife and I subscribed to an all-season subscription to Audiopass for $25. Great deal! A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through my credit card records and saw a charge from the NFL in August for $9.99. I assumed that this was for the month-to-month subscription service. The only problem is that we never renewed it. So, emailing support and informing them of this should take care of the problem, right? No.
Terms of service
In this day and age, many people – including the technically inclined like myself – are getting caught up in the EULA/TOS web which software makers, web services and more use to inform users as to how, where and why they can use the service or software. These provides also use as a legal excuse to recuse themselves of any responsibility for what a user might do wrong. “Hey sorry, it’s written in English in our Terms of Service.” This is what happened to me when I asked them to give me back my $9.99 they charged me for a service I didn’t ask for or use.
As sad as it was, they were correct and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. So, what happened anyways?
You don’t have a [clear-cut] choice, your subscription auto-renews
According to the support person who sent me a response to my email, during the purchase of the subscription, you are told several times that your subscription will auto-renew. I don’t remember this when we purchased the all-season subscription and I certainly don’t remember this when we purchased the month-to-month subscription. I didn’t argue with the person about this because they were probably right – maybe we didn’t take enough time to make sure we checked every character on the screen before we hit “purchase”.
So, you purchase your subscription and the subscription auto-renews the following season. Maybe you don’t want this to happen so, what do you do? Herein lies the problem. The instructions for cancelling auto-renewal are buried deep within Audiopass’ novel-length Terms of Service. What the hell?
Ease of use
After stewing for a little while, I wrote Audiopass expressing my displeasure for how poorly designed and programmed their profile UI is. Why are the instructions for cancelling auto-renewal buried in the ToS? Why does the user have to send an email to Audiopass in order to cancel auto-renewal? How about a button or a checkbox in the “Billing Information” section? Cancelling auto-renewal should be THAT simple. Why this simple feature was excluded from the profile UI is really beyond me.
As I said, my wife and I ordered the all-season subscription – while auto-renewal for the month-to-month subscription was turned on. How come the system is not programmed to inform the user that the subscription they are purchasing may conflict with another subscription – with instructions on what to do next? We should have received a pop up warning, error, anything that would have let us know about the service we were apparently already subscribed to but, nothing happened.
How about sending an automatic receipt to a users email account when you charge them $9.99 for the month-to-month subscription? I don’t know about anyone else but, I want a fargin’ receipt if the system is going to automatically charge me. Hell, I want a receipt or some damn message from them, informing me that they are going to auto-renew my subscription!!
When designing and programming UI for the everyday user, you have got to make sure that you account for almost every situation or, at the very least, the most common of situations. Don’t just throw some shit up on a screen and use a ToS as an excuse for lazy behavior. I doubt that I am the first or last person to cry and whine because they were ignorant to Audiopass’ auto-renewal feature.
It’s bad enough that I usually have to sit and listen to the Texans throw away another game (although, they are doing much better this season), I just don’t want to be inconvenienced by an unnecessary$9.99 lesson.