Companies must let customers cancel subscriptions online, California law says

No more searching for a sketchy 1-800 number.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Subscription services for news, food and beauty products have to make cancelations clear and straightforward, a new California law says. 

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A California law that went into effect July 1 is aimed at making it easier for customers to cancel their subscriptions online. 

The law states that customers who accept an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online must be able to cancel the service online. That could include a pre-written "termination email" provided by the company that can be sent by the consumer without the need for more information. 

The law means you won't have to make anymore phone calls to obscure customer service hotlines to cancel services like news subscriptions, music streaming or meal plans, for example. 

One person tweeted about trying to cancel a New York Times subscription on the phone and being put on hold for 15 minutes -- twice. 

The law has implications far beyond California, as it applies to all companies and publishers with paying customers in the state. 

The new law also states that companies have to present the terms of an automatic renewal or continuous service offer in a "clear and conspicuous manner." Businesses with service offers that include a free gift or trial have to clearly explain the price that'll be charged after the trial ends. They also have to disclose to customers how to cancel the service before they pay.