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FTC Wants to Make It Easier for You to Cancel Subscriptions

The "click to cancel" requirement would make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up.

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Andrew Blok Editor I
Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a focus on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
Expertise Solar providers and portable solar power; coffee makers, grinders and products Credentials
  • Master's degree in environmental journalism
Andrew Blok
Coins above a smart phone in a person's hand.

Under a proposed rule, it would be easier to avoid accidental automatic renewals.

Wong Yu Liang/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission wants to make it simple for people to cancel free trials, subscriptions and other recurring payments. On Thursday, the FTC proposed a so-called click to cancel provision and other rules that aim to rescue "consumers from seemingly never-ending struggles to cancel unwanted subscription payment plans."

In a release, FTC Chair Lina Khan said the proposed rule "would require that companies make it as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to sign up for one."

Under the rule, companies would be required to let customers cancel a subscription in no more steps than it takes to sign up. They would also be required to get permission before showing additional offers when customers try to cancel a subscription and send annual reminders before automatic renewals occur.

The proposed changes would have wide-ranging applications, from newspapers to gym memberships, but also "to all subscription features in all media," according to an FTC factsheet on the rule (PDF). Subscriptions purchased over the phone, on the internet, in print or in person would be regulated. Companies would have to allow for cancellation by the same method in the same number of steps or fewer.

The FTC will be accepting public comments soon, when a 60-day comment window opens.