At present, some merchants often have the following routines on the issue of automatic renewal: one is that automatic renewal has become the default option; the other is that the merchant restricts consumers’ choices; the other is that it uses a free trial or 1 point Under the guise of 30 days of money experience, consumers are induced to join continuous monthly subscription agreements.
Relevant scholars pointed out that the problem of automatic monthly renewal is widespread, indicating that the regulatory authorities have not done a good job in pre- and post-supervision. Prior supervision should remind merchants to inform consumers in a clear and eye-catching form, and consumers are free to choose; afterwards supervision is to promptly supervise and even punish merchants after consumers' rights are violated.
"It hurts! I finally know why my money disappeared one by one, because of the various software that automatically renews the monthly subscription." Ms. Wang from Huzhou, Zhejiang Province saw a pile of bank card deduction records and remembered herself. I forgot to cancel the various automatic renewal packages opened before.
Nowadays, businesses often offer a variety of monthly and annual membership service packages, but many consumers may fall into the consumption trap of being "automatically renewed" without paying attention. In 2019, CCTV conducted a survey of 50 popular paid software, and found that more than 70% have automatic renewal functions, and many are suspected of fooling users into automatic renewal.
In May of this year, Mr. Chen from Nanning opened a 15-yuan VIP film and television membership on TV. When it was activated, he did not notice that this package had an automatic renewal prompt. Until the second month to pay the phone bill, Mr. Chen found out that some money had been deducted for some reason. He contacted the customer service of the mobile phone operator, and found out that this video package is still charging. What made Mr. Chen dumbfounded was that when the renewal was cancelled, the order information showed that the continuous monthly subscription was valid until December 31, 2099. "Fortunately, I found out early, otherwise I won't be alive after 79 years, and I have to pay the money."
"When Mr. Chen opened a 15 yuan monthly subscription, he did not show that the automatic renewal expires in 2099. Therefore, this contract period is not binding on Mr. Chen." Lawyer Wu Lichuan of Beijing Jingshi Law Firm said that for general contracts In other words, although the law does not specify the upper limit of the contract performance period, the feasibility of contract performance should also be considered. If the contract can no longer be performed in the future or it is obviously unfair to continue to perform the contract, the parties can request to change or terminate the contract.
Mr. Chen told reporters that when he opened a membership on the App, he chose the default option of the system. It was not until he was deducted that he learned that he had ordered an automatic renewal package, which made him feel that his right to know as a consumer was affected. Violated. "I think a monthly subscription means one month. If you want to continue using it next month, you can order again. Consumers should have the initiative. Now it is the other way around. I ordered a service, which is equivalent to signing an indefinite contract. The power is in the merchant's place." Mr. Chen said.
The reporter's investigation found that some businesses often have the following routines in the issue of automatic renewal: one is that automatic renewal has become the default option. For example, for VIP users who purchase a certain video software, the system will automatically check the continuous monthly subscription and prompt automatically The font for renewal is very small. The other is that merchants restrict consumers' choices. For example, when opening a video App membership, the interface has only two packages, namely "continuous monthly VIP" and "half-year VIP". There are no other separate monthly and annual options, which means If you don’t want to open the "semi-annual VIP" with more charges, you can only choose the "continuous monthly VIP" with automatic renewal. Another is to induce consumers to join a continuous monthly subscription agreement under the guise of a free trial or a 30-day experience for 1 cent. As long as the user downloads the App, or agrees to open the service, it is equivalent to agreeing to the terms of the agreement. After the free trial period ends, you will be charged unknowingly.
What makes some consumers more confused and annoyed is that it is easy to activate automatic renewal, but when you want to cancel, the procedure is much more complicated.
When Mr. Lao, a 66-year-old citizen of Nanning, bought an electric car in 2017, he signed a one-year GPS service with his bound mobile phone number. "The contract says a one-year period, and I paid 180 yuan." Mr. Lao said, there was no mention in the contract that the fee would be automatically renewed, and the staff also promised that "If you don't serve you, it will be automatically broken."
After that, Mr. Lo was hospitalized due to illness, so he did not pay attention to the follow-up charges for this service. It was not until the beginning of this year that he unintentionally discovered from the numerous unread text messages on his mobile phone that the GPS service was still deducting money, so he took his ID card to the communication business hall and asked to cancel the GPS short message notification service and automatic renewal service. The staff verbally promised that it could be cancelled and would help deal with it.
Unexpectedly, 4 months have passed. In July of this year, Mr. Lao received the deduction text message again. He came to the communication business hall again to communicate, "From the salesman to the director, I have looked for 3 people and they all said that they could not handle it. I don’t know. I have to talk to the person who sells the electric car and sign the GPS contract. They are the communication service provider and they only deduct the money, regardless of stopping the charge."
Mr. Lao went to the merchant who bought the electric car back then. Who knew that the shop had been closed, and the merchant's phone could not be reached. In desperation, Mr. Law had to ask the media for help. After local media exposure and communication with reporters, the communications operator finally cancelled Mr. Lao’s GPS service fee.
According to Lawyer Wu Lichuan, this sales model of the merchant is suspected of infringing on the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. The Consumer Protection Law gives consumers the right to know and the right to choose. Before providing secret-free payment and automatic renewal services, merchants need to truthfully inform consumers of the content, method, and cost of the service, and obtain consumer consent. If the merchant checks this function for consumers by default, it will undoubtedly deprive consumers of their right to know and choose, which is illegal. The e-commerce law also explicitly prohibits “default tying” and severely penalizes it.
"Secondly, the merchant has the obligation to prompt and explain the terms of the standard contract." Wu Li said that Article 26 of the Consumer Rights Protection Law stipulates that if a business operator uses standard terms in business activities, it should be noted to consumers Pay attention to the quantity and quality of goods or services, price or expense, performance period and method, safety precautions and risk warnings, after-sales service, civil liability, etc. that have major interests with consumers, and explain them in accordance with the requirements of consumers. "The terms of service of online platforms are usually standard contracts. Merchants are obliged to remind consumers of the key content and explain them, otherwise these terms will be invalid for consumers." Wu Li said.
As the marketing routines of automatic monthly subscription renewal become more common, consumer complaints are increasing, and some organizations are beginning to pay attention to this problem. On April 8 this year, the Zhejiang Provincial Consumer Rights Protection Committee conducted interviews with video and audio websites with problems based on the results of the previous consumer experience of 11 video and audio platforms including iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku, Himalaya, etc. And put forward nine aspects of rectification opinions, including the automatic renewal deduction is not reminded and the default automatic renewal check, easy to open and difficult to cancel and other issues.
As of April 17 this year, 11 video and audio websites including iQiyi and Tencent Video have successively sent rectification response letters to the Zhejiang Provincial Consumer Protection Commission. Regarding the automatic renewal deduction without reminder, 11 audio-visual websites stated that consumers who purchase continuous monthly, seasonal, and annual subscriptions will receive a reminder from the website through in-site messages, mobile phone text messages, WeChat, etc., before deduction. .
The reporter recently opened the App of these audio websites and found that most of them have cancelled the default automatic renewal function. The Youku VIP Membership Agreement provides a detailed description of the continuous package/automatic renewal service, and its message center also has member expiration reminders and automatic renewal deduction reminders. On the other hand, Dragonfly FM informs via the station message 3 days in advance, and sends out multi-channel and multi-frequency deduction information via mobile phone text messages 1 to 2 days in advance.
However, some relatively small network service providers still have many irregularities. This month, Mr. Zhang from Shandong was "renewed" for 258 yuan on a certain mobile phone scanner without his knowledge.
According to Liu Xunzhi, an associate professor at the Law School of Guangxi Normal University, the current issue of automatic monthly renewal is widespread, indicating that the regulatory authorities have not done a good job in pre- and post-supervision. Prior supervision should remind merchants to inform consumers in a clear and eye-catching form, and consumers are free to choose; afterwards supervision is to promptly supervise and even punish merchants after consumers' rights are violated.
Liu Xunzhi believes that the interviews conducted by the Zhejiang Provincial Consumer Protection Committee are not the supervision and management of administrative agencies, and there is no too strong binding force. “It should be supervised by the market supervision and management department and the industry and information department to establish a joint disciplinary mechanism, such as a blacklist system. Merchants that violate the law and infringe on the rights and interests of consumers shall carry out necessary credit punishments. With strong supervision, such illegal phenomena that infringe on the rights and interests of consumers will be gradually eliminated."
China Youth Daily·China Youth Daily reporter Xie Yang, intern Xie Lurong Source: China Youth Daily