eHarmony makes turning off Auto Renewal very difficult for the consumer

I have recently been stung by eHarmony’s terms & conditions regarding their auto-renewal of my annual subscription. I’m interested to hear opinions from the Choice Community on their process.
There are only 2 methods to cancel an auto-renewal with eHarmony, if you subscribe via Apple, you can cancel your auto-renewal via iTunes. However, if you have subscribed via their website (as I had), the only way to cancel is to email their customer support via the website. In doing so, you have no record of a sent email in your email account, and no proof that you have submitted the request. Placing all your trust that they will respond and cancel the auto-renewal.

This was the case with me, and, very foolishly, I did not follow this up - I simply sent the email and didn’t log back into eHarmony at all… my very costly mistake!

Fast forward 9 months later, I got a $479 debit from my bank account from eHarmony!

I contacted eHarmony, who denied that I had previously requested the cancellation of my subscription.

I’m very interested to hear from others in the Choice Community about this practice and if the Australian Consumer regulations allow for this extremely difficult process in which to stop auto-renewals.

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There is a third which is possibly better than relying on email. The way to do it through eHarmony is:

How to cancel eHarmony subscription manually

Cancel eHarmony online

  1. Log into your eHarmony account.
  2. Click on your profile picture in the top bar.
  3. Select “Account Settings”
  4. Click on “Billing”.
  5. Scroll down until you reach the “Subscription Status” section.
  6. Click on “Cancel My Subscription”.
  7. Follow the instructions.

Personally I never use auto-renewals. If I use something that has this as an option, I avoid this option. If there is no other option, I go elsewhere.

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Thanks for your note @phb
this option was not given when I searched as to how to unsubscribe - see below an excerpt from their website

I agree with your comments re: personal choices for auto-renewals, and I always unsubscribe immediately when I sign up to anything, however, in this case, I was not given the option to do so other than to email them. I 100% admit, it is my own fault that I didn’t follow this up, that is not in question … I am however raising this issue as I believe there should be some consumer guidelines around making an auto-renewal change possible for the consumer to manage themselves… Just like unsubscribing from email marketing under the SPAM laws.

I am interested to know if there are any such regulations in Australia.

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There are no such laws in Australia which regulate autorenewals. They come under the terms and conditions associated with the service subject of the autorenewal. There are unfair terms and conditions:

but one must be able to prove the autorenewal conditions in the contract were unfair (see example 2). If for example they said that you could not cancel a subscription (say like timeshare accommodation), then this could be seen as unfair and may come unstuck by the ACCC.

It is unlikely that this is the case, and it may be more about a purchaser being clear on what the autorenewal requirements for the particular service are.

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Section of the eHarmony T&Cs state (note their capitals text):

  1. RENEWALS

IN ORDER TO PROVIDE CONTINUOUS SERVICE, EHARMONY AUTOMATICALLY RENEWS ALL PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR THE SERVICES ON THE DATE SUCH SUBSCRIPTIONS EXPIRE UNLESS YOU CANCEL AT LEAST 24 HOURS BEFORE THE END OF YOUR CURRENT TERM. WE ALWAYS COMMUNICATE RENEWAL PERIODS TO YOU, BEFORE YOU FINALIZE THE PURCHASE OF YOUR SUBSCRIPTION, UPON CONFIRMATION OF PURCHASE, AND IF APPLICABLE IN YOUR JURISDICTION, IN AN EMAIL REMINDER AT LEAST 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THE EFFECTIVE RENEWAL DATE. BY ENTERING INTO THIS AGREEMENT, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE ABOVE-DESCRIBED AUTOMATIC RENEWALS. IN CONNECTION WITH ANY RENEWAL, YOU AGREE AND AUTHORIZE US TO CHARGE YOU APPLICABLE CHARGES, INCLUDING APPLICABLE INSTALLMENT FEES, SALES OR OTHER RELATED TAXES TO WHICH YOUR SUBSCRIPTION MAY BE SUBJECT AND WHICH MAY VARY FROM TIME TO TIME. IN ALL CASES, IF YOU DO NOT WISH YOUR ACCOUNT TO RENEW AUTOMATICALLY, PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS SET OUT UNDER “CANCELLATIONS AND ACCOUNT HOLDS” SECTION ABOVE.

If they haven’t fulfilled their obligations for notification under these T&Cs, this might be grounds for requesting a refund. If you for example ignored the notifications or didn’t update your personal contact details with them so you could receive the notifications, this is possibly wouldn’t be sufficient basis to seek a refund and any request is likely to be knocked back.

While I am not a lawyer, these T&Cs seem to be written to try and comply with the ACCC contract terms (see link in previous post), especially example 2. The reason for this is if they have provided notification and also provide easy methods to request renewal to be cancelled (which they sort of do). Then if a consumer ignores these notifications or doesn’t cancel, it could be seen that the renewal has been reasonable and fair.

If you paid by credit card, you could seek a chargeback. A chargeback is unlikely to be successful as eHarmony will point to the T&Cs stating they have met their obligations and it is the customer who ‘changed their mind’ after the renewal took place. ‘Change of Minds’ are a standard exclusion for credit card chargebacks.

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Depending on how you manage your email account you should have a copy in your sent folder;that is if you pressed send and your SMTP server received and processed it without returning an error.

There are two other normal confirmation practices:

1 - Many email clients have a ‘request return receipt’ and/or ‘delivery confirmation’ option where for the former the receiver will acknowledge it was read. The latter only signifies the email was received by their email system, not that anyone read it.

The options in Thunderbird are under ‘Options’ when an email is being composed.

Unfortunately all email systems do not honour the requests, and even if the email system does the specific receiver may not.

2 - Most companies auto-acknowledge receipt of emails and provide a reference number.

If one gets neither a read receipt or auto-acknowledgement it is a clue to follow up.

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I think @JulieL was referring to the “send a message” type facility that many sites provide, not email as such.

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Their reviews on Product Review and Trust Pilot say it all.

https://au.trustpilot.com/review/www.eharmony.com.au

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Yes, that is correct … the email goes through their server directly from their site, so there’s nothing in my sent items

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Thanks @PhilT the email advice is only possible via their own server, from their site. So, not available for viewing from my email client

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I interpreted it likewise. Thanks for confirming @JulieL.

Using online forms to send messages, I find most still send an acknowledgement to the email/account message service confirming it has been sent/or received. Not receiving such may indicate it hasn’t gone through.

Some businesses also when changing account settings will send an email with a clicking link to confirm/authentic the proposed change

It would be interesting if eHarmony follows these standard/best practices.

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Thanks @phb
clearly I should have spent more time investigating this at the time, but I have definitely paid the lazy tax now in not following it up properly … and definitely didn’t get a reminder from them.
I will be more careful in future, but I hope that this post at least highlights these issues for others

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I find it interesting in the terms and conditions that they will send a reminder 30 days before renewal “if applicable in your jurisdiction”.
If it was not law in Australia to do so, then they could skip that part.

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If no Love was found this time maybe the next 12 months just might be rewarding in that area and so not so painful in the end like the saying " When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". I’m not saying this is a great outcome but it may lessen the sting that has happened now, of course if success has already occurred then the extra cost is just wasted but might be a reminder of what to look out for when subscribing to any service.

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Apologies for missing that. It is always important to watch for the ‘success’ when sending such a message, only sometimes accompanied with a ticket number or email confirmation. Unfortunately many companies systems are far from best practice; some do not care and others are oblivious how fragile their ‘communications system’ is (from lack of curiosity to be kind).

While the chances they would care or offer to check approach zero or less, their system logs (that they might or might not keep for extended periods) would normally include all web-based transactions including web form submissions. You might put that general topic as a ‘reserved’ question if they continue to decline to help you.

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I have recently joined and subscribed for a 12 month subscription…within 12 HOURS of joining I emailed them when I knew I couldn’t stop the renewal to say after the first month I want to cancel. They reply by saying in Australia not the UK or USA , you CANNOT stop your automatic withdrawal until the time you signed up for is fully paid. They can stop the renewal after the 12 months and they said they did but now I am up for 12 months subscription of a closed account of $37/ month. I was on there for not even a week between email and then they canceled me as I requested but refuse to stop the withdrawals CAUSE IT WAS IN THE AGREEMENT they said I signed…THEY ARE SCAMMERS

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